Remember when you were a kid and you had your box of zillion count crayons and you spent hours coloring in your coloring books, but you never really wanted to color outside the big bold outlines? Well, we are all big boys and girls now, and it is more important than ever that we try and leave those lines behind and try some new things.
For centuries some of the most influential people have been coloring outside the lines (Plato, Galileo, Lincoln, Einstein…). However it is more important than ever to make this change in our behavior. Where as a great many people may think that the reason to be different is to just make yourself more ‘interesting’, corporations are looking for this behavior for much deeper reasons.
- Innovation – When you ‘color outside the lines’ your thoughts might stray a bit, and that can be a good thing. You want to expand on current ideas, and stretch yourself a bit (ok, sometimes more than a bit). New ideas don’t occur in a vacuum, they often happen when someone sees another individual’s ideas and expands on them. If you just keep creating the same old colors, within the same old lines…..your just going to keep having the same old ideas, and keep turning out the same old stuff.
- Humility – It says a lot about a person when they are willing to leave there comfort zone and try coloring something new, and possibly in a completely new shape (and heaven forbid coloring in someone else’s coloring book). When you are willing to say that something else might be better for my company than what I am already doing, that I might be holding my company back by maintaining the status quo, and that I am willing to go somewhere new to make it better, that says that you are willing to put the team ahead of yourself. Some of the most successful organizations on the planet (Google, Apple, and Amazon) strive to find humble people who see the team as being a more important commodity than oneself.
- Teamwork – People like working with people who have different ideas and skills, it makes life more interesting, doesn’t it? Beyond keeping life from getting boring, people who ‘color outside the lines’ also generally contribute a lot more to the broader picture……a LOT MORE! The individuals who bring unique ideas and skills become an asset and strength for the group, because in order for the team to survive in a hostile environment, it must embrace change, this doesn’t happen without leaving the lines. Sure, it might seem counter-intuitive, but squiggling outside the lines adds a feeling of security to the team too….people like knowing that something new and interesting is going on within the company. Change is good, and people know it!
Of course there are many other reasons why you would want to be your own person, and do things in a unique way. But these reasons seem to hold the most value for corporations these days. Organizations are looking for interesting people who are individuals who know when to put the ‘team’ first, not just be concerned with themselves and how things benefit him or her.
The corporate mindset of doing the same thing because it’s comfortable may work in the short-term, however since things in the world of business are constantly changing these are not the kind of people they need for survival in the long-term.
Change is good!