The Power of Play: Why Coloring Outside the Lines is Essential for Leaders

Play is not just for children—I believe it’s vital to a healthy and fulfilling adult life, especially as a business leader. As the saying goes, sometimes we need to color outside the lines and see what happens.

Have you ever observed a young child picking up a crayon and creating art? The sheer excitement and energy they bring to the paper is truly captivating. Their joy is evident in the way they scribble, their imaginative designs, and their bold and unexpected color choices.

When they are young and carefree, even the boundaries of a coloring book cannot contain the creativity of a child. Despite our best efforts to encourage them to stay within the lines and follow the rules, they are hardwired to color outside the lines. And it’s a beautiful thing to witness. Their creativity flows spontaneously as they explore their imagination and experiment with new ideas without even realizing it.

Watching a child color is a reminder of the pure joy and freedom that comes with uninhibited self-expression. It is a lesson for business leaders in pushing boundaries, exploring new ideas, and improvising without any inhibitions.


As we grow older, many of us lose touch with the joy and spontaneity of play. Our lives become more structured, and responsibilities take over, leaving little room for exploration and creativity. However, play is not just for children—I believe it’s vital to a healthy and fulfilling adult life, especially as a business leader. As the saying goes, sometimes we need to color outside the lines and see what happens.

So, what does play look like for leaders? It can take many forms, from trying a new hobby or sport to simply letting loose outside of work, being silly, and laughing with friends. Whatever form it takes, play can allow you to tap into your imagination, experiment with new ideas, and break free from your everyday routine.

One example of someone who has embraced play in their adult life is author and entrepreneur Tim Ferriss. Ferriss is known for his unconventional approach to work and productivity, and he often attributes his success to his willingness to experiment and play. In his book The 4-Hour Work Week, Ferriss advocates for taking mini-retirements and pursuing hobbies and interests outside of work, including martial arts, learning languages, and cooking. By doing so, he says, we can break out of the monotony of our routines and tap into our creativity and potential.

Another example of the power of play can be found in improv comedy. Improv requires participants to let go of their inhibitions and take risks, often resulting in unexpected and hilarious moments. While improv may seem like a frivolous activity, it actually teaches valuable skills such as active listening, collaboration, spontaneity, and creativity. As a result, many businesses have begun incorporating improv workshops into their team-building activities as a way to foster innovation and collaboration among employees.


Ultimately, the importance of play as a business leader comes down to its ability to foster growth and fulfillment. By allowing yourself the freedom to explore and experiment, you can open yourself up to new experiences and perspectives in your life and career. For example, when you travel to a new destination, you are often confronted with unfamiliar sights, sounds, and cultures. You may be challenged to navigate new environments, communicate in a different language, or try new foods. This can lead to personal and professional breakthroughs that you may have never thought possible.

So, the next time you feel stuck or uninspired, consider incorporating some play into your life, whether it’s trying a new hobby, simply letting loose, being silly with friends, or whatever form of coloring outside the lines you prefer. You may be surprised by the transformative power of play.

Tony Martignetti, Chief Inspiration Officer at Inspired Purpose Coaching, advises leaders who want to lead with purpose and feel fulfilled.

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