In my town nestled in Michigan’s Ausable River Valley, we are in the last few days of fall colors. Last week was the peak in colors, but now there is still a large minority of leaves on the trees.
It seems rare that even a minority of people show their true colors. Most of the time, it’s quite hard to find anyone in daily life who is willing to stick their neck out and be authentic.
Most of the time, we all dress in similar shades of green. Or on signal, we all go minimalist and eliminate color altogether.
What would happen if more of us ventured to reveal our true colors, like the trees here do for at least a few weeks each fall? Hello, I’m an excitable, yellow Aspen. You’re an intense, red maple. He’s a muted, stodgy Oak. She’s a white Pine (one of the few who really is green all the time). What can we create together?
Authenticity often looks and mixes differently.
My wife Erin and youngest daughter Betsy took several days to pursue one of Erin’s long-time dreams, a fall-colors tour of Vermont and some other New England states. She found that panorama of peak colors there had a different effect than the Michigan colors. In Michigan, a landscape gives you the impression of a patchwork quilt … swatches of color, where groupings of trees seem to match in color. The Vermont landscape gave her the impression of, well, an impressionist painting. Rather than swatches of color, she saw dots of color. The Vermont trees don’t want to be Twinkies, so they won’t stand next to someone dressed the same.
When a leader is willing to show his or her true colors, it gives others on the team the freedom to show their true colors too. To share their crazy ideas that just might happen to be the next big thing. To reveal what they’re really thinking, which is exactly what your clients think but haven’t told you. To point out a problem that could suggest a solution that will score big in the marketplace.
Your team needs — the world needs — to see your true colors. What colors are you currently hiding?