22 Sep You’ve Forgotten What It Takes To Be Successful
On the way to work this morning, my 5 year old and I noticed the road we drive each day on the way to school is been widened. Why? Why Indeed? I explained the reason is us humans aren’t very good at using the roads we’ve already got. We leave too much space between the cars, we make silly routing decisions etc. I then introduced the idea of the self-driving car. His eyes widened and his mind started whirring.
After a few clarifying questions, my boy said, “In the future we’ll be driven around by cabbage computers that have arms and you, me and mama can sit in the back reading books.” Crazy kid talk right? Wrong. The imagination that just dreamt up cabbage computers with arms is the same imagination that will one day change the world.
I get to hang out with the kid’s in my boy’s class everyday and the freedom of imagination totally blows me away. Their minds are free of the fears and realities that limit what the majority of us adults have come to accept is possible. Adults often dismiss the “out-there” ideas of kids and we fail to see the value in what’s really going.
You need to look past the obvious to get to the good stuff. It’s the process of free creative thinking, the mechanics of imagination that allows kids to dream the un-dreamable. Us “big kids” need to pay attention. Our kids have a gift most of us have lost and so desperately need back.
In our increasingly complex world, many of us are stuck. We find change hard and are fearful of the increasing uncertainty. I’m increasingly passionate about resilient thinking and just how vital it is to thriving in our hyper-connected world. Imagination is one of the key building blocks for resilient thinking and I’ll tell you why.
7 Benefits of Imagination
- Imagination = Freedom of thought; a requisite for discovering new possibilities
- Imagination = Zero to One thinking; it enables us to dream up new, never-thought-possible solutions that change the world
- Imagination = Detachment; exploring new possibilities without being attached to outcomes, results, KPIs stretches what we are prepared to see is possible
- Imagination = Free; it costs nothing to stop and create something new in our minds
- Imagination = Fun; we spend so much time constraining and limiting our thinking. Our brains are like monkeys, they want to jump, swing and play. De-stress and let the mind loose
- Imagination = Change; we can experience new possibilities in full colour before we take the first step in bringing them to life. Experience change before it happens and feel that it’s not so scary
- Imagination = Vision; in-order to change the world we have to be able to see, feel and describe the future. Imagination let’s us time travel.
So the next time your kid says something imaginative, stop and marvel what’s actually going on. In that moment, their minds are doing what our minds are most capable of doing, what machines don’t and may never come close to doing. Creating original thought. Creating and experiencing something new.
Imagination unlocks some of the most important attributes of resilient thinking. The biggest obstacle to transformative change is our inability to do change, be comfortable with change. We need to rediscover our imaginations.
Imagination Is A Practice
Like our bodies, our imaginations need exercise. Kids imaginations are so lucid because they practice and exercise it every minute of every day. So how do you get started?
Start With Kids/Friends – Kids are pros so learn from the pros. Kids won’t judge you for silly ideas or things you say. An imagination work out with your kids not only builds great relationship with your kids, shows them that you and therefore the world values imagination but gives you the training wheels for your own practice. If you don’t have kids, find a friend who you trust and feel free and comfortable around, pick a topic to explore and go for it.
5 Step Personal Practice
Start Slow – Start with 1 minute once per day. Don’t be too ambitious and don’t take it too seriously. This is meant to be fun and playful. Like a muscle that hasn’t been worked out for a while, go easy on your imagination and let it build strength over time. Increase the length of your sessions as your desire grows. I spend 30 mins today in imagination land.
Do it when you have energy – Before you run out of mental gas in your long day, try to spend at least 10 minutes imagining. Go for a walk, find a quiet space, whatever. Switch off your phone. Imagination is like a kind of meditation – most highly successful people have some kind of meditation practice – so start with an imagination practice.
Focus your imagination on something/topic – It’s fine to let the mind wander, but have some sort of intention, focus, or topic to start with. Start with your passion or something you’re interested in. Let you mind freely explore the idea, making connections and drawing conclusions however it feels. Everything is possible in imagination land. The only rule is total and complete freedom to explore your something/topic.
Try to stick with your topic – Allow your mind to wander away, then to wander back. This is common part of any mindfulness or meditation technique. This will help you get the most out of your imagination practice and help you remember some of the golden nuggets you find along the way.
Take a moment – When you’re done, take a moment to sit with the feeling, the experience. Our memory of our imagination experiences needs to migrate from our short-term memory into our brain proper. By taking a moment to sit with the feeling from your experience – 20-30 secs – it will help you integrate it so the benefits are long lasting and continue to give long after you’ve finished.
Journal – If you want to capture any observations or outcomes from your sessions, jot down a few notes/draw pictures in a notebook.
Don’t immediately try and explain your experience to others – Let your experience sink in. Using words or having someone else opinion enter your memory whilst your experiences are still too fresh can dilute the benefits.
Reflect – As your imagination practice grows, spend some time thinking about what your imaginary visions are telling you. Do research if it makes sense. Reflect on your notes and your memories. Replay your vision and thoughts about it to a good friend.
Warning To Adults
We do a lot to kill the imagination in our kids. Do you’re kids a favour and don’t.
Encourage it more than you encourage maths, reading and writing. The thing is maths, reading and writing and the information and knowledge they give us access to, are technical skills that are easily learned. However without imagination, our next generation won’t have the necessary framework for creative thinking. They won’t have the sharp and lucid imagination required to bring all the information and knowledge they have access to, to life new and exciting ways.
Imagination is the enabler. Imagination builds resilience. Resilience is what we need to thrive in and overcome the challenges of our complex world.