I read a quote from Hugh MacLeod on GapingVoid.com, where he said,

“Everyone is born creative, everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten.”

I agree. Yet somewhere along the way, most of us seem to lose that creative spark.

Who’s to blame?

Do we blame schools and education? Do we blame our parents? Our Teachers? Society itself?

Eventually, most of us were told to put the crayons down. In kindergarten, we were given the crayons and told to be creative and express ourselves. They said, “colour outside the lines, it’s perfectly acceptable!” They shouted, “be free young one, and express your creativity!”


A few years later we were told that crayons were childish, and we were big kids now. Big kids don’t play with crayons.

We were told that going outside the lines wasn’t acceptable anymore. Big boys and big girls stay inside the lines.

Then things got a little nuts. We were told to put our heads down, shut the hell up, and study hard for the next twenty-some years.

We were told that the only route to security and happiness in life was to stay inside the lines. We were told we had to follow the status quo.

And what else did the status quo say?

  • It said that understanding the difference between a stratified sample and a random sample was more important than creative expression.
  • It said that knowing the difference between a parallelogram, trapezoid, and rhombus, was worth six weeks of our lives.

I’ve been out of school for a while now, and I’m still waiting for the moment either of those skills are required.

Were we tricked?

This was the start of it.

When we were told it was no longer acceptable to colour outside the lines, the indoctrination had already begun. Conforming meant staying inside the lines.

Smart kids; good kids; well-behaved kids, coloured inside the lines.
Smart kids became robots.

Today, the most successful people I know are the ones who could never colour inside the lines.

The thing I’m starting to realize is this, it wasn’t because they were too dumb or not smart enough, it was because they were already challenging the system.

The power of the “staying inside the lines” metaphor and the impact it’s having on all of our lives is huge! We’re only starting to see the ramifications of it now.

The system is no longer rewarding the people who stayed inside the lines and shut-up without a fight. Instead, the system is backfiring! We’re seeing our friends lose their jobs and being laid off. We’re seeing people lose their pensions, (the one promise of security and safety for years of colouring within the lines).

It’s a pretty grim situation, especially if you’ve stayed inside the lines your whole life.

However, there is good news for all of us! “It’s never too late to pick up a box of crayons.”