Harold vs. Lio? Make Your Bets!
Just see what Lio does with Harold’s purple crayon! Both are, by the way, being deeply authentic, according to their characters, interests, values and goals! But look at the difference!
Harold, from Crockett Johnsonʻs famous and delightful children’s book, Harold and the Purple Crayon, uses his imagination and his magical purple crayon to draw a dragon to protect the apples in the tree he created.
It’s a great idea, but unfortunately, he’s scared by the dragon and his hand holding the crayon shakes, so he almost drowns in the ripply water he creates, and has to create a boat — only one of the many adventures he has before he draws himself home and into his bed.
Still, no one’s harmed, least of all Harold, who, if he’d been a little older would have known how to make the dragon smart as well as fierce, kind as well as protective. I have to believe that…
But then there’s Lio, the marvelous, dastardly, wicked, surreal comic character by Mark Tatulli. See what he does with Harold’s crayon….
Maybe they deserve it, but still….
It’s hard to imagine Lio growing up to be any more altruistic than he already isn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I love him — he offers solace to giant squids and zombies, and applauds the spidery art of weaving webs and catching flies. He’s a genius! And his Dad loves him, sees the best and the worst and keeps his cool — usually. But still, he’s a dangerous boy.
So what do children’s comics have to do with leadership?
I know, I know, it may seem like a stretch. But youʻve probably made your own conclusions…
This is what I believe: we each have a purple crayon of our own — our imaginations. And as leaders, the way we exercise that powerful tool depends on how healthy we are as leaders, for ourselves and others. I would prefer to have a president who is more like Harold than Lio. (Sorry, Lio! I love you!)
Itʻs a case of Servant Leadership vs. Mad Scientist Leadership (if there is such a thing — oh, wait — we do have an atomic bomb and nowhere to go….)
Anyway, when Iʻm mentoring, teaching or offering my services in the world, I think most people would prefer to see my Harold side. (I keep my Lio genius fit and happy in my creative writing! To everything there is a reason and purpose!)
How about you? Where does your leadership whimsy take you? How can you channel Harold and use the best of Lio without destroying your world? What kind of leadership imagination do we need to weather the changes and challenges we face today?
What would you do with a purple crayon?