Last week I referred to this year as being a blank canvas and the luxury of having 365 blank pages we could colour in. On one of those pages, if you chose to use it to focus on you, what colour would you use to define who you are? And are you willing to choose a colour that stands out?
Would you be a bright orange, bold red, tranquil blue or vibrant green? How about a soft pink, an earthy brown, strong black or a blend of multi colours?
The chances are that you wouldn’t say ‘beige’. In fact, I’d put money on it. Beige is just so, well, meh! Apologies to those who like the colour beige and who perhaps wear it well but beige is pretty non-descript and bland.
Beige is the colour that comes to mind when I ask people ‘how are you?’ and they reply with ‘busy’. They’re either crazy busy, frantic, too busy to scratch myself or just plain flat out. Being ‘busy’ has become the socially accepted and expected response to a greeting. And when you respond that way you just start to blend into the pack of everyone else that’s claiming ‘busy’ as his or her mantra.
In today’s hyper-connected online world, we need to stand out. We need to attract attention, to be colourful and easily identifiable through masses of other information and noise out there. Quite frankly, busy is beige and boring!
When we get caught in the vortex of busy, when we’re running to keep up with everything else that’s happening out there around us, we become beige as a leader.
Being trapped in busy and allowing busy to control you doesn’t allow you to think strategically, to come up with new ideas or lead your team in a fresh direction, it means you become boring with a capital B.
Influential leaders we admire refuse to be busy – they refuse to be beige. They ensure they are spending their valuable time on strategic thinking and proactive actions, thinking ahead, while also doing what it takes to keep the business going in the present moment. They think about what’s happening and wonder ‘how can I do better?’ rather than ‘how can I survive?’
Look at Richard Branson. Most of us would attribute the colour red to him, not just because of his Virgin brand but because he is bold, dynamic, loves taking risks and acts courageously. His charismatic style and child-like curiosity commands our attention. Contrast this with Nelson Mandela. Often described as a champion of peace, he stands for freedom, integrity and social justice. I would attribute the colour green to him, or even white. He was a peace keeper and worked tirelessly to ensure the people around him experienced a better life – even at the cost of his own life.
Both of these leaders refuse to conform to beige. They challenge life and leadership and make things happen. They are colourful characters who take action, make a difference and create powerful legacies for those around them. They challenge the status quo.
So what colour do you choose to be this year? I advise staying away from beige…there’ll be plenty of others who choose that colour. Your challenge is to stand out and the crowd. And my tip is, it won’t be too hard to do!