Who Turned Off Our Imagination At Work?
Once upon a time when you didn’t need an extra shot of espresso in the morning to make your work commute less stressful and you had less wrinkles and grey hairs, there was a kid who knew how to make a boring tedious day at school or even a weekend great. Creativity and curiosity were like your heart beat, pounding out questions and ideas that seemed relevant to your imaginative mind. This person still exists inside of each of us. But somewhere in the journey from childhood to adulthood our sense of wonder begins to diminish and that’s not just an opinion, that’s cold hard fact. Ever heard of Ellis Paul Torrance? He tested the creativity of individuals and their intelligence level overtime. His work postured that your threshold for intelligence was directly correlated to your threshold of creativity.
As a trainer and consultant I am asked regularly how to practically implement creativity into a workflow. But instead of giving an answer right away I test their willingness to be vulnerable with their imagination. Our perspective has the power to create cognitive harmony or dissonance with our choices. If I say I’m open to being more creative and internally I’m not it normally comes out when you’re asked to commit to an act that “feels” ridiculous. In a group setting I love to implement what I call strategic Improv, where a group and an audience work together to build 1-minute stories. If I’m in a one on one session I will ask the person some random goofy question that has no right or wrong answer such as “What super hero would you be and if you could add one extra power what would it be? From there I ask them how did you acquire this extra super power? You would be surprised how creative some stories truly get.
This approach may seem weird but your imagination combined with being committed and really present causes you to shake off judgment. In its place is an environment where you can exchange fluid ideas and build what literally seems like something extraordinary out of nothing. I am a firm believer that facts can be altered if we want them to. And I hope you feel the same when I say that there is a place for our imaginations at work. I have spent the last 2 years working with leaders through workshops and think tanks on how to reengage their creativity. Here are a 3 ways that can reboot your imagination if you let it:
1. Mess up your Journal- write a short story about an object like an orange, or try to log your daily events through the eyes of an 80 year old. (I mean how interesting would you be if someone someday discovered this bazaar journal)
2. Take a Hike- find a park or trail, and shoot for the cool of the evening, nature is God’s creative catalyst and is full of humor and wonder, which is the best combo for imagination.
3. Mistakenly get a Pet- if you want the challenge of all challenges to your imagination and creativity, coexist with another species. If the commitment is too much offer to babysit for a friend for at least a week. Imagination takes emotions and ironically animals conjure up the full gamut.
My challenge to the kid in you is to take one thing over the next 21 days and look at it through new lenses. If you hate reading find a book club or try a different outlet like audiobooks. Maybe you’re terrible at working new technology, then find one new tool and give yourself the grace to learn it over a 21day period. The goal is to not give up and to be open to seeing things differently. When you were a kid if your sword aka stick broke you didn’t stop the battle you kept on and created a new weapon out of what you had. One of my favorite quotes says, “Do once what others say you can’t do, and you will never listen to them again.” I refuse to believe you and I have diminished in our ability to imagine. Let’s rewrite history and reimagine ourselves as truly capable. Open up your hearts with me and lets believe once again that if we want to be better and do better we can and we will, even if it takes 21 days or more, our best creative self is worth it. The secret is no one turned off our imagination; it has been waiting in each of us to be relit. So fire it up. Keep Going. Keep Believing. Keep Imagining.
Dedicated to my 15-year-old super talented and full of imagination little cousin Noah Corea aka the super hero Thor whose extra super power is making wishes come true. May you always hold on to your creative beautiful soul.