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How many colours do you see?

How many colours do you see?

My Dad left my brother and I with many legacies and gifts, but we remember him most for his approach to life, he had a way of seeing the richness in the world around him, and the greater gift of being able to share that richness.

He was a brilliant artist and wasn’t content to describe colours simplistically, he gave us a vocabulary which included the delights of vermillion, ochre, burnt sienna, raw umber, cobalt blue.

He mixed and applied these colours and we have a vibrant collection of paintings as a constant reminder of him.

He shared these colours and hues patiently with my daughters, even as small children they would mix and paint and colour wash, and now sometimes just the way the sky looks reminds them of their grandpa and time spent with him creating beautiful watercolours.

He brought the same broad and patient view to his approach to people, and not only was able to see the variety and richness of his fellow humans but had the brilliant capacity of capturing them with a few pencil strokes.

We have a whole library of sketch-pads with his quick pencil drawings of variously shaped people, in various locations but they are all vibrant, packed with fun, energy and life.

Unfortunately, I can’t draw but I can bring one of his memorable lessons from his sketching to my work with business, and that is, that he spent twice as much time watching as he spent drawing.

Is it time to observe, or is it time to draw?

Is it time to listen, or is it time to talk?

My Dad brought me up also to love and appreciate books, and so last week finding myself with an hour between appointments in London I went to the British Library seeking inspiration, I was drawn to a book with an “ochre” cover I am now on my third reading of “We should all be feminists” (1)

This isn’t just about feminism, it’s about trying to harness the diversity of the human race and create a better future.

It’s about changing the status quo and not accepting “normal”

If we do something over and over again, it becomes normal. If we see the same thing over and over again, it becomes normal.

We are used to seeing men as leaders as bosses, it’s normal, but now the way we work needs to change, we need to build innovative and creative cultures to enable us to compete and be more productive.

We need to give more freedom to a more diverse workforce we need to look less “normal”.

I try to live my life as my dad lived his, open to every opportunity to improve and learn, and able to look at the world through a variety of lenses.

I try to look at people and understand all their nuances and individual traits and I hope in a small way through my work in training and mentoring to support people in business by listening and encouraging them to develop their own talents and those of their employees.

If we listen more, and see more, and give more freedom to a more diverse workforce, we can hopefully create innovative cultures producing extra-ordinary products and services and we should then all be able to lead better, more colourful lives.

Thanks Dad.

(1) Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Fourth Estate 2014

If we listen more, and see more, and give more freedom to a more diverse workforce, we can hopefully create innovative cultures producing extra-ordinary products and services and we should then all be able to lead better, more colourful lives.