A castle in the middle of a magic kingdom. A package delivered from Los Angeles to New York, overnight. A single click to buy products online and have them arrive at your house. Imagination turned into reality.
Walt Disney, FedEx, Amazon. Ideas that seemed outlandish at the time, yet now are woven into reality and our lives. New ideas and new ways of seeing things can be much simpler than these, yet have enormous impact on our daily lives. Millions of great ideas are being created every day to make simple improvements to products and services.
Here are three ways that you can use your imagination to a fuller potential:
1. Get Comfortable with Your Imagination
Perhaps the biggest impediment to our imagination is simply being comfortable using it. You have a wonderful imagination. Realizing that we each are creative with our unique way of seeing things is a big breakthrough. Once we know that we too can see an image of the future, we can begin to proceed toward it. That is what imagination is; seeing an image of something in our mind, drawing it on paper or writing it down and then making it become reality. Well, making it become reality may be more than imagination itself, but it is part of the true power of imagination.
Take out a blank sheet of paper and draw out how you want something to be in the future. It could be a process at work that is frustrating. Take an hour and go off by yourself. Think about how it could be in the future. Certainly there are all sorts of reasons that it may be hard to accomplish, but do not let that stop you from at least imagining it as you want it to be. That is the wonderful thing about your imagination. It is not limited by how things are today. Practice doing this, even if everything you dream up does not come to life right away. Just practice and over time you will get comfortable using your imagination.
2. Routine Creativity
It is a myth that creativity comes on its own schedule and usually on a whim. I have found that successful teams and individuals practice imagination. Our imagination, or creative ability, is like a muscle. We all have one, but it needs to be used regularly to be the most effective. I have also found that muscles get as much benefit from stretching as they do from flexing. Meaning, we can routinely flex our creative ability as well as stretch it.
For me, stretching my imagination comes when I get around a group of people who think big. You can also stretch your imagination by reading about people who have done big things. Expanding what you think is possible is a key step to getting your imagination into gear and allowing yourself to draw out something new on a blank sheet of paper.
3. Stick with it
Here comes the secret sauce. As obvious as it sounds, sticking with your idea is more than half of the equation in success. I have heard that what you do with a new idea in the first 24 hours after having the idea is more important than the idea itself. That may not be entirely true for really big ideas, but the concept is sound. Taking action on your ideas is so powerful. Even taking small steps to start the ball rolling on your idea can make a huge difference.
This is why writing down your ideas or drawing them out visually is so important. If you have something to refer back to, it helps as you take steps toward implementing your idea. I believe that some folks do not want to write down their ideas so if they do not come true, they will not have to stare at the failure. I guess that is a strategy to avoid feeling bad, but it is also a strategy for not allowing your imagination to fully function and create wonderful new products, processes and everyday improvements in our lives. I would rather risk having ten ideas in my journal that never happened for one great idea that did.
To recap, you do have a wonderful imagination. Take some time to see an image of something new or better in the future. As you get comfortable using your imagination, you will begin to see your writings and drawings come to life. It is a fun process and is greatly beneficial to all who you work with and to you personally.