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AWARE Ink Newsletter

Red Rubber Ball Brings Play To The Workforce


Each month AWARE’s leadership team comes together in person to collaborate and coordinate across service lines, connect and learn from one another and model an effective organizational culture. During each meeting, the team sets aside time to explore ideas from thought leaders across varying industries within the context of our own programs and services. They have embraced the concept “leaders are readers” and are enthusiastic about continuous learning, growth and development. 

Last time, we dove into cross-cultural communication in The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman. This month, we’re looking at The Red Rubber Ball at Work: Elevate Your Game Through the Hidden Power of Play by Kevin Carroll.

Author Kevin Carroll is a former soccer player who became the head athletic trainer for the Philadelphia 76ers and later the “Katalyst” for creativity at Nike. He eventually moved on to become a speaker, writer and overall inspirer of social change. Kevin is an advisor to many organizations, and he harnesses the power of “play” to help each of them reach their full potential. Kevin discovered at an early age just how important “play” is in our everyday lives, and now he lives to share his philosophy with others.

In The Red Rubber Ball at Work, Kevin breaks down dozens of thought leaders and successful individuals based on their individual “play” history and current work. He organizes all of their profiles into five different sections and gives readers a snapshot of what “play” inspired at an early age and how it is still relevant in their current work. Kevin believes and proves that work can and should become a version of “play” to reach your true potential.

Whether through versions of innovation, results, teamwork, leadership or curiosity, Kevin believes that everybody’s childhood play is a source of passion that should be carried into adulthood and reflected in careers that are more than just jobs. When people embrace and adopt this idea, they thrive because the lines between “work” and “play” become blurry.

Kevin coins the term “purposeful play” and dedicates space in each section to provide examples, resources and tips to help you become more playful in life. His intent is to celebrate play as serious business. The power of play is beneficial to adults for its problem solving and creativity aspects but is often tossed to the sidelines because its seen as frivolous in most organizations. He wants to change this perception.


The book provides a fresh perspective to the meaning of work-life balance and inspires you to rethink how you approach your day-to-day life. Just think about it – how can you incorporate “play” into your work? Are there aspects of childhood playtime that can be reincorporated into your adult life? I’ll bet there are!


Have you read any great leadership books? We’d love to know what you’re reading! Let us know by sending an email to bhiggins@aware-inc.org.

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