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Growing Leaders Blog

on Leading the Next Generation


Laughing Leaders

Today, I’ll be short and sweet.

As I meet with students (both teens and twenty-somethings) they tell me they want their work to be “fun.” In fact, most of the kids in focus groups I have hosted say they want to mix work and play, throughout their careers. Welcome to Generation Y.

I actually think this is a good idea, as long as we, leaders, are focusing them toward a meaningful mission. If the team is on task, why can’t we laugh a bit and enjoy the journey? Perhaps it will make the work a bit more palatable. I realize our grandparents might think this is a crock—but work doesn’t have to be a chore or a bore or a snore. It can actually be something we are passionate about and along the way, something that provides some joy and laughter.

I just dug and discovered an interesting fact every adult should know. As we age, we laugh less. Yep, you read that right. Grown ups laugh less than kids. Here are the numbers:

  • Babies and toddlers laugh approximately 300 times a day.
  • By our teen years, it drops to about 6 times a day.
  • By fifty-two, we laugh an average of 2.3 times a day.

No wonder young people feel they need to remind us that they’d like to laugh and have a bit of fun on the job. Adults don’t.  We get so caught up in the “to do” list that needs our attention, we forget to smile.

So, here is my challenge for you today:

*  Slow down and find something to smile about as you begin the day.

*  Engage each person you meet in personal not just professional interaction.

*  Invest five to seven minutes looking for humorous videos on YouTube.Give your agenda some margins, so you’re not rushed with tasks or meetings.

*  Reflect for a few minutes on the funniest moments of your past month

*  Consider the most hilarious aspects of your work to someone on the outside. Then…go ahead and laugh about them.

Here’s to more laughing leaders today.



  1. Larry Glasser on August 16, 2011 at 8:08 am

    You made no mention of the Google work environment …

    • Tim Elmore on August 17, 2011 at 7:46 am

      You’re right Larry – thanks for sharing a great example!

  2. Craig T. Owens on August 16, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    How true… let’s lighten up, people!

    • Tim Elmore on August 17, 2011 at 7:47 am

      I hope that’s a good reminder – I often need to hear it myself!

  3. Laurfowl on August 16, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    Last night as my husband went in our four year old’s room to explain that he doesn’t like to spank her but God wants us, as parents, to discipline our children so they learn to be obedient. She turns, looks at him and says “what page is that in the Bible? I want to see it. ” Took everything he had not to laugh. Gotta love four year olds!!

    • Tim Elmore on August 17, 2011 at 7:48 am

      Ha! You never know what kids are going to say!

  4. Trent Thomas on August 17, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    I love this post.  I have often heard that comedians live the longest because they laugh the most often.

    • Tim Elmore on August 17, 2011 at 11:24 pm

      Interesting! So I guess laughter really is the best medicine 🙂

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Laughing Leaders