Learning to Color

Josh Linkner
May 29, 2022

Josh Linkner

Five-time tech entrepreneur, hyper-growth CEO, NY Times bestselling author and venture capitalist.

Fact: Creativity has become the most needed skill in business. It's gone from a nice-to-have to becoming mission-critical.

Fact: Creativity is a learnable skill. All humans have enormous creative potential and can unlock a reservoir of dormant capacity.

Fact: Most of us don't feel all that creative. Most of us have radically underdeveloped inventive thinking and creative problem-solving skills, largely suppressed by fear.

With these facts in mind, why don't more of us unleash our full creative potential? Why don't we let our imagination soar with reckless abandon? Why do we restrict our sense of wonder and possibility? Songwriter Harry Chapin answers these questions far better than I could with the lyrics to his 1978 masterpiece:

Flowers Are Red, by Harry Chapin

The little boy went first day of school
He got some crayons and started to draw
He put colors all over the paper
For colors was what he saw
And the teacher said.. What you doin' young man

I'm paintin' flowers he said
She said It's not the time for art young man
And anyway flowers are green and red
There's a time for everything young man
And a way it should be done
You've got to show concern for everyone else
For you're not the only one

And she said
Flowers are red young man
Green leaves are green
There's no need to see flowers any other way
Than they way they always have been seen

But the little boy said
There are so many colors in the rainbow
So many colors in the morning sun
So many colors in the flower and I see every one

Well the teacher said.. You're sassy
There's ways that things should be
And you'll paint flowers the way they are
So repeat after me ..

And she said
Flowers are red young man
Green leaves are green
There's no need to see flowers any other way
Than they way they always have been seen

But the little boy said
There are so many colors in the rainbow
So many colors in the morning sun
So many colors in the flower and I see every one

The teacher put him in a corner
She said.. It's for your own good..
And you won't come out 'til you get it right
And all responding like you should
Well finally he got lonely
Frightened thoughts filled his head
And he went up to the teacher
And this is what he said.. and he said

Flowers are red, green leaves are green
There's no need to see flowers any other way
Than the way they always have been seen

Time went by like it always does
And they moved to another town
And the little boy went to another school
And this is what he found
The teacher there was smilin'
She said Painting should be fun
And there are so many colors in a flower
So let's use every one

But that little boy painted flowers
In neat rows of green and red
And when the teacher asked him why
This is what he said.. and he said

Flowers are red, green leaves are green
There's no need to see flowers any other way
Than the way they always have been seen.
--

It happens thousands of times a day, and not just to kids. When will we stop shaming each other into following straight lines? When will we realize it is our responsibility to encourage divergent thinking? When will we teach each other that if you follow the rules, think there's only one "right" answer, and avoid mistakes at all costs, we're simply resigning ourselves to mediocrity?

It’s finally time to unshackle our imagination and let our creativity come out to play. What color are your flowers?

The post Learning to Color appeared first on Josh Linkner.

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