The Importance of Imagination in Creating Change

Image by Alexandr Ivanov from Pixabay

“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”

Albert Einstein

Humans will never fly. Television is just a fad. Who would ever need a computer in their home, much less carry one around wherever they go? Some people have trouble picturing a different future. Imagination allows you to see changes that others cannot. It can also help to forge a path to those changes.

So many of the topics that I have written about here illustrate the importance of imagination. Having an imagination is essential. Imagination helps turn ideas into actions. It is a key to problem solving. You have to be able to imagine a solution to a problem you are trying to solve.

The ability for any group of people in search of a better quality of life, to create a shared vision of what changes they will have to work toward, requires imagination. Maintaining the hope, or the expectation that your shared vision is possible requires that you be able to imagine a better world. When you ask someone to keep their “eyes on the prize,” you are reminding them to imagine that improved life.

One way to discover creative strategies and solutions is to seek out creative people. Who is creating art in your community? Who is managing to do great work with seemingly very few assets? The most imaginative people may not be in your usual circle of acquaintances. You may have to look at the margins. Find the people who are otherwise invisible. Find these imaginative people and listen to what they have to offer. As George Bernard Shaw put it, “Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will.” (For more on creativity and leadership see, “Traditional Versus Creative Leadership.”)

If imagination is so important, why is it then that so many people say that they don’t really have much imagination? This isn’t a problem with children. Kids will frequently remind you of their capacity to imagine. They also often turn that imagination into creative works. Many adults, however, apparently lose their imagination mojo.

In the 1940s an advertising executive named Alex Osborn (He’s the guy who coined the term, ‘brainstorming’), recognized that this lack of adult imagination was a problem, so he came up with something he called, “creative problem solving.” The idea is that imagination can be cultivated and nurtured. You can read more about it here.

I have written previously that the world is not simply made up of two groups: your allies, and those opposed to your ideas. A great number of people are simply unaware that your issue is even a problem. The need to attract attention to the change that you are trying to create requires imagination. With all the ideas competing for our attention, imaginative, fresh messages stand a better chance of being heard.

More Resources

The Importance Of Imagination – Tao de Haas
6 Proven Benefits of Being More Imaginative – Mental Floss
This is how to harness the power of human imagination for social change – World Economic Forum

Author: johnhamerlinck

I am a writer, and a reader, speaker, consultant, and trainer with a fascination about how social change happens. I live in Minnesota, USA. Medium - https://medium.com/@HamerlinckJ

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