Eileen Kern

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Purple is the New Green

I caught this lovely article today from Frank Eliason on LinkedIn: Being Different: When is Green Purple?”

We can learn so much from the children around us, as I did the other day from my daughter Robyn. The other day Robyn had a kindergarten assignment that included coloring a sheet based on her “words of the week.” One of the words was the color green. To my surprise she used pink and purple to color the page. When asked why she chose these colors instead of green, she responded “everyone will color it green; I want to be different.” This is not the first time she has done this, nor will it be the last and I am glad.

The article in full is about courage and creativity–and being different–in the workplace, and I recommend giving it a read.

Eliason’s stories remind me of this moment from when I was younger: Once, in preschool, I was coloring a landscape of a sunny day. But I colored the sun blue.
My father had recently told me about the different colors stars can be, including blue. It would be a more thematic story if I could say that I was imagining a landscape on a different world with a blue sun, but I think I just misunderstood a little bit what he meant. After all, if I looked at the sun a little long (though never too long–I had been taught not to!), it started to look like it was lots of weird colors; I think I thought that the sun was really blue, and if you looked at it too long it would actually look blue.

I think there is something to be said for encouraging each other not to fear mistakes or risks. Perhaps the decision to color the word green in pink and purple is a risk (whereas my decision to color the sun blue could be termed both a risk and, perhaps, a mistake). In my education program, I learned that people learn best when they’re engaging in real thinking and taking on work that matters. Sometimes that involves sidetracking toward solutions that don’t work, or trying new ideas that haven’t been tested yet. If we all played it safe, how would we justify our result as something that matters?