The 3 Types of Fun

Last week, I went on an adventure with my son, Clay.

We first traveled to New Mexico, where we met up with my nephew and his girlfriend to hike Wheeler Peak. At 13,115 feet, Wheeler Peak is the highest point in the state.

Clay and I then drove to Colorado, where his girlfriend joined us, and the three of us summited Mt. Elbert, the state’s highest point standing at 14,433 feet.

It was a challenging but fun trip featuring loads of laughs, a fair bit of rain, and plenty of miles hiking up and down the mountains. Along the way, I recalled how adventurers often talk about the 3 Types of Fun.

  • Type 1 Fun is fun in the moment, and it’s fun when you reflect on the experience.
  • Type 2 Fun is not fun in the moment, but it’s fun when you reflect on the experience.
  • Type 3 Fun is not fun in the moment, and it’s not fun when you reflect on the experience. (But Type 3 Fun makes for great stories and plenty of lessons learned.)

The 3 Types of Fun concept applies to your work as well.

  • You experience Type 1 Fun through organized activities and spur-of-the-moment exchanges that make people smile, laugh, and enjoy one another’s company.
  • You experience Type 2 Fun when you tackle a challenging task or project. True, it’s tough to do at the time, but when you and others reflect on the effort or teamwork required, you experience a sense of pride and find value in reliving the incident.
  • You experience Type 3 Fun when you and your team hit tough times, and the best you can do is persevere. These are times when you lose a big customer, have to lay off team members, or struggle through any situation that pushes everyone to their limits, damages team morale, and serves as a sore spot that no one wants to experience again. Type 3 Fun moments are painful to experience and tough to recall, but it’s critical to capture the lessons learned, share them, and work to avoid these situations in the future. By learning from type 3 fun, we can have more type 1 and type 2 fun in the future.

This Week’s Questions

  1. When was the last time your team experienced Type 1 Fun, and how can you experience it again soon?
  2. When was the last time your team experienced Type 2 Fun, and how did the experience make your team stronger?
  3. When was the last time your team experienced Type 3 Fun, and what did your team learn from the experience?

This Week’s Challenge

Introduce your team to the 3 Types of Fun. Show them the video and ask each team member to complete the tool. Discuss their answers. Listen to the energy and enthusiasm emerging as they discuss Type 1 and 2 Fun examples. Also, reflect on the Type 3 Fun situations and how you can work together to avoid them in the future.

3 Types of Fun at Work on Your Team

This Week’s Podcast

This week’s podcast guest is Erica Ariel Fox. She joins me in the Leadership Lab to discuss how we can draw on our four intelligences, the importance of moving from limiting beliefs to liberating beliefs, and the need to rethink our leadership blind spots.

Erica is a lecturer at Harvard Law School, where she has taught for over 20 years. Her first book is the New York Times bestseller Winning From Within. She is a Senior Contributor for Forbes and a trusted advisor to CEOs worldwide.

Episode 150: Win From Within with NYT Bestselling Author Erica Ariel Fox