Pretend for a moment that work is a creative playground, and we are all on it.

Which of these eight different “Play Personalities” would describe you, your colleagues, managers, clients?

The Joker

Revels in practical jokes, pranks and stunts. Always pulling people’s leg. Hardly ever serious, and/or hard to tell sometimes. Sense of social acceptance dependent upon making others laugh.


The Kinesthete

Someone who needs to move. A high degree of athleticism is built into his/her routine. Enjoys physical antics and displays of derring do.


The Explorer

Always poking around for the next cool thing in the universe. Never bored because there’s so much to do and see. Catch phrase is “I wonder…”


The Competitor

Wants to master any game. A natural maestro, attracted to virtuosity in others. Enjoys going over the rules to improve play, i.e. to WIN.


The Director

Plans and executes scenes and events. Born organizers of other people. Often a charismatic instigator of fun, he/she can hold the dynamic epicenter of a social space.


The Collector

Thirsts for the best and most interesting. Likes arranging and systemizing. Often travels far and wide to satisfy his/her impulses.


The Artist

Finds joy in creating something new. The quintessential “maker.” Sensitive to color, shape and texture. Likes getting things to look and feel just right.


The Storyteller

Always imagining new scenes. Enjoys perfecting his/her reality through playful augmentation. Invites others into situations and events to watch them unfold.

Granted, most of us are a mix of several of these, a Play Personality Parfait, if you will. The dominant stripes are basic archetypes to tap into for greater self-awareness. Learning them can also help identify the most effective ways to interact with others. I am experimenting with the concept of Play Personalities to understand high-level motivations for pulling out people’s greatness.


Inspired by PLAY: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul, by Stuart Brown, MD with Christopher Vaughn, (c) 2009