Last evening I played a great game of checkers in the sky. The jet contrails in the brilliant blue air above North Georgia provided an immense board upon which the men in my mind could make their way strategically toward the kings row and then onwards toward victory. While nature did its best to distract me from my enterprise as it celebrated the early days of spring, I imagined my way from beginning to end. Unfortunately, I was vanquished by my formidable opponent!
Imagination is a powerful, but far too often under-employed, tool. It makes confinement feel spacious. It transforms the apparently impossible into the eminently do-able. Any great invention in history was born of a mixture of knowledge and invention. The wheel. The steam engine. The United States of America. The telephone. The internet. All the result of knowledge plus a healthy dose of imagination.
That said, it is easy to lose imagination in the mad pursuit of knowledge. There must be an oscillation. Get yourself too focused in one or the other and you will fail. Live exclusively in the world of imagination and you will earn yourself a straight jacket. Dwell solely in the domain of knowledge and you will become a pig, desperately poking your snout in the dirt in search of the next truffle.
If our imagination has grown rusty from disuse over time, fear not, there are ways to get it flowing again. Here are a few ways to help get the wheels of imagination turning:
1. Brainstorm solutions to some problem you face, either alone or with others involved. Take care not to judge any of the ideas as they come out. Record them and analyze later.
2. Be willing to go beyond logic on occasion. Logic is linear. Imagination is boundless and amorphous. Make space for both sides of your brain to get the exercise they need. Think of the “wild ideas” as well as the tame ones. Don’t be ashamed of or afraid to think creatively, in fact, take pride in it!
3. Thinking involves bearing down on a problem. Imagination involves letting up on a problem. Practice the ability to shift from intense focus to complete abandon when problem-solving. Be serious when you need to but don’t forget to lighten up when you don’t need to. Again, the oscillation is key.
Have a great day! Fill it with limitless big thinking and laser-like attention to detail. Condition the knowledge you have at your command with imagination. Bring the creative spark that only you can bring, no matter how mundane, repetitive or seemingly meaningless the task at hand may be.
7 thoughts on “Imagination, Knowledge and You”
I think the key here is to think BIG and be able to have that laser-light focusand attention to detail as well. So many people tend to say that they or either one or the other. I love that word “oscillation” as well, and will use this post as a reminder that indeed, I can be both. The balance of the two will be what allows the true “creative” and “imaginative” ideas to actually be brought into practical application. This is a great consideration for the entrepreneurs in all of us!
I’m going to bring this post to my next department meeting. Great insight for a creative team.
Yes, that word, oscillation, that’s the key here – a really good point – to nurture the balance of our mental faculties, because it does seem that the wild imaginings of youth slowly gives way to the linear thinking of adulthood. Does it have to be just one or the other? I have to admit that some of the stress I experience is simply because I have been caught too far in one mode, I suppose, giving the ‘thinking’ part of me too much real estate over the course of the day. That’s a refreshing thought! Could ‘stress’ be just that?
Albert Einstein said “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” For new things to be created we do have to ‘oscillate’ beyond the frontiers of what we know into the realms of what we may not know but what is out there to be discovered. How exciting to be part of a living, breathing creative process!
great quote! (& love his creative hair style 🙂 )
Thanks for the cue about oscillation – it is a good sensory description! I’ll remember to check throughout the day, or throughout any given process, that there is in fact a balance of the “bearing down” and the “letting up” necessary to move beyond the mundane (or the insane, depending on which side the imbalance may lean more towards!).
It’s good to see that the ability to be creative and the ability to focus are neither mutually exclusive nor totally the result of genetics. People forget that you can consciously learn and practice these traits, and to see a person that can do both of these things is rare. To learn to employ “laser-like focus” or “wild creativity” where required is one of the big keys to success in life. Thanks for the reminder that there is always room for improvement here.