Years ago, Gary Ware felt ashamed at his growing sense of unfulfillment in his career. He had everything he wanted in his career with key responsibilities and important influence as a director at a successful startup. He kept wondering: am I broken?
Gary’s world changed when a friend invited him to an improv class. He realized he could help others discover the awakening he experienced.
Today, Gary Ware is the founder of Breakthrough Play, where he helps professionals level-up their confidence, creativity, and happiness using play.
In this episode, we chat about:
- Why not everybody should take an improv class but everybody should play regularly
- Identifying which of the 7 types of play personalities you are
- What his first improv class taught him about himself
- How we can play more in our adult lives like we used to as children
- The ways we’ve been conditioned to associate play as acceptable to partake in only after work is done
- How we can avoid play shaming
- Why you might benefit from having some Legos and a timer at your desk
- The importance of designing an environment that invites play
Transcript with Gary Ware
Hi, I’m Tim. I’m a father, son, brother, friend in storyteller. Welcome to We’re Only Human. This is a podcast of interviews with people from all walks of life, to learn how they broke free from their scripted lives, to start writing their own script. We are digging into their rollercoaster journeys, to learn the skills and techniques they use to live life intentionally. We’re not perfect, we’re not alone, we’re only human.
Today I’m joined by Gary Ware who is a son, father, husband, he’s an improv comedian and founder of Breakthrough Play, which is a company that helps professionals level up with creativity, happiness, and confidence all by using play, which I was when I saw this I think you had posted something on LinkedIn about how you were known as like the play guy and I started looking into it your you do and I’m like, this is amazing. And yeah, in totally randomly, then I’m, then I’m looking you up on Facebook and you know, Sydney Williams, who
Gary Ware 1:51
How do you know Sydney?
Well, that was my question. I was like, How does he know Sydney? So okay, so I actually Sydney was actually the third guest. I had on the podcast. I’ve known Sydney for over a decade now we connected on Twitter way back when Twitter just got started. She was in Chicago, we kind of ran in the same circles. Okay. Yeah. And so I messaged her the other day and I’m like, you know, I’m interviewing Gary where soon and I’m doing some research and you say your Facebook friends. Do you know, Gary? And she’s like, Oh, yeah, he was my improv instructor.
Gary Ware 2:25
Yep, that’s me. That’s how I do it.
What a small world. So are you still an improv instructor? I mean, you still do the improv.
Gary Ware 2:36
So, I do improv. The theater is closed, that I perform it. I don’t own a theater. I do improv in a theater called fun of city improv in San Diego and because I started my journey, taking an improv class and for me, you know, I teach people about the different play personalities and so for me My play personality, you know, is all about, you know, theater and storytelling and being silly. So I naturally gravitated to that. And I took every improv class I could and wanted to perform. And I performed.
Then this theater opened up, and then I performed there and became a teacher there. And that’s where Sydney and I met. So What a small world. Yeah, but with all the stuff that’s going on with quarantine and stay at home, we’re not like the theater is this closed? Show? There’s no classes currently. So I am not teaching in person, but I do some virtual stuff. It’s not the same, but I am still, you know, still teaching.
Yeah. You mentioned what play personality you were. You mentioned the play personalities. What is a play personality? I’m not familiar.
Gary Ware 3:52
Yeah. So there is a gentleman’s name is Dr. Stuart Brown. He wrote this book called play and how it shapes our world and shapes our mind. And that So, taking a step back, when I took an improv class, I thought improv was the answer. Everyone needed to do improv. And then I started I was the improv pusher. I was like, you know, take an improv class, you need to do X, Y, and Z. And then some people were scared about it. And then I was like, well, maybe it’s not just improv, what about improv? Did I like and it was the fact that we were connecting it was the fact that we were playing. And then so then I did that. I was like, All right, cool. All right, play. Maybe that’s the answer.
Then I started studying anything and everything that I could on Play the power of play. And that book is like, the book like Dr. Stuart brown wrote the book on play, and how he came about that was an accident as well. He’s, you know, a researcher and he was studying serial killers. And he found a correlation between all of these mass murderers, serial killers, and how they did not have play growing up. Very, very, like shocking. And then he started exploring that play is something that shapes all of us. And so he wrote this book and this book, he’s, he talks about people need to take a play history.
He asked people to think about how were you playing? When you were younger? You know, under 13, you know, what were you doing? What were the activities, and they probably fit in one of these seven, play personalities. And so it’s the Joker, you know, that’s the practical joker, the person that likes to play pranks, the competitive person so that is what a lot of people think of when they think about play.
This person is very competitive with themselves and with others. They probably like to play competitive sports, you know, they compete with themselves in you know, in any They get everything that they do. Sure, we can all think of those types of people. And it’s interesting right there.
That’s why a lot of people don’t really think that they can play or, or whatnot, because they don’t align with that. So he goes a little bit deeper. Then there’s the kinesthetic, the kinesthetic person loves movement. They may do like, you know, athletic play, but for them, it’s all about the movement, not about the competing. Then we have the collector. So when who’s play personalities to collector, they’d like to collect experiences, maybe they like to collect baseball cards, or they like to travel and collect stamps in their passport.
You know, for them, collecting is plain. And, you know, then there’s the Explorer, the Explorer is slightly different, but they like to, like explore their physical world, their mental world, they’re just exploring. You know, then we like then we have the director. The director is the person that likes to orchestrate things put things together.
Oh, that’s my son. As you’re describing these, I’m trying to figure out where my son or daughter fits in.
Gary Ware 7:07
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Then we have the the storyteller. You know, for them, they likes to get lost in stories, whether it’s books or you know, improv or anything like that. Then we have storyteller was the other one’s the connector someone for play for them, it’s connecting people, you know, they liked, you know, they don’t necessarily want to be center of attention, but they love connecting people. So those, if you think about it, you know, there might be one or a few that sort of resonates with you.
And that is like, I like to say your compass of joy. You know, that can help you like get more joy. And so Dr. Brown says, if you can bring something that you were doing when you were younger, back in just a small subset, like just a little bit, it’s going to bring you an immense amount of joy. Because there’s a lot of studies that show that right before puberty, whatever you were doing your brain is is saying, alright, I should hold on to this, because this is important.
And then when puberty happened in the throat shedding the brain cells of things that you didn’t need need anymore. It held on to that, and it’s still there. And if you bring it back, there’s a part of you, that’s gonna be like, oh, wow, this is great. And so for me it was improv because I was, I wasn’t doing theater, but I was into music.
I played a musical instrument since I was in fifth grade. That’s when I picked up the clarinet. I played it through high school. I was in a few bands post High School, but you know, just, you know, because of time and stuff like that just sort of fell out. So that whole creation, and performing and stuff like that, like was just still part of me.
When I got into improv, it was just like, this is I’m home. So, so for me, I’m more than just the thing that I learned in improv was beneficial. But the act of me actually performing and doing that on stage was like it was became a passion of mine. So that’s a long winded way of telling you about my my journey and of starting to discover play and what the play personalities are.
That’s amazing. I love those play personalities. I got to check out that book. It’s funny, you mentioned like that you fell in like you felt your home at home and improv. When I when I was thinking about all this and instead of looking at your story and just looking at improv and your work with play, I thought, I love improv. So I love like going I’m here in Chicago, so great improv city, great theater city. Second City improv Olympic. Yeah, tons of amazing work to go watch all the time. I love watching it all.
But I remember in high school, I think it was like freshman year, we had an improv club, and I did it for a semester maybe two. That was it. I haven’t done anything since. And I remember I still remember this day. I loved it, loved it, loved it, loved it. And I wrote here my notes I wrote, I want to take an improv class class after COVID. I feel like you have inspired me, just learning about you. I as soon as we get out of all this, and we’re back up and running, I’m gonna do it. And I’m curious. I feel like I’m gonna be at home. But I don’t know what made you feel so at home when you took that improv class?
Gary Ware 10:27
Yeah. And so I feel like everyone should take an improv class because you’re going to learn some amazing skills. Some people, you may want to take it a little bit further and explore the actual performing on stage. But the thing that made me feel so at home is and I talked about this in my TEDx talk about like how play saved my life, because when I took the my first class, I was a director for this large digital marketing agency and I felt like I was burnt out all the time. I felt like I was in over my head. I was one of the youngest directors. And I had a large staff of people that reported to me and I was working all the time.
Because at that time, my, my sort of worth was tied into my output. And so I felt like, Oh, I need to just keep, you know, keep working. Yeah, yeah. And I want it to get better public speaking because I found myself having to speak in front of clients and present data and all this other stuff. And I hate it Toastmasters. So just like I got a lot of anxiety going to Toastmasters.
And I feel like it was because of the judging like, Oh, am I doing this? Right? They’re counting my arms, they’re doing all these things. And I just, it just didn’t work for me and mentor said, you should take an improv class and I was like, What improv class I again, it didn’t even cross my mind is something I didn’t do improv in high school. Never done improv.
But I did it. I took the improv class, and I went into that theater and they were 15 others People just like me. And for two hours we played, we get these. So, when you take an improv class as you know, you probably know from doing improv club, you play these games that are going to help you be able to so much and, and tell stories like in front of an audience, but it’s silly. You know, we have these improv principles and I’m happy to talk about some of them, but like it created this psychological safety where I felt safe, being silly, I felt safe, making mistakes, I felt safe just being my true authentic self.
And a few things happen there that I didn’t realize until like five years later, when I started studying this is that I gave my brain a break, you know, our brains a muscle. And just like any muscle, you need to rest it and I wasn’t resting it. I felt like I was always on or needed to be always on until that little rest was like what my brain needed. In the book, Dr. Stuart Brown, he talks about How a lot of us are probably suffering from play deprivation.
I think we are. I would agree with that.
Gary Ware 13:06
And so I was essentially playing, I was connecting with other people. I, I was experiencing what I called the dose. And dose is an acronym dlse, which is dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and endorphins, you know, and so those are the things that make us feel like we belong, that we can trust other people, that we’re doing the right thing. You know, we’re being productive. And it was just amazing. It was an amazing experience.
Then I was excited to go back the next week. And I had something to look forward to. And it was I took that first class and it was like, life changing. I tell people just take a level one improv class. And now as a teacher, I love teaching the early levels of improv because I love seeing people’s faces like when they like have that amount of like immense amount of joy. And it’s interesting, we’re making mistakes. They suck. Get this like, but they don’t care. They’re open to mistakes.
And it pushes them to want to work harder because you have these people that are celebrating your mistakes. Where else are you going to get people that are going to come up to you, you made a mistake. You like butcher something? They’re like, Oh my gosh, that was amazing. Keep going. Do it again. And I the people that I met in my first levels of doing improv I’m still very good friends with
You’re so right that like that environment like what more accommodating friendly, just warm environment is there then probably improv where I mean, because the whole concept for my understanding of improv I mean, at its core is yes. And like we were going to keep going, we’re going to build so even if you fail, we’re going to build on that and we’re going to create something out of that and we’re going to keep going and like yeah, where else do you I mean, that’s such a I just that’s so cool to me too.
I love that like iteration to me is, because like, you use as long as you’re, it’s okay if you fail. But as long as you’re tweaking something and trying something new and continue to improve, and like, that’s, to me what improv is, I love that.
Gary Ware 15:13
That’s pretty much it. Yeah, you’re absolutely right, that that whole concept of Yes. And, and there, you know, a few others, like, make your partner look amazing.
Which is such a great concept to think about, like, how many other pieces or how many other places in our life? Are we thinking, I want to build that person up? I want to build up. I mean, I hope we are but I mean, you know, I mean, think about the other environments we’re in, especially as adults. That’s awesome.
Gary Ware 15:38
Yeah. And so, like, after I started learning some of these principles and playing these games, I immediately Well, I started seeing my own progression, you know, weekly, you know, I started listening better. I started, you know, being able to come up with ideas, you know, quickly, you know, on the spot, nothing changed. Though it was the same environment,
Did you see see all this outside of class? Like, did you notice yourself becoming a more active listener out? I mean, just in other parts of life.
Gary Ware 16:09
Yes. And I have this belief how you do anything is how you do everything. And so improv was the sandbox. We were just playing with some amazing life skills in a way that I didn’t realize it like it was like a Trojan horse like we were playing the game like I went for the pure enjoyment of having something to do for two hours on a Monday night. That was so much fun with some amazing people. That’s what I was going for. Little did I know that I was becoming a better listener, a better active listener. I was becoming even more empathetic. I was able to collaborate better, not that I wasn’t doing these things already.
But I started seeing these things. I was like, wow. And so as a leader in wanting to engage My team, I didn’t want to just like Alright, now I’m going to lecture you on the Five Dysfunctions of a team. And we’re going to talk about all these things. I was like, I think I can better illustrate that with this improv game. And on Fridays, I would bring these improv games in, and we will play them like, we just play, you know, one word at a time story. And then we will talk about it’s like, Alright, cool.
What, how can we do this better? Like, how can we be a better listener? How can we support each other? What was that like? when, you know, someone made a mistake, but we adapted that mistake? How did it feel like, you know, we just were talking about these things. My team, yeah, again, got better as well. So then I’m like, there’s something that’s why I thought like everyone needed it, it needed to take it off. And it’s true. We saw the effect of it. I saw the effect and, and it’s one of these things where, as I learned about the power of play, play is just a simulation.
It’s like your brain is allowing you to suspend belief of what’s going on for the rules of the game. It’s like, the hero’s journey in that, like, you’re you willingly give up your beliefs and and whatever for the rules of the game that’s like how games work, like, Alright, we’re gonna play this game. Like if you think about like golf, golf, the rules of golf is you’re gonna take a tiny ball and you’re going to take a stick, and you want to see if you can get the ball to go into a hole that is way far away. Like that is not the most effective way of doing it. But yet, we agree to these rules.
Yeah, and there might be some sand in the way too, right?
Gary Ware 18:45
And there’s obstacles. There’s all these things they’re going to get in the way Yeah, and impede your progress. But yet we agree to these rules. We step into the play zone, we agree to these rules. And we just we do it, you know it.
Oh, I see. Yeah, I mean, you can think the same thing about baseball like, think about like, your suspending…yeah. Oh, I love that, I never thought of it that way.
Gary Ware 19:07
And that’s the power of this is that our brains are so malleable is that and this is why you can have such a deep belonging and deep connection is that you are having like all of these happy chemicals are happening and your brain is recording all of this and your brain is starting to say I feel good. Oh, I’m playing with Tim. I must like Tim, because I’m I’m feeling good. Tim is doing Tim’s helping me out. We must be friends.
Cool. Tim, we’re friends, like your branches like doing that automatically. Yeah. And it’s just making these associations. And then before you know it, you your identity is shifting because you’re like, you know what, I’m the type of person on stage that listens and help collaborate.
Well, that must I must be someone who collaborates well, and then another scenario shows up like that, and then you’re just going to Like your identity, like, that’s the whole point of our identity, we’re going to do the things that are going to support the identity identity that we have ourselves. So over the course of eight weeks, I slowly practice important skills that helped me with my job. And then I just like, it seemed magical, like I magically was just better at my job. But little did I know I was doing that. But if you think about it, like you have a child, how does your child
My son is nine and my daughter’s five.
Gary Ware 20:31
Okay, so you you’ve been along the journey, everything that kids have done, like, especially in their, like, the first like 10 years of their life is through play.
Oh, yeah. I mean, I feel like having children or being around children, definitely having children. I mean, you see that that’s what really drew me to when I saw that you were working with play. I’m like, I mean, you can see that with your kids. I mean, they are and especially like you said, as you’re getting older, like my son now. He’s definitely the director type. My daughter is I think probably the mover. I mean, she, you mentioned maybe not as competitive. She’s very kinetic she has to be. I mean, she’s a gymnast, basically. I mean, she’s nine gymnastics now due to, you know, COVID.
But I think she’s got a little bit of a competitive side at least against herself. But yeah, I mean, I see that and I think, you know, not Where did I go wrong? Or my regrets, but like, I mean, obviously, I’m not playing as much as they are, or as much as I was at their age, or even as much as I was when I was, you know, five years older than they are. And I think why not? Like, because everything you’re describing here, yeah. Why not? Why are we not playing very
Gary Ware 21:43
Well, that is that is one of the things where it’s, it’s more of conditioning. Where we are conditioned, that play is something that you do after you get the work done, or play is, you know, you often hear people Stop playing around. Stop, you know, and if the association is play is something that you that kids do, or is a juvenile thing or it leads to like, loss of productivity. Why would you play?
Well, yeah, and our adults, yeah. Producing so like play happens after you produce. I see.
Gary Ware 22:24
Yeah. And so so there’s a lot of play shaming. And so that was the thing with me. I felt like this dissonance of like, I don’t think I should be playing like I felt guilty. Like I literally felt guilty. Like when I first started doing the improv class, I felt guilty, leaving on time from work to do something outside of work. Saying that out loud right now sounds silly.
But it sounds silly, but we fall I mean, I can empathize. I’m sure so many others listening can empathize. That’s so common, I feel like.
Gary Ware 22:55
Yes, and so that’s why it’s all about changing the definition. Have a play. And so there’s a few things. There’s a researcher, her name is Jane McGonigal, she wrote this amazing book called Super better, where she was exploring how play in games can make us more resilient, you know, help us adapt to change all these other things. She explores video games. In her research, there was just as much data that supports that video games are disruptive and destructive to our sort of social skills and well being as games that will help build us up.
She said, there is one thing that is different, like between the people that use it for to power up versus the people that that don’t, okay, and that is your purpose or your intention. So if you go in with a mindset of like, I can’t deal right now. You use play as an excuse, and escape like to do something else.
Well then that is going to become your pattern that’s going to become how you deal? Oh, I’m stressed out, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t deal with responsibilities right now. I’m going to procrastinate with play, well, then no, you’re not going to be productive. And it’s just it just like any other sort of addictive behavior. It’s not going to support you. However, if you go in and say, you know what, I need more energy. I am feeling depleted. I’m going to play for five minutes, 10 minutes, and it is going to help me sort of reset and then I’m going to go right into the work. Those people that have that mindset use play for its higher purpose.
So that’s the first thing is thinking of like, Alright, I need to change my mindset, and then set up an environment where I can reap the benefits of play. And then the other thing is a researcher His name is me. Hi, chick sent me Hi. He talks about flow and flow when you’re in flow. You, time goes by like this, you’re being challenged just enough, you know, you’re getting immediate feedback. And, you know, you you’re enjoying it like, and plays very similar.
A lot of people when you’re in the state of flow, like you’re in the flow at work, you’re essentially playing. So if once you start to change, like that, sort of like, what you believe play is and realize that play something that is a necessity, well, then it’s like, a we should be doing it, but it’s, we’re just not set up to reap the benefits. That’s my current belief. And so we have, we gotta change that.
Yeah, we do. It’s interesting what you said about like the intention. So I’m thinking of an old friend from you know, childhood, played video games a lot, a lot, a lot, a lot. And we would play at his house and stuff. But like, now that you mentioned that, I’m like, well, the intention there was definitely just like, I think for him especially was just, I mean, this is, you know what I do and maybe an escape but I, you know, I didn’t see it now I think about it, there was no like Northstar there of like, Well what you know, why am I doing this? That’s so interesting.
Whereas, yeah, like you described you could, yeah, play video games and have more of an intention or like what what am I? If what you just said about? is it all about, like you mentioned like you might not even realize you’re playing Is it is it about basically the chemicals that our brain, like kind of the effect it’s having on our brain and the chemicals is producing, you know, like the dopamine and all that? Is it? Like maybe you you’re creating that and not realizing it turns out it’s from play, you know, maybe not where you consider traditional play.
Gary Ware 26:48
Yeah, that’s what I call purposeful play, like in that you are using play to have a specific outcome. And so, like, for example, you know, dopamine helps you focus. If you do something, and you get it right or you like you get the seebeck, you get dopamine, which signals to your brain like, Oh, I’m on the right track. That way. That’s why like, if you ever pick up your phone, and you see a notification that you got an email, and then you go and check it, you get a little hit of dopamine.
I hate that.
Gary Ware 27:18
It happens, but aware of it, but I hate that, like, I can do that to myself.
Gary Ware 27:24
Exactly. And you can do that through play. And so like, that’s why you just set it up in an environment that’s going to be beneficial. Now, one quick thing that I want to mention, and this is how I help people, especially around video games, and other things, see the benefits. And before I tell that I’m going to tell like a quick story about a research project that Forgive me, I don’t remember who did it, but they basically had nurses.
And they had one set of nurses where they basically told them that the amount of work that they were doing and they did this with nurses They did this with house housekeepers. They did this with all kinds of people. And they basically told them, Hey, you know what all the work that you’re doing is a lot of aerobic exercise, and it’s burning x y&z that’s all that they did. They just alerted them to that. Those people ended up losing weight without doing anything.
Whoa, that’s fascinating.
Gary Ware 28:21
Yesterday, my brain was like, like, oh, wow, I didn’t, I didn’t realize that. And then like, once they started seeing that, then they started realizing like, and then, you know, maybe they started getting motivated to do other things. But just that little tip off is sometimes just enough. And so when I, I love to ask people like, oh, what game you know, did you like to play as a child? Like, whether it’s video games or whatever? They’d tell me like, what skill do you think you learned or started to master by playing that video game or that game?
Then they start thinking like, Oh, I never really thought of it from that from that point. That’s one of the things about play is if you could start to think Like how is this benefiting? They say like when you’re playing a game, you could be playing against each other like a video game against each other. Your heart rate and brainwaves start to synchronize. And that synchronization creates oxytocin and serotonin, which is the trust and belonging hormones. And now you’re bonding with each other.
Gary Ware 29:28
In Jane McGonigal’s book, she talked about this, she had a case study about this family that the two kids they ended up liking each other getting married, and it was like not your typical sort of marriage and the families were very traditional and those types like didn’t get married. I don’t remember I think it was like a religious thing is like maybe one was Catholic women’s church or something like that. And the parents, like sort of didn’t like each other, but this was back around the time of Farmville. They were all sort of like connected on Facebook.
And it was like, not really a feud, but they just didn’t get along. But in Farmville, if you remember that game, you have crops and then you invite people to like, like, take care of your crops, and or tend to things and then you get stuff. And so, you know, the game created an environment where you’re like, I just need again, you’re taking all of your current beliefs and setting it aside for the rules of the game. The rules of the game is Oh, get people to help you.
You know, the people that you’re connected with on your social platforms, get them to help you, you get out of things, and so they were getting help in the game, from the other parents, you know, they were helping each other just because it was part of the game. And unconsciously, they started liking each other more. Because in the game, that person did them a favor. Oh, they’re in LA. They again, because they suspended all belief for the rules of the game. Over time, those new beliefs of the game like started to overwrite the current beliefs, and then they started without any other intervention started to trust each other a bit more.
I love that, I think there is so much to the bonding aspects. Look at like sports, right? That’s a form of planning. And I mean, how many of us? Yes, we’re in sports at one point or another in our lives and develops great relationships from teammates and stuff. Yeah, I totally see that. You. You mentioned earlier that you were burnt out as the director at the marketing agency, and that’s where you went. Or when you went to the first improv class.
Yes, that kind of changed your life. What what kind of led up to like that the burnout? Was it just traditional, like, I’m working too much, or was there a lot going on in life or like, you know what, what kind of brought you there?
Gary Ware 31:51
To be honest, it’s hard to describe, because it happened in such little increments. That, you know, you know what they say like, the best way to kill a frog or cook a frog is to put it in lukewarm water and slowly turn off the heat. Yeah, like, that’s just like fine like so I at this. So as a start up. And so I started getting because I was good at my job, technically I like I knew how to do like my job very well. And as we started to grow, I started to get promoted.
So I started to get more and more responsibilities. And it was like, Oh, you know what, here’s one more thing, or here’s one more thing, and so I would take them on. And before I knew it, I was like, What is going on? Why, like, you know, I would be looking forward to the weekend. And I would, you know, go through the weekend, but like, it felt like it took the whole weekend to like, catch up on sleep. And then by Monday, I was like, Oh my gosh, and I felt like one of those old phones that when you charge it, it’s the battery’s dead by noon.
That’s a fantastic analogy. I know exactly what you mean.
Gary Ware 33:00
It just felt like and this the thing, right, like felt ashamed. I’m like, I’m doing the job that I’ve always wanted to do. I have the things that I wanted, like, you know, why? Why do I feel like this?
You’ve achieved success. Yeah, you’re like I’ve achieved success and wait, why am I not feeling successful?
Gary Ware 33:20
Yeah, why don’t I feel fulfilled? Like I don’t, I don’t get it. And then I took that improv class and it gave me that rest that I needed. I didn’t realize that, oh, I could take a break. The world’s not gonna go, you know, I, I just thought I was doing all the things I was supposed to do. You know, that’s when I was the type of person that was using hard work as a badge of honor. I was always like, yeah, I’m busy. Oh, yeah.
You know what, oh, you worked, blah, blah, blah. I worked, you know, I worked 12 hours, you know, blah, blah, blah. And, again, there’s a lot of research now that shows that anything over for eight hours without consistent breaks, your productivity will go down because you’re not going to be as accurate. And if you’re not getting enough sleep, it’s your brain functions as if you were drunk.
Yes! I say yes. Because like, this is something I’ve thought about a lot like, I’ve tried to become more aware of this. But like, when you’re actually being productive versus not like for me, for example, like this podcast, for example, I will in my life, I’ll put little windows of time like alright, tonight you need to prepare, you know, do the researcher Karis episode you’re gonna talk to him tomorrow, and they got to edit this episode and that and you know, maybe it’s been a long day or whatever.
And I told myself, I wasn’t doing it at night, and I’ll sit there and I’ll be working on it and um, you know, it’ll take me twice as long to research you know what i want to research that it should and I think to myself, well, wait a second Is it more important to get this done? time you gave yourself or is it maybe wait till tomorrow? Maybe you know you’re fresh in the morning, you’re more productive and do it then.
But it’s like this battle myself like, No, you said you would finish it tonight. You’re gonna finish it tonight. But the other side is like, well, you’re not getting anything done. You’re literally sitting here reading the same word over and over and there’s nothing positive happening here. So yeah, I definitely relate.
Gary Ware 35:23
And it’s we’ve been conditioned to, you know, to do that like that. Like it is all about output. You know, if you think about school and homework and stuff like that. It’s like, I feel like work is broken. We are treating work, just like it was back when the rules that were created, were created for assembly line workers. Did you know that? The eight, the 40 Hour Workweek the eight hour workday was invented by Henry Ford.
Yeah, I remember reading something about that.
Gary Ware 35:56
Yeah. And that was cut down from six days a week, 12 hours a day.
Oh, that part don’t remember.
Gary Ware 36:04
So if you’ve heard the term the Protestant work ethic, that’s where it comes from, in that. Henry Ford, for his assembly lines, were realizing that there was a lot of accidents being happening just because people were overworked. They were working six hours, or six days a week, 12 hours a day. And the reason why, you know, they were doing that was that there was this belief that if you weren’t working, you would get into trouble. And so he proposed and people thought he was asinine. By saying, they will get the exact same pay.
But they would work one day less and four hours, one day, one day, less than four hours less. So that’s where the 440 Hour Workweek came from. And essentially, everyone got raises because they worked a little bit less than they got paid the same amount. So it’s like you got a raise. And like, it was a little bit self serving because he was realizing that the Because everyone was working so much no one was buying cars because they didn’t have time to use them. Yeah.
Which is an important part of that business for sure.
Gary Ware 37:10
Exactly. And we are still, we are still like, on that same model of like, Oh, we need to work eight hours or eight hours a day, 40 hours a week, blah, blah, blah, where we have technology. And we have things that could make things easier. We don’t necessarily have to work as much. But yet, when it’s tied to our identity tied to our self worth, yeah, we’re gonna do that and in a quick story, so I started as I was exploring this I started doing I called the adult recess and it would be these little things on it was on the evenings and, and we will play like some improv games on throwing some other stuff and
You would just get other like adult friends, adult friends together.
Gary Ware 37:58
Yeah. um, You know, since I was in the agency world I like I’m like, Oh, this is great for people in the agency where they need it. And so a friend of mine, she was, like, maybe like an hour before and she sent me a text. Like, I don’t think I’m gonna be able to make it. I was like, oh, what’s up? What’s going on? She’s like, we got a big deadline. I’m just gonna have to, you know, you have to work late. And then I said, What do you trust me? Yeah, I trust you. I was like, This is what I invite you to do. I invite you to come to my thing. Have fun, go get a good night’s rest, and pick it up in the morning.
And she’s like, I don’t know. She’s like, Alright, you know what, I’ll come to your thing and maybe I’ll go back to work afterwards. I’m like alright, cool. You know it minimum do that. You know, because you need the break. It was like what you said like yeah, if you’re getting you know, you’re that overworking you haven’t been working. You probably haven’t been eating like the best that you can or you know, hydrating stuff like that. You just need to break So she came, she came to the bench. He had an amazing time. And I didn’t know what happened.
Like I just, you know, we said bye. I thought she was gonna go back to work. She didn’t. She went home and she got a good night’s rest. And I got this text about 11 the next day. And it was like she said, Gary, thank you so much. I had so much fun. It was your right, it was exactly what I needed. And guess what? I got to work early. And I got all the stuff done in probably a fraction of the time it would have took me if I would have stayed.
Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about.
Gary Ware 39:32
But again, we don’t. We don’t want to do this. And this is where we have a conflict. So when we’re stressed. We’re mammals and all mammals. I forgot the term but it basically means neatness. We’re neatness creatures, which means that we retain our juvenile features throughout our adulthood. And so we play you know, that, you know, it’s ingrained in us we should play, but we don’t always do that. Now animals that are stressed will not play. Because when you’re stressed, your fight or flight or freeze mechanism takes over. And you’re only looking out for what could hurt you. And play is a very is a thing that could get you killed. Because when you’re playing a vulnerable Yeah, you’re vulnerable. You’re very present you’re not looking out for what could attack you.
Gary Ware 40:28
So your body is like no, no, no, no, no, we don’t we don’t. We got threats, threats, you know, you’re looking for threats. And that is the the challenges the way that our brains are a little outdated. So the, the same parts of our brain that will light up as if there was a saber toothed Tiger is going to light up when you think about, oh my gosh, I’m not going to get this done in time I’m going to get yelled at by my boss, it’s the same part of your brain.
Wow, and you’re reacting to the exact same and so you need these interventions sometimes to just snap you out of that and like when I talk about, you know, embracing play. I say well you need an ally or I call it a playmate but you need someone that has your back that can spot when you are not at your best and invite you to play to like sort of like snap you out of it.
Yeah, I like that. I think that’s such a big part of it is being aware of it. That’s the hardest part too. I mean, I like the idea, because then you got to someone know, kind of watch her get your bat or have your back. But like, yeah, being aware of, especially with the productive, like needing a break play is a great example of needing a way to take a break, and a great, more, I mean, arguably a productive way to take a break. Being aware, like, I think this happens all the time with people.
If you use like software engineering, as an example, you talk to a software engineer, and they’re coding and they’re in the zone and they’re trying to solve complex problems, a couple hours, whatever. Then they’re stuck. And they’re just stuck on something. Just simply getting away from the problem for a short period of time, to be honest, probably even have to play probably go for a walk, but I think playing will probably accelerate this. You come back or maybe During that time, you just clear your head you take a moment fresh air, and then you come back. Problem solved.
I mean, it’s the same example you gave and I gave of, you know, you’re banging your head against wall banging your head against the wall. It’s like, you’re not gonna get anywhere by like, being aware of that is so hard. I that’s why I like this idea of the account, or the ally because I mean, like, I feel like I’m better at this, but you know, nobody’s perfect.
Gary Ware 42:53
Yeah. And so this is something you’re absolutely right. Like the walk to me the walk could be playfully like, you know, that could be seen as a, an act of play. And I have this thing called the play rebellion in that like you use play as a rebellious act to get more done. That aside, you’re right. If you are conditioned to keep doing it, you’re not going to do it. So you need to design this ahead of time, so that you can have a prompt. There’s a researcher, his name’s BJ Fogg. He has what is called the Fogg behavior model, which is stands for behavior equals motivation, ability and prompt. So you can have a specific behavior if the motivation is high enough.
And there is the ability to do it and there’s a prompt, any one of those things gone, you do not have the behavior. So if you want the behavior a plane, you need to have the motivation to do it, you need to have the ability to do it, and you need a prompt or a trigger. And so this is how you can reverse engineer it. Is, You know what, I know that I’m not at my best when I’m bla bla bla and what is the prompt that will force you to keep banging your head against the wall.
Oh, I get this all right. You know what, let me let me design this when I reach this is almost like an if then statement of like your programming, like if this is the condition, then I will do x you know, like I will get up and take a walk or I will do this and the but you have to like pre design it.
And this is the one thing that most people leave out and this is white takes more time to wire it in is that there’s no celebration. You know, when kids, as you probably know, you know, being a father when kids are learning to walk, they do anything that looks like walking, what do we do as an adult? like really? We’re so excited.
Oh my god, you’re just so amazing. Look at you look at you, you sort of took a step like, and, and it like, you know, they’re just so proud of themselves. And then as I do it, like, Oh, you took another step. Like we were celebrating everything we do that for kids, we you know, but then we forget to do it for ourselves because we, we don’t realize the mechanics of behavior, like once you learn this, then everything is easy. Or in the application, sometimes it’s challenging, but at least you have a fighting chance. Because most of the time people are just sort of like crossing their fingers hoping this will work. When it’s all is just like looking at art, what are the prompts?
What’s my ability, and this is the thing. Sometimes the ability is too hard, because you’re trying to do too much. And in that case, you’re going to default to what is normal for you like so for example, if you want to, you know, take more breaks. Well, guess what, you don’t have a prompt. There’s nothing to trigger a break. And you’re not used to taking breaks or your thought of a break is like something that is too hard to do. It’s like, well, then I have to get up, I have to go downstairs, I have to do this, that the other, that’s just too much. And and you definitely don’t have the motivation.
Because you’re like thinking about work. And you’re like, I don’t know if I can do this. So you’re not going to do it like, that is a recipe for disaster. But if you and BJ Fogg talks about this, in his book, tiny habits of what if you start by you know, you want to take more breaks. What if you start by the moment that the timer goes off or you notice certain things, you just stand up? That’s it.
As simple as that just stand
Gary Ware 46:33
And then you sit back down and then go back to work like I you know, it is super tiny. But that becomes your base habit.
Because you actually did something, yeah.
Gary Ware 46:43
You celebrate it and then you have a choice at that point. It’s like you know, what do I do other thing, but if if you were conditioned yourself that when this happens, at least I will stand up. You give yourself a fighting chance. And that becomes your base habit that you condition yourself. You’re more likely to like because you broke your sort of plane of consciousness, you’re more likely to do something else. But you have to make it super easy to do super, super easy to do.
One of the things I do I have right here I think of Legos. And I have a timer. And when I need when I when I’m in this like sort of deep work where I know I’m going to like I’m trying to be creative and it takes a lot of mental effort timer. goes off. I just been like for two minutes I just tinker with the Legos. For me, this is a recipe for Gary because I personally like Legos. I’m not trying to build anything in particular I just like the sort of kinesthetic like putting things together.
Yeah, I’m the same way I love dealing with Legos like you said, you I’ll do that while being having like a conversation like my son, I’ll be talking I’ll just be messing around Legos just like I’m I’m building a house or something but even aware of it. Like it’s just that I know exactly what you mean. I love that idea of the timer to like it goes off and just, I’m just gonna play Legos for couple minutes.
Gary Ware 48:06
We have to create an environment where play is possible. And a mentor of mine, her name is Gwen Gorton. She’s frickin amazing. She is she worked on Sesame Street, like she was a puppeteer on Sesame Street, in the 80s and she worked for IBM and all these big companies. I was like, she helped with innovation. And she, we met when I was exploring, like, what are the different areas of play? And it was one of those things like, you know, like when you see like, like he first learned about a Tesla, and then you see them everywhere. Yeah, that’s what it was for me. I was like, oh play and then everyone’s like, oh, have you met this person?
Have you met this person? Have you met this person? So someone introduced me to Gwen Gordon. And they’re like, you need to meet Gwen. So I was fortunate enough to be mentored by her she had like a playgroup. In this playgroup, she was talking about her seven paths to play, and she was saying, especially as adults, we need to design environments where we can play. So one of her seven pass the play is what does it play by design? So you need to design an environment where you can play or else you’re not going to play.
Yeah, that’s such a key part of it. I mean, we it’s so funny because you think about this and it sounds so obvious. Almost right like it is, right? If you don’t, cuz I mean, you can think about this in your earlier examples of games and the rules and how we suspend disbelief and we succumb to the rules. I mean, if you didn’t provide the environment, you know, baseball, if you don’t have the diamond setup, or some sort of basis, or some sort of markers to use as basis, then you can never do it like you weren’t setting yourself up to even begin. I love that. And it just seems so I’m like, smiling here.
Gary Ware 50:01
Yeah. So So yeah, it’s so simple, but you have to design it because the environment will always win. If you have an environment that’s not conducive to play, you won’t play. But it’s just the fact of the matter is, and I’ll give it like another context. Like me and my wife, we were trying to eat healthier. And we thought we were going to do by willpower alone. Like you know what? We’re not gonna we’re not about like, we put all these rules and and filters for real stars. Yeah, we all start with that like yeah And then we fell off the wagon. And we didn’t.
We didn’t like sort of really look under the hood and find out what are the triggers. And one of my triggers is if I get like hungry or not hungry, like tired, I tend to snack on things. And I want to eat healthier. But go back to the Fogg behavior model. motivation was the motivation, ability and prompt. The prompt is like I’m hungry. My ability to eat healthy at that moment was not that good, because I just don’t I haven’t practiced enough. And so I had high motivation, but it was really hard. Therefore, my older habit of eating junk food is right there, like the chips are right there. Yeah.
So what are you going to do? You’re going to eat the chips. And so you have to design an environment where you can win. And and so that’s like, one of the things like if you want to like really reap the benefits of play, how can you design a play full environment Where you want to play? Look, I have Legos within an arm’s reach. Yeah. So if I need to play if I don’t get a chance to, like, take a break, I have something that is playful for me. And an arm’s reach. I have a Aaron’s Thinking Putty, like, like all these things like I have, like, I can just sort of reach and I can do so I have like, no excuse.
Like, I like these, like playing carts and stuff. Um, but, you know, this is designed for me. You know, she was the one who introduced me to this whole thing of the compass of joy, and that’s her first path to play is played by delight, like, what are the things that are going to delight you and how can you bring more of that into your existence? That’s what I tell everyone start with that.
How do we bring more of that, like, how do you find it? You know, you at the very beginning of our conversation, you were talking about some research that suggested like, think about some instances of play from when you were really young, younger than 13. And when you said that, I was starting to think as I was listening to you speak I’m trying to think like, what examples do I have? And the one that sticks out? This is I don’t know why maybe you have some insight here but I always think about this there was this friend I had I don’t know what age it must have been somewhere between fourth and eighth grade I don’t know somewhere in what I call grammar school.
And we were he remember if he had been his mom lived with his grandparents maybe but we would always play single family home suburbs. We were playing their unfinished basement him and I and there was like this I guess almost a crawl space between the under the staircase a little bit you know, probably about four or five feet above ground level against you know, the back and we replay we call the base, I remember this and there was all sorts of stuff in there and we imagined we created I don’t know what we fought people are. But like, that is so vivid. And I think about that. So when you when you suggested that question, that’s what came to mind. But then I couldn’t think of anything else.
Gary Ware 53:26
Which is cool. Well, you know, you got to start somewhere. And then I and then I asked, I said, Now we want to break that down. Like, what about that? Did you enjoy? Like, you know, start to like, was it the fact that you created like the imagination? Yeah. So it’s the imagination. Yeah. Like, yeah, you’re creating something, you know, you’re doing it with someone else or like what we like, you start to experiment, like, what about that? And then you create, then you experiment with it. It’s like, Alright, maybe it was the imagination, or how can I do something similar but different?
Like, you know, it might not be feasible for you as an adult to just start climbing? Maybe, maybe it is maybe not, I don’t know. But like, what else could you do that has that essence? That you know, you can do in a short little bit like this is something that I invite you to do. So I do some creativity classes and one of the activities is design your dream?
Was it you design your dream play? Playhouse our treehouse So growing up, like we lived in a city, I always wanted to treehouse I and, and I didn’t get that ability I like it just wasn’t feasible. And but I always love to sketch them, like oh it’s gonna have this gonna have this and then I forgot about it and so, just doing that is a fun activity Now, you may or may not be met with some resistance.
So what when I do this when I facilitate this, you know, I get people about like 1015 minutes I draw it out, start sketching out design it like what does it have, like it can have anything like you have unlimited budget, you like, you know, it can you know, it can go past this reality what it doesn’t even matter, like, just go go bonkers with it. And some people just the act of just doing that is so amazing.
They like wow, that was so much fun just to engage their imagination, and just Daydream for a bit. Some people are met with resistance and this is because there’s a challenge with another play personality, the artist, and they don’t believe that they can draw so they they don’t allow themselves to Have the time because they like why can’t sketch this out? In my head, it looks perfect. And when I put it down on paper, it looks bananas.
They’ve stopped themselves before they’ve even begun.
Gary Ware 55:40
Yeah, exactly. And so that’s like one of the part of the debrief of like, Alright, cool, like, all right, if you’re doing this, there were also you like sort of stopping your own creativity, yada, yada, yada, but just the act of daydreaming and scoping things out, like, and then I’m like, Alright, cool. We’re done with it. Like, you don’t have to do anything with it. Like, I’m not saying now you’re going to go to Lowe’s or whatever it start, like, you know, you know, you’re not going to go to like an architect and start doing this like no, but you’re just engaging a part of you.
That’s probably been dormant for a long time. So that might be you know, fun. And one of the things that I didn’t realize that was a lot of fun for me is so my son, I guess the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. I was like you I did a lot of similar things like me, and my Like, we used to make these forts in bushes, so there was like these like low like sort of shrubs and stuff like that.
That had like, like these intricate, like, sort of like branches on the inside. So like we will make them our forts. And that was just like what we did it was all outdoor outside and like as an adult, I’m thinking like, I’m like, Oh my god, how dangerous that could be like, unless what I’m saying, right, whatever we didn’t get hurt, we had fun.
Um, but my son he loves doing stuff like that and like he like invites me like data come into my fort come into like, like and it just all made up and stuff like that like, and it’s so much fun like so it was like, I allowed him to lead me into play. And I allowed myself to like not be good at it or like not know what’s going on and and take all of that like adult needing to like know exactly what we’re doing and be good at it took all that aside for like a good bit. And it was fun. It was like it was really cool to do.
That’s such great advice to like you were just talking about the person drying the treehouse, you know, resistance from themselves of I can’t draw. I think we do that so much, especially with play, just in general like and I don’t think it’s even intentional or conscious maybe but like we like I think the advice you have there is great like just suspend everything like there are no I think about this with like when you’re developing new ideas you know products or ideas and you at the very beginning you want to just throw out all the possible restrictions throw out any possible obstacles.
Get rid of that all create a safe space and just dream what is the ultimate dream here and we’ll figure out the logistics later. I feel like that’s what we got to do with play is like, like sit down and stand up whatever but don’t like throw out all these things, you know, are all these possible wall we can’t do this or this is? Yeah, I love that. Like just throw it all out and just like be free.
Gary Ware 58:25
Bring back your inner child. Which is like, there was this quote, that was adults are just kids who atrophy.
Oh, geez. I mean, yeah, that’s, yeah.
Gary Ware 58:40
Oh yeah. And that’s just how it is like we get older and for whatever reason, like…do you remember? Have you seen the Peter Pan with Robin Williams?
Is that the with Hook?
Gary Ware 58:54
Hook, yeah, sorry.
Gary Ware 58:57
There’s this scene that are even thinking about it. Like sort of gets me choked up is where like, he’s back with the Lost Boys. And then there’s the little kid, a little black kid and like, he like looks a minute. He’s like, there you are, Peter. And it’s almost like he looks to his soul. And he sees the inner child of Peter and I was like, yeah, we are like, Robin Williams as Peter Pan.
We forgot what it was like to imagine. Like we forgot all of that. Yeah, the imagined part. Yes. That’s what I see. Most of my kid is I’m reminded, I see the imagination they have I see it developing. I see it being exercised. And I think I was like that I have that imagination. I mean, I still do. It’s in a different way it’s evolved. But one could argue maybe it’s not exercised as much as it was. And that’s what we forgot. Yeah, there’s a good friend of mine. He’s a play advocate.
His name is Jeff Harry. He says, there is a time and we don’t really know when that is. But there’s a time when you go to the playground, and it’s your last time, like after you leave that you’d like you’d never come back. Oh, man, you’re right, because we just grow up, you know. And so I think that’s just one of the things is, is just a muscle and when we stop using it, for whatever reason, it just atrophies.
But the cool thing is you can work that muscle in little increments, and it will bring you a lot of joy and it has a lot of benefits, you know, in other areas. So yeah, because imagination is just innovation. You know, like you’re just data D stuff. Like you know that if you think about like anything that we have in this modern day and age, it was so someone imagined it at some point. It’s true.
I like that muscle comparison because then it makes you realize, if you feel like it’s gone, it’s not gone. It can be regrown, it can be shaped, it can be toned. It can be regularly exercised, and it can be a part of who you are.
Gary Ware 1:00:57
And you have to like first get out of your own way and believe that it’s possible. Because NASA did a study, they followed kids from kindergarten through high school, and at age five of that cohort, 90% of them had genius levels of creativity. By 18, it was only three 3%.
What changed in that time?
Gary Ware 1:01:20
I know. So it started to decrease around 13. So puberty, so that was that around the age where you get your your peers and Some of them have innate abilities. And you don’t use art to judge like all that person can draw this not drawing I guess I can’t draw and you just such as just like, it becomes. Yeah, yeah, limiting yourself. It’s a self fulfilling prophecy. I’ve done that. I remember there was this there was this kid, his name is Mark Lohan.
It’s funny, like a certain situation, you remember their full name, like I’m like, I thought about marketing. decades, like, but I know it’s full name, Mark Loman. Dude was like an amazing artist. Like his ability to draw was like, amazing. This was like in sixth grade. He used to draw like, these amazing things. I was like, wow, he’s good. I’m like, see my drives. Then I’m like, I’m comparing him like, well, he can draw, I can’t draw and it just became the thing and you became a person who doesn’t draw or can’t draw.
Like I said earlier with identity, you will fulfill the identity that you think you are. The interesting thing with a lot of people a lot creativity and artistic isn’t the same thing. It’s like synonyms, but they’re different creativity is just the ability to solve problems in a new and novel way. That’s it. artistic ability is subjective. But nonetheless, like over the time, you just don’t think that you can do it you’re not in. And if you don’t think you can do it, you’re not going to want to work that muscle. So you just let it sort of just die off. And then you’re being called to be creative. And, and it reminds you of that time when you were in, in middle school, and you drew something and people laughed at it. So like, you’re like, No, I don’t want to do that.
I like that. That idea of, you gotta. I mean, it’s what you were talking about. You got to set yourself up for success. You got to create the environment, because if you feel like you can’t do it, then it’s just a self fulfilling prophecy. I mean, you’re gonna feel like I’m a failure in this and I can’t do this and I’m never gonna be able to exercise this muscle then.
Gary Ware 1:03:18
Great. Yeah. And then you won’t do it. But if you just say, you know what, I’m just going to just see what happens and I like to say come from a place of non judgment, awareness. You can either good nor bad. It is what it is. Just draw. I was fortunate enough to work with an amazing graphic facilitator. Her name is Heather Whelan’s. We did a we co facilitated a virtual workshop on it, we call it playing with fear. So, in this workshop, we were doodling. We were talking about fear, and we’re drawing our fears and stuff like this.
It was a great me playing with my own fear because I had this like, sort of belief that I couldn’t draw. And so I was scared going into this. I was doing the improv side of it. She was doing the drawing side. So like we would, we would, you know, she would facilitate us on drawing some fears. Then I would we would act out like, What is that like and stuff like that. As the CO facilitator, you know, I’m drawn along just like everyone else, and it was really cool, a safe space of like, look what I drew, and she’s like, it’s completely fine.
Matter of fact, another friend of mine is a doodler, and I had her I did a live chat with her and she took us through the art of doodling as a stress reliever and I’ll send you the link so you can share it if anyone’s interested. But that is again, you’d have to just suspend belief in your ability and just just do it for the sake of doing it.
Tim 24:16 1:04:44
Suspend belief. I think that’s the big takeaway for me. Gary, thank you so much for taking the time. I’m telling you, when this COVID thing is all over whenever I’m, I’m I don’t know what improv class but I’m signing up. And after I take that first one, I’m gonna message you and give you my face. You know, see how I feel. But I mean, it’s funny, you know, what’s really funny is that like, after I wrote that down, I got so excited. And I thought like, I don’t know when this is gonna happen, because it could be a couple months, you know, I don’t know how long you know, until everything opens back up again, but I thought I can now wait.
I am so excited. I flashback to the high school. You know how many years ago was that? I just naturally love I love like, trying to pick up on new words that concept of just bouncing off each other and being quick and witty and not even not not funny, but like just the ability to respond, you know, like, keep it going like I have no idea what you’re gonna say next. But anyway, long way of saying thank you. You’ve inspired me. I know you’ve inspired others. So thank you.
Gary Ware 1:05:47
My pleasure. Thank you for having me, Tim. It’s been Yeah, it’s been a delight time. Again, we were playing we were playing together. Time went by quick.