If you think about these and all the great discoveries and inventions that have changed the world, you would realise that they all began with someone’s imagination. No one actually knew such things could exist until someone dreamt about them and worked towards making them a reality.
So, you see, knowledge is useful only if you can imagine what all you can do with it. No doubt that the next step is to gather all the possible knowledge, but the first step is to imagine the possibilities. Most of the scientists, entrepreneurs and artists vouch for imagination and creativity as the basis for their great work.
Albert Einstein famously 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.”
It is difficult to argue this statement, not just because it was said by a genius, but also because it’s true. It is the imagination and creativity that has been the driving the engine of our civilization. That said, knowledge and wisdom have helped man transform his imagination into reality. Once you have a vision of what you want to create, you need to acquire knowledge, dig into your experiences and seek the existing wisdom to make it happen.
Entrepreneurs are often referred to as creators because they are in the business of creating and innovating so it’s almost a necessity for you to be imaginative. Unless you can imagine a new solution to an existing problem, you cannot really thrive. In fact, imagination is the first step to entrepreneurship. And just like how kids can be nurtured to become artists or athletes or scientists, you can train yourself to be more imaginative. Many people fail to recognise this first step when they set off to become an entrepreneur and face roadblocks midway in their journey. Knowledge of market, competitors, customers can only take you so far, but it takes imagination to do something more inimitable and disruptive.
As I said before, we cannot discount the importance of knowledge, and more so, of wisdom. When knowledge, experience and common sense come together, it becomes wisdom. Unfortunately, knowledge and wisdom are often used interchangeably but you need to understand that knowledge is a part of wisdom. For example, any one with the knowledge of market can identify the potential markets in your industry but it takes wisdom to go after the right one. Wisdom gives you the power to make right judgement at the right time. While you can gather knowledge through education, reading and even googling, wisdom comes from gathering experiences.
Wisdom is the bridge between imagination and reality. So, the debate is not really of imagination and creativity vs knowledge and wisdom, it is how you can bring all these four elements together to create something that adds value and helps you in solving a real problem.
In today’s digital age, there is no dearth of ways to seek knowledge. In fact, we are constantly bombarded with information and facts which has moved us further away from imagination and creativity. We feel that reading more articles or keeping yourself updated with tweets or taking up online courses will help us achieve all are goals. But, clearly, that’s not true. If you wish to develop wonderful things and transform the way you live, you need to widen your vision and imagination. Good news is that if you feel that you are not creative enough or lack imagination, there are ways in which you can develop it.
To be able to imagine new possibilities, you need to start by questioning the existing ones. You need to ask why anything is being done the way it is being done. Curiosity is the single most important trait of creative and imaginative people. Questioning opens up doors for innumerable likelihoods and gradually from asking “why”, you start thinking in terms of “what-if”. Right there, in “what-ifs” lies limitless possibilities to imagine somethings that have never been thought of before.
Also, take your own offering, whatever it is that you are building, into consideration and ask questions like – what if I changed the design or the model, what if this product was still to be used after 10 years, what if I received 2 million in investment. These questions would set your mind free from the limited thinking that you have adopted and let you imagine new things for your own business.
#Have thought-provoking conversations
Having stimulating conversations with other people is a great way to unleash your creativity. When I say stimulating conversation, you really need to think out of the box. So, next time you meet your friends or family, indulge them in such discussions rather than spending time watching TV or just chit chatting.
Don’t hesitate to discuss wacky situations related to different fields like politics, history, science or anything that you and your friends are into-
– What would happen if the earth stops rotating
– If America was not a democracy, how would things be
– What would animals say if they could talk
It may seem crazy at first but when you get into these discussions, you would really start imagining things that do not exist. If you do it on regular basis then it is a sure shot way to improve your creativity. Your mind and sub-conscious start getting trained in thinking differently and without limits.
#Get involved in a creative process
Most of the time, as entrepreneurs, you are involved in taking care of operations or building strategies or something else, but you are always busy. Your mind is so involved with everyday activities that there is no space for creative ideas. Creativity and imagination cannot be achieved in haste and they need to be nurtured. So, you need to make it a point to get involved in activities which literally involve creating something. You could consider one of the activities from following list or add some of your own-
All these activities require you to actually create something using your own thoughts and imagination. You may feel that they are not directly related your work, but they are great at training your brain to be more open and creative. Brain doesn’t isolate activities from each other, so it is natural that creativity that you acquire doing these activities will spill over into your work.
Our lifestyles have become so fast and stressed out that we have absolutely no time to stand and observe our surroundings. And in that, we are missing out not only on joy of living, but also on a great chance to stimulate our senses and creativity.
Develop a habit to pause down and cut your regular stream of thoughts. This will make you more attentive to what’s happening around you and to your amazement, you will see things that you never thought existed. Observe strangers, colleagues, children, nature, hawkers and not just superficially but in details. Generally, in our day-today lives, we look at everything but never observe them. You will be surprised at how observing small things can inspire you and train your brain to become more detail oriented.
Creativity is not superficial and that’s the reason you need to develop this habit of being detail-oriented. Observation is the easiest way to get inspiration from your own surrounding and see things which others fail to see.
#Learn about people who transcended boundaries
Get into the minds of people who have been able to imagine the unimaginable and turn them into reality. If you can understand how Einstein developed the theory of relativity or how Steve Jobs created iPod or how Christopher Nolan came up with Inception, it would give you some insights into how you can accomplish things like these too.
Apart from the famous personalities, you may find many such creative people around you. You should try to know them better and understand how they think. If they are someone you know then you can obviously interact with them directly. Otherwise, you should try to read as many biographies as possible or watch documentaries made on the lives of these great visionaries.
Sometimes, all we need is a little motivation to break free from our limited thoughts and explore the limitless possibilities.
Get into the habit of imagining! Yes, people may think that you are foolish in doing so but people are not always right. Imagine the things you want to do, the places you want to see and the person you want to be. All great things were once just someone’s thoughts or ideas.
Most of us used to be quite imaginative as children but as we grow up we lose that habit. We start to think in more “practical” terms and that’s where we start losing the power of imagination. People start telling us that day dreaming is a bad thing and we believe them. Well, that’s not true.
The bottom line is that that you already understand the importance of knowledge and wisdom, but imagination is like the unsung hero. Knowledge can help you accomplish many things, but imagination and creativity will help you accomplish great things. So, it’s time that you develop your creativity and imagination, if not more, then as much as you are focussed on gathering knowledge, skills and information.