Saturday, August 04, 2007

What colour is your sky?

The teacher was discussing the various colours with her class. Included in the lesson were images of crayons, the rainbow, and various multi-faceted landscapes. She then asked her pupils the eternal question, "What colour is the sky?" Hands shot up all over the classroom. All of the students were eager to answer the question, and with the obvious predictable response.

One student in the back, staring out of the window, did not put up her hand. Naturally, she was called upon to answer the question, as it was suspected that she wasn't paying attention to the teacher's words.

"What colour is the sky?"

The student thought about her answer for a few moments, amidst a sea of giggles and very audible whispers. She continued to look out of the window, and to formulate a statement. After a few seconds, the response arrived.

"The sky is every colour. It is many shades of blue, but it's grey when there is a storm on the way. It can be red and orange and yellow when the sun rises and sets. It even turned green, just before the tornado destroyed our neighbour's house. At night, the sky is black, with polka dot stars. The sky can be every colour we want it to be, and every colour it needs to be."

The teacher looked shocked, at the rather unconventional answer, to what was thought to be the simplest of questions. The pupil was correct, of course. The sky is many different colours, and indeed can be any shade we can imagine. Unlike the canned and obvious idea of one blue colour fits all, the real world is much more complicated. It's also many levels more interesting.

When you are faced with a question that appears to have an obvious, and very conventional answer, that should be a signal to look much deeper. The issues involved may be many layered, and more complex than seen at first blush. Truly creative ideas arise when the obvious is seen from a different perspective. Things are rarely as simple as they seem at first glance.

Think like the pupil, who found every colour imaginable, when truly seeing the sky. The more ways you can think of when viewing a problem, means infinitely more solutions can be discovered and applied. The obvious answer of "blue" might work sometimes. You might see the vivid reds, yellows, and oranges of the sunset open before your very eyes. The seemingly obvious blue sky solution definitely won't work, amidst the multitude of grey tones, when it rains.

Always seek the less obvious answer when seeking to solve a problem.

What colour is your sky?

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