Alongside the pallet of business texts I could easily recommend is a more colorful stack of children’s books. Why kiddie lit? For starters, consider these instructional characteristics of the genre:
- Brevity. Ideas don’t have to be wrapped in complex, long-winded verbiage to be powerful or compelling.
- Illustration. A few words and a great graphic is the golden ticket.
- Cadence. Just a few minutes attending to the rhythm of your writing can elevate the tedious to transcendent.
- Metaphor. Tapping into well-known frameworks is a shortcut that makes communication faster and stickier.
Plus, why spend hours digesting the latest business best-seller, when a few minutes with a tyke’s classic will deliver a critical consulting lesson? Below are four of my favorites, along with an insight I gleaned from each:
Harold and the Purple Crayon, Crockett Johnson
|You create your own reality.|
|Consultants frequently struggle with lapses in confidence. Harold teaches us that even the scary and unpleasant aspects of being an independent consultant are a product of our imaginations.|
|If you choose to apply your purple crayon differently, you can reframe rejection and other terrors and draw a delightful, satisfying business.|
The Blind Men and an Elephant, John Godfrey Saxe, Paul Galdone
|Observation is critical, and insufficient.|
|Some popular authors exhort consultants to base all their recommendations on direct observation. However, what we see with our own two eyes may not be the whole truth nor, in the larger picture, even directionally correct.|
|The best consultants seek input and insights from others. As Werner Heisenberg wisely noted, “We have to remember that what we observe is not nature in itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning.”
Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak
|Become fabulous at your area of focus and stay true to it.|
|Independent consultants, ever nervous about their unreliable flow of new business, easily succumb to the urge to be everything to everyone. When prospects signal that no contract is forthcoming, consultants scramble to change their offering.|
|The monsters in Sendak’s tale never fall prey to this danger. ** They excel at being noisy beasts and snacking on people is their forte. Thus, faced with Max’s departure, they don’t alter their core promise. Instead they cry, “Oh, please don’t go—we’ll eat you up—we love you so.”|
Charlotte’s Web, E. B White
|Consulting is about giving.|
|Granted, this is not a short picture book; however, White’s novel for youngsters reminds us that in the constant pursuit of clients and revenue growth, the fundamental goodness of consulting can slip away unnoticed. Charlotte finds meaning not by advertising her own cleverness, but by saving Wilbur’s bacon.|
|We, like Charlotte, are in a giving profession. The essence of most business pitches: I will build something good for me, and you can come along for the ride. Contrast that to consultants’ offerings: We’ll help you build something good for you, and as a result we’ll benefit.|
There were, of course, many, many other books that could have made the list. What is a children’s book you would recommend for consultants, and why?
Text and images are © 2023 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.