When you’re a child, your creativity is measured by how well you can draw. If you can’t draw, by how well you can colour in.
I loved colouring but I was never any good at it. I always went over the lines, my friend Lydia and her sister would always win the colouring competition at Sunday school because they knew how to colour inside the lines. They were very neat with their colouring. I was not neat.
I couldn’t avoid colouring over the lines. I got so carried away in enjoying the process that sometimes I just couldnt help it!
So, I never won a colouring competition. I tried and tried and tried but I just couldn’t colour inside the lines.
Now that I’ve grown up I’ve started to realise that that is kind of like a metaphor for my life. I’ve never coloured inside the lines, I’ve never fitted inside anybody’s pigeonhole or criteria.
I’m a unique person with diverse interests, skills, experiences and talents so it’s been difficult to find a job that really utilises all of those things. I used to think that maybe if I could colour inside the lines I would be able to win.
I realise now that not colouring inside the lines is part of my personality, my character. Being a little bit of a renegade, going against the flow and doing things differently.
Not for the sake of being different but because I am different and that’s what makes me different. That’s what makes life interesting!
If we all coloured inside the lines we’d still travel everywhere on horseback, because a horse was adequate. But a visionary harnessed steam, another invented the combustion engine, and another the jet engine!
Without George Stevenson, the Orville Brothers or Sir Frank Whittle pushing the envelope we would never have landed on the moon!
Each generation took the vision further than the former. Life needs renegades to challenge it, to question it and to stretch the possibilities.
Speaking personally, I believe I have much to offer in the workplace but that my inability to colour inside the lines, to tick the boxes excludes me from a creative flow which could add value and revenue to a business willing to take that step with me.
Yes, my ideas are sometimes a little leftfield but leftfield is sometimes a refreshing alternative to the mundane claptrap we are force fed each day through the mass media.
There was a song that came out a few years ago called ‘always wear sunscreen’ one of the lines said “some of the most interesting people still don’t know what they want to be when they reach 40!”
I’m 40 next year and I think I might have just about got an idea of what I want to do for a career. I’ve gained lots of experience along the way, I’ve done things that I enjoy but I don’t think I’ve ever really found that “something” that ticks all the boxes. Something that allows me to be me and to demonstrate my creativity in a fluid manner which fully exploits my skills and abilities.
In the realm of the workplace there are essential and desirable criteria that we all have to try to meet and fulfil in order to tick the boxes to get THAT job.
Working in the finance sector we are required to read through pages and pages and pages of regulations each year. This feels very much like a box ticking exercise so that nobody can sue us! But what benefit is there in just ticking the boxes?
If your preconceived ideas of what makes a perfect partner were all fulfilled in your Life Partner on Day 1, wouldn’t life get a little bit boring 2 – 3 years down the line when everything just became totally predictable and rational, normal?!
Isn’t the fun of being in a relationship, not knowing exactly what the people are going to do and having different perspectives and opinions about things, approaching things differently?
Equally, when it comes to finding the right candidate for a job, if all you’re looking for is someone to replace the person who left, because they were so perfect, then aren’t you just going to stay where you are? Aren’t you as a business just going to be consistent but not advancing? Not going forward or progressing in your strategy, your brand, your marketing and your vision?
Surely, having someone new coming in, with a new perspective, with new ideas and new experiences is preferable to the “box ticker” who fulfilled the qualifications but doesn’t really know how to talk to people?!!
It is important, whether it be in a relationship or when recruiting a new candidate for a vacancy to allow someone to be themselves; to allow a creative flow and organic development of a role. To give opportunity for that person and their character to mould that role into their own. Sometimes, to achieve progress we need to be brave and colour outside the lines.