Last December, President Obama said in an interview with talk-show host Steve Harvey that “You can’t take yourself too seriously.” The president went on to say that while he takes his job seriously, he survives the stress of it by laughing often with his team. Author Charles C. Manz suggests in his article from Journal of Management Inquiry titled “Let’s Get Serious! … Really?” that this concept holds true for researchers as well and should be put into practice.
As academics, we do work that is both serious and significant. Yet, being too serious can interfere with our performance and enjoyment of the knowledge creation and dissemination work we do as researchers and educators. In this essay, I call for some reflection on the value of not being too serious. I offer some stories and simple prescriptions in the spirit of pursuing career and life balance, personal effectiveness, and, just as importantly, fun as a not-too-serious academic scholar.