The Day the Crayons Quit - Innolect, Inc.

The Day the Crayons Quit

With Groundhog Day just behind us, many leaders and their teams feel as if they’re starring repeatedly in the movie, Groundhog Day. With the hope of a healthier, brighter 2021, we find ourselves living a rerun of 2020. Individuals and teams still suffer from COVID-19 fatigue: struggling with staying at home and missing face-to-face interactions. Leaders, many of whom are experiencing similar feelings themselves, are looking for ways to help teams find purpose, renewed energy and a break from the routine.

In our recent book, Ignite Your Imagination: 21 Ways to Learn, one learning application invites readers to check out children’s books. Their messages are simple; they’re a quick read (generally less than 15 minutes) and often filled with insightful, charming and profound lessons. One book, especially appropriate for these challenging times, is The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt. Each page is a letter from a different colored crayon, expressing its concerns. As described on the book jacket, “Beige is tired of playing second fiddle to Brown. Blue needs a break from coloring all that water, while Pink just wants to be used. Green has no complaints, but Orange and Yellow are no longer speaking to each other,” due to their disagreement about the “true” color of the sun.

One of our coaching clients, who happens to have three young children, read the book and immediately drew parallels to his role as a leader. Before the holidays, he read this book to his team as a fun, virtual team experience—and used the book to tie the crayon’s feelings to the feelings of his employees. He asked, “Are you tired like Grey, or maybe feeling pigeonholed like Pink?” The book opened the door for a fun, honest exchange about capacity, burnout and preferences.

As leaders, we invite you to try something different with your teams. Stay alert to and look for learning opportunities and themes in a variety of places. In addition to books, consider:

💡Television and movies clips you might play from YouTube (Learning #13 of our 21 Ways to Learn book).
💡Music and how the lyrics of a favorite song might connect to what you and your team are experiencing these days.
💡Poetry and quotations — If you haven’t read or watched Amanda Gorman’s Inaugural poem, “The Hill We Climb,” we encourage you to share from it as an invitation to see differently.

As we wrote in our last post: Words are powerful. Used intentionally, they can open minds and hearts, inspire high performance, and create a foundation of trust.

Since we learn from each other, we’re wondering what are your favorite children’s books and why. Send your titles and insights to We’d love to hear from you and will offer a composite list as a future free download on our website.

To whet your appetite, here are a few of our favorites:

📗 Jon J. Muth’s book, The Three Questions (based on a story by Leo Tolstoy), or his equally insightful book, Zen Shorts. These books are marketed as “thought-provoking meditations” and teach the importance of compassion and living in the moment.
📗 Istvan Banyai’s book, Zoom, we have used for over 15 years. It has no words, but visually demonstrates the power of perspective-taking and looking for a second, third or fourth right answer.
📗 Harold and the Purple Crayon, by Crockett Johnson, inspires readers to transform imagination into reality.
📗 Judith Viorst’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day conveys the importance of maintaining a resilient mindset, even when everything seems to be going wrong.

We look forward to exploring your favorites!

Becky Ripley
Sustainable Legacies and Excursion Learning Practice Leader