Doing things differently: how drawing with crayons taught me a valuable lesson

Look closely at the image above.

Do you know what it is? Is it sophisticated modern art? Is it one of those pictures that suddenly looks different when you stare at it for several seconds. Or is it just a bit of a mess?


I don’t know. Perhaps I should, because I drew it earlier this week. Frankly though, I don’t really care what it is. That’s because what the image represents to me is the importance of doing things differently, wherever, whenever and however we can.

The artwork generated generated by myself and around 30 friends in a session at the 10Eighty Associates Away Day came in a great session on Mindfulness and Art from Anne-Laure Carruth. She asked us to take the opportunity to look around us and draw whatever we wanted, really taking our time to take in the details that we too often take for granted; then to draw with our weaker hand; and then to copy an image just drawn, but with our eyes closed.

And so it went on, We were encouraged to experiment, to do things differently and play around with crayons, charcoal and pencils as we wished. Allowing myself the space for experimentation gave me time and space to develop my own insights. Three things occurred to me as we drew:-

  1. How little we stop and look at the things right in front of us. With the exception of our phones, how often do we stop and look twice at everyday objects, the buildings we pass every day – or even those we claim to hold dear?
  2. When we do something routinely, how often do we think about doing it in a different way? I was shocked at how drawing the same object left-handed and with my eyes closed generated results of a similar standard to my original effort, with a little practice – I’d always been told to do things with my “proper” right hand. We are so often told we can’t do things well if we do it “that way”, but how can we know if we don’t allow ourselves the time to find out?
  3. And how often do we actually do things differently on an everyday basis? Whenever we do, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that we discover so many new, unexpected and beneficial outcomes that we hadn’t previously even thought about.

So whether you turn to the crayons, walk a different way to work or try out that new restaurant – I urge you to go and do something – anything – differently today. And every day from now on. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

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