I believe a six-hole miniature golf course is saving my sanity and our company. Games have a way of doing that.

The Change Companies’ championship golf course was designed by a few of our inventive employees, and it weaves around our sales floor, video studio and training rooms. Obstacles include Wally the Alligator, who always brings smiles and bogeys to anyone who challenges him.

Miniature golf isn’t the only game at our company. There are daily competitions of chess, basketball and Scrabble. There are frisbees to throw, hula hoops to spin, coins to toss and jigsaw puzzles to complete. People walk around the block or hike to a gazebo behind the building. We learn a new word and practice a Change Thought each week. And in an emergency case of ennui, people keep a supply of balls and toy airplanes at their desks to throw at each other.

In the process of having fun, fresh ideas form. People find solutions to problems and a renewed energy to complete jobs. Most importantly, this investment in total living is passed on to customers, who are treated with professionalism, enthusiasm and joy.

Over the last five years, most small businesses have struggled. It’s serious stuff: cash flows fluctuating, benefit expenses rising, valued customers cutting back or closing, dedicated employees being asked to do more. Some days, it makes me want to hide out in the broom closet.

But I’ve learned hiding gets me nowhere. Often, the best response to challenges, economic or otherwise, is to lighten up.

Play more.

Get a hole in one.

Relish in little bursts of fun each day. It’s hard to get stuck in rigid or unimaginative thinking when Wally the Alligator is waiting to chomp down on your ball.