My 7 year old daughter had been spending her past few nights, busied with her colored marker pens and papers. Every once in a while, she will come up to me and asks, “Dad, what would you like me to draw now?” I will candidly play along and asked her to draw whole list of things like unicorns, cheeseburgers and clowns. She will gleefully accept the challenge and spend her next few minutes uninterrupted doodling away. When she was done, she will proudly approach me to show off her masterpieces, awaiting my nods of approval or smiles.
Last night was no different. She plonked herself beside me on the sofa with her tools, tapped away on her iPad, and quietly drew. At one moment, she turned to me and whispered shyly, “Dad, how do I spell rainbow? I want to draw a rainbow.” I spelled verbally to her as her dainty fingers typed away, spelling on the Google search box. She clicked on a random picture of a rainbow, and began staring at it. I then noticed that she took a quick glance at her colored marker pens. It was amusing to note her raised eyebrow though.
A few moments later, she nudged me on my shoulder and exclaimed,”Dad, I have my rainbow already. See!” I took a quick look at the picture she held out in front of me. I noted that she got the colors and arrangement of the colors right. But something stood out. Awkwardly.
“I notice that your rainbow has an extra color in it. Pink is not a color on a rainbow right? Didn’t you see on the picture? There is no pink.”
She took a quick look at the displayed picture of the rainbow on her iPad and then to her drawn picture. She nodded and took away the paper I was holding. “That’s the rainbow on the iPad. This is my rainbow, and I want pink, my favorite color on my rainbow.”
I chuckled in delight at her assertion. She was right of course. It was her rainbow, and she can color them in any way she wished.
How often have we lacked the conviction to own our own work? Or lay claim to the creative spark we input into processes or outcomes?
More often than not, as adults, we had learned to the idea that conforming is safe. That sticking to the status quo is so much better than trying to just a be little different.
Hence lies the problem. When we want to stay safe or remain status quo, we are in fact just painting the same rainbow as everyone else. The lack of creative effort and ownership on our part, makes the output be just another run off the mill product.
At a time and generation where differentiation is not just a novelty,but in fact a necessity, this conformity can be a weakness. Yes, drawing the same rainbow, will make you fit in for awhile. Then what happens? Will you be earmarked for progression in your organization? Will people remember you?
The simple yet meaningful lesson that I learned from my 7 year old last night was that, people should start drawing their own versions of a rainbow. You should too.