I grew up in the stables and dreamt of being an equestrian for as long as I can remember. I participated in my first competition at the age of six and entered the competition arena together with a 350-kilo white playmate called Bobbi. We didn’t win the trophy—we didn’t even make it to the final. But we sure had lots of fun.
My mom—who isn’t just my mom, but also my boss!—is an amazing woman. She has the energy of a Duracell bunny, will of steel, and skills like a Viking. She drove me to training camps, taught me how to muck out a stable, and patched my elbows when I fell off the horse. She’s one of the most resourceful and industrious people you could ever meet, yet it’s her who taught me the concept of play when in games.
The real competition is not out there, but in you, my mom once told me. Through her massive support and encouragement, she assisted me in all the different ways to turn fear into an ally and bearing flatwork into a mysterious jungle of flying tigers and pink grasshoppers. She asked me to pay close attention to the fun parts of life.
Once, I was walking to the course with my coach. Feeling nervous as it was a complicated one and I just got a new horse, I realized I had forgotten the third fence as I entered the arena. But at that moment, I looked up to the crowd and saw my mom standing there in a big, neon pink jacket.
“Chase the pink grasshoppers, sweetie!” she yelled down, and instantly, my shoulders dropped and I managed to remember the right order of the fences. That simple reminder to look at the brighter side turned the scary competition arena into a play pit filled with fun.
This became my mantra. It lives on at my work in Miit today, where children are our most beloved mentors. Research supports that work and fun should be inseparable. Together, we turn fear into an ally and combine serious work with serious fun.
It guided me through every practice, every show jumping arena, university exams, through our first office in Stavanger, to being a leader in other parts of the world, to sleepless nights as a new mother, to the stick and ball field in Singapore, and to the day I stood face to face with Sunny Hale, former female world champion in polo.
Sunny lost her life to cancer a few years ago, and I am forever grateful for the opportunity to get to know and play against such an amazing opponent and friend. Even though she was a professional athlete, she was all about bringing fun into every practice and tournament. She was my role model for many years, so when we defeated her and her team in 2015, it was a particularly emotional victory.
The secret behind every extraordinary performance is not anger, fear, and blood-dripping fingers from playing the violin ten hours a day. It is not having a coach yelling at your kids, forcing them to run faster. You can’t intimidate anyone to give an elite performance. Anything you enjoy, you’re naturally going to do better and give more of yourself to. When you are in an emotional state of fun, where you feel optimistic, energetic, creative, and playful, you’ll produce very different (and more often than not, better!) results.
So, we want you to have just as much fun at work as you used to when you were a kid. We want to chase the pink grasshoppers—and play your way to the top.
What's Your Reaction?
Anne Gry Ringen is the previous patron of Paisano Dragons Polo Team and currently the managing director of Miit in Norway.