Innovation is born in imagination. Rather than falling back on the excuse that something can’t be done, what if you asked yourself, “Why can’t this be done?” That is the possibility mindset: using imagination to break through the limits of what you think is possible.
Entrepreneurs are inspired by ideas, but they are frequently compelled to ground their ideas in reality. For instance, in their pitch decks, they are strongly advised to spell out the problem they are solving or to build a minimum viable product. While this mentality may appear to be grounded and sensible, it can be uninspiring and unimaginative. In fact, when you are trying to solve a problem at the highest level, you often have to put reality on hold to go to that part of your brain that manufactures ideas. When you do, you turn down the voice of reason in your brain, and you turn up the volume of possibility.
To do this, you can ask yourself five questions so that the voice of reason does not drown out your voice of possibility. I suggest you revisit these questions whenever reality is stalling your brain:
1. What can I imagine?
When you confine yourself to reality, you limit your understanding to what you perceive. Imagination is the road out of the restrictions of reality.
When you are stuck, imagination can help your brain determine your next action. Aside from optimism promoting well-being, imagination is where the brain manufactures new ideas, and it can help you recall older ideas, too.
Ask yourself, “What can I imagine this doing?” When you do, you will imagine people having instant insights, your being in demand because of these insights, and your saving time and money and infusing your life and others’ lives with purpose. With this rooted in your imagination, you have created a blueprint that all else will have to follow.
2. What would make this a better solution than anything that preceded it?
When you imagine a solution, you want it to be an improvement over anything that came before it. Believing that something can be better requires a growth mindset, which will motivate your brain to search for something that is not yet a reality.
For instance, Elon Musk’s Hyperloop was inspired because he wanted to build a transportation system better than any in existence. Regardless of what business you were building, ask, “What would make this significantly better than anything in existence currently?”
3. What would make this perfect?
Once you have started the journey toward “What would make this better?”, you can raise the bar even further to “What would make this perfect?”
We tend to stay away from the word “perfect” because of the negative connotations of perfectionism. However, if you avoid this question, you also prevent yourself from seeing an ideal. Perfectionism is often strained and obsessive. However, idealism can be harmonious, and when it is, it promotes your brain’s ability to attend and even plan.
Idealism includes such ideas as compassion, commitment, integrity, altruism, profits, and integrity. When you commit to idealism, you embrace paradoxes such as profits and altruism, and as a result, you will find a solution that serves all stakeholders, including business owners and customers. For that reason, ask yourself, “What would make my business ideal?”
4. What would make me feel like I am flourishing?
Often, the simplest things make us feel like we are thriving, but we leave this out of our lives. When you flourish, you feel like you are growing beyond your former limits, and every minute you invest in your business gives you far more than you would have expected.
There are five domains in which you are doing well when you are flourishing. These are meaning and purpose; happiness and life satisfaction; mental and physical health; character and virtue; and close social relationships. So ask, “Am I flourishing in all these ways in my business and life?”
5. What if there were no limits?
Because we are often limited in life, we think and live within these limits. However, imagination, novelty, idealism, and flourishing cannot be achieved if we think only within our limits.
The “what if” nature of possibility requires that we ask, “What if there were no limits?” It’s at the basis of why people watch the Hallmark Channel or thrillers: They want to believe in a world with no limits.
People who have invented remarkable things have had to suspend the idea of limits for a while. Dreaming is one of the brain’s ways of planning. So ask yourself, “What if there were no limits?”
Set aside a half hour today and answer these five questions. When you do, you’ll see that the possibility mindset is worth engaging in a world where “reality” is the obstruction to an entrepreneur’s fulfillment.