“Do you want to color?”
No other question stops a child in their tracks like this question. In fact, I saw it in person yesterday.
Mom is alone with three young girls and trying to maintain order.
The youngest of the girls is deep in play mode with a fresh new toy…she’s content.
The middle sister is crying because her older sister won’t share the mom’s iPhone…she’s jealous.
The oldest sister couldn’t care less about the middle sister crying, and a game of Angry Birds has her happy…oxymoronic, but par for the course – she’s the queen bee.
After the middle child cries uncontrollably for a while, the mom asks, “do you want to color?”
In a moment – time froze, the tears dried, and the middle child was enamored with colored pencils and drawing on a sheet of white paper. Jealous was given a creative outlet and found contentment.
Within sixty seconds the oldest sister drops the iPhone, grabs another sheet of paper, takes a colored pencil from pile, and begins to draw.
In another sixty seconds the youngest sister leaves the Happy Meal souvenir, takes her own sheet of paper, and joins the creative movement with her sisters.
The mom in this story was leading her children. What started as mass chaos, ended in orderly color creation.
This story casts a shadow that covers us all at some point. There is something hidden deep in our humanity that longs to draw, create, add color, and paint on the blank canvas. We all long to produce something out of the nothing.
As leaders we need to offer more boxes of Crayons and blank-white sheets of paper to those we are looking to lead. Sure, it’s OK to offer vision and direction – we have to – we are the leader. But first, we must offer an invitation to art class. Gifting our followers with trinkets (toys and iPhones) is not near as valuable as gifting our followers with freedom (paint and canvas).
We will begin to dent the world as leaders when our proverbial refrigerators are covered in the daily art of those we long to lead.
PS – Be sure to stockpile magnets to post their art on your refrigerator. Your followers love knowing you are proud of them and their work.