Essentialism Chapter 7 Discussion Questions

The Value of Play

 

Questions for Essentialism Chapter 7

Download a printable pdf version here.Essentialism Questions Ch. 7

This is a list of discussion questions to help work through the content of the book “Essentialism” By Greg McKeown.

Major principles:

Recreation and play does not threaten a productive life, it is vital part of helping us grow and become more creative.

Key examples/illustrations

  • The story of Mr. Banks from the movie Mary Poppins. His dreary life is transformed by something as simple as flying a kite
  • Author Ken Robinson has expressed how our education system is killing creativity in children.  This transformation arrived with the Industrial Revolution.
  • Stuart Brown and the National Institute for Play. He has published scientific research about the impact of play on our brains.
  • The correlation between survival in animals (like the grizzly bear) and rates of survival.
  • Edward M Hallowell, psychiatrist, speaks about the effect of play on the executive function of the brain.
  • Throughout history many great discoveries happened during times of play.

Questions

  1. McKeown defines play as, “Play, which I would define as anything we do simply for the joy of doing rather than as a means to an end.” What are some activities in your life right now that fit this description? Use this definition to make a list of things you have done in the last 6 months for play.
  2. As children we did not need to be taught how to play.  Children play at all times, even during sickness and tragedy. What does this suggest to you about the importance of play?
  3. It is easy to view play as a waste of time.  Highly driven people and teams may even consider it something trivial or unproductive. What is your view? How do you feel about playing? What does your inner voice say to you when you stop work to engage in recreation?  What pressures or beliefs are communicated to you by your peers and culture regarding play?
  4. There are some people that are “all play and no work.” These excesses may prevent us from seeing the virtues and benefits of play.  Do you know someone in your life that is a productive and playful person? Someone who is highly effective and yet takes time for hobbies and recreation? Describe this person and their productivity as well as their play.
  5. The author uses the term imaginative play. What does this mean to you? Is there a difference between imaginative play and other kinds of play? Is one better than the other?
  6. Sir Ken Robinson says that imagination produces achievement. If imagination is a muscle, then play exercises that muscle. Do you agree with this?  Why? In your experience how has play helped you to develop your imagination?
  7. You have probably heard someone explain how they ruined a hobby by turning it into a “for profit” business.  How can you guard your important hobbies or play from the obligations that might destroy them?
  8. Stress kills creativity. Play can help to decrease stress. What stresses are you facing currently? How can you use recreation and play to decrease your stress?
  9. Which activities help you to feel light and free? Which activities help you to forget your problems?
  10. Many great discoveries and inventions happened during play. Have you ever had a breakthrough during a time of play?
  11. Many successful companies incorporate play in their corporate structure.  Examples include Google, Twitter, Apple, etc.  does your business or work encourage play? Why or why not?
  12. What activities outside of work do you must enjoy? Which activities would you like to try? Make a list
  13. How can you add these activities to your calendar next week?
  14. Which activities were your favorite as a child? Explore this.  Does this play history reveal anything about you or what you enjoy doing?
  15. How can you use this knowledge to help you learn how to play as an adult?

When Father Is A Monster: Stalin’s Daughter

Joseph Stalin was a monster who often treated his friends worse than his enemies. What was it like to be his daughter? Horrible.

Here are some snippets from a NYT review of a new biography on Stalin’s Daughter. It looks fascinating, but at over 600 pages, only serious history lovers will read it. But it looks fascinating.

 

“But as she [Stalin’s daughter] gets older, she starts seeing and hearing more, and sinister shadows creep into the light, dimming it little by little. The aunts and uncles begin to vanish one by one. Her grandmother says: “Where is your soul? You will know when it aches.” Her mother draws a little square over the child’s heart with her finger and tells the girl, “That is where you must bury your secrets”; then, before the girl’s seventh birthday, she shoots herself in her own heart with a Mauser pistol. The little girl’s world is shattered, never to be the same. Troubled and lonely, she will spend decades trying to escape the horror of her past, the terrible weight of history. “You can’t regret your fate,” she will say later, “though I do regret my mother didn’t marry a carpenter.” She is Svetlana, her father is Joseph Stalin, and her extraordinary story is the subject of “Stalin’s Daughter,” Rosemary Sullivan’s thoughtful new biography.

“In 1967, 14 years after Stalin’s death, Svetlana Alliluyeva created an international scandal by defecting to the United States, only to return to the Soviet Union in 1984, then run away again in 1986, each escape taut with cloak-and-dagger suspense worthy of any spy thriller. She fell in love disastrously and often, had three children from three of her four failed marriages, published several books, made a million dollars, lost a million dollars, moved from home to home with the restlessness of a nomad, abandoning the past again and again, driven by eternal disquiet, “always leaving things all over the globe,” in the words of her younger daughter, Olga, before dying nearly destitute in Wisconsin, at the age of 85, under the anonymous name of Lana Peters. Olga scattered her ashes in the Pacific Ocean. The historical context of Alliluyeva’s unsettled life, the immense monstrosity of Stalin forever looming behind her, makes her story impossibly haunting and equally impossible to put down.”

via ‘Stalin’s Daughter,’ by Rosemary Sullivan – The New York Times.