Back to Basics: Crayons & LEGOs ease anxiety

Back to Basics: Crayons & LEGOs ease anxiety

While I don’t necessarily agree with the cliche “Everything you need to know you learn in Kindergarten,” I will say that one of the most valuable skills I learned in Kindergarten that I still use today – at least weekly – is…coloring!

Get back to basics: Color & build to reduce stress

Yes, the above masterpieces I completed just this past weekend while waiting for our restaurant order. Not that I didn’t enjoy the conversation at the table, but I’ve found that having something to do with my hands — whether it’s coloring, manipulating LEGOs, tearing pieces of napkin into confetti — helps me organize my thoughts, and ease general anxiety ( which tends to never go away completely as a founder/CEO).

I’ve also observed when running meetings and/or brainstorming sessions, setting out manipulatives on the table – particularly if they are colorful LEGO bricks – lightens the mood, and eases overall tension. LEGO Serious Play, which I’ve learned from Robert Rasmussen, takes this concept to a successful business model where the LEGO bricks actually become the centerpiece of conversation and help balance idea flow within a room of corporate executives.

While there is extensive research out there supporting how creating with your hands brings a new dimension to thoughts, creativity, and conversation, for me personally, the top 3 reasons below highlight why sitting down with some crayons or LEGOs is often the only relaxing moment of my day:

Immediate Results
Particularly when it comes to coloring, in my world of so many unknowns, it’s refreshing and comforting to know that I can carefully select a few crayons and color within pre-drawn lines to achieve a beautiful picture within a predictable and defined time. I would say that statement is the antithesis of a startup.

Low Stakes Decision Making
While there are certainly colors that don’t go well together, it’s really hard to mess up a colored drawing or LEGO creation. Case in point, my good friend Dr. Ethan Danahy’s favorite group activity to run is the ‘ol “Build a LEGO Duck” where every person in the room is given a handful of preselected yellow and red pieces and asked to build a duck. No matter how you put the pieces together, every single person’s duck does – in fact – look like a duck. Even if you color outside the lines, you can call the drawing “abstract” or “modern art” (although I NEVER color outside the lines…)

I’ve observed time and time again the smiles that immediately spread across peoples’ faces when they either walk into a room with a table of LEGO pieces or watch me snatch the children’s [coloring] menu from the hostess. There’s an emotional connection to color and elements from our childhood that we can’t help but smile. Even the sternest of faces cannot repress smiling eyes.

So, the next time you run your board meeting and have to reveal decreasing revenues, throw some LEGO bricks on the table before the meeting…

Or…for your next blind date, pick a restaurant that’s sure to have a kids coloring menu.


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