October 12, 2014 / UNCOMMON
October 12, 2014
Imagine you’ve invented a groundbreaking technology—you’re a computer game designer, a scientist, a celebrated major league baseball player in the World Series or an Olympian. As children most of us pondered on such ideas, we hoped and determined that nothing is impossible and we believed that we could achieve the unthinkable. But somewhere along the way we stopped imagining, wondering… and in the process ceased to dream and instead began to look at the world through a waning lens. The eyes of others sometimes mean more than they should, and our conviction to change the world dwindles away. Imagine what could be achieved even now if we were to go back in time and recapture our early dreams—a time when everything seemed possible. Sadly most of us have forgotten our childhood dreams. Somewhere along the way we assumed that they were not attainable or lost the excitement and the energy to be creative. But, for a lucky few, those early dreams are still alive.
There is still time, imagination leads to innovation and transforms lives
Imagination is crucial to success at the personal and professional level. Anyone can be creative as long as time is devoted to visualizing your ideas. Self-reflection can reveal the confidence needed to evoke new creative ideas and develop more effective leadership skills. Today, companies are seeking people who are agile and able to transform their organizations through open, innovative thinking.
Forward-thinking is crucial for businesses to stay growth-focused and remain competitive, so leaders must be creative design-thinkers and possess the confidence to encourage and empower others to bring about change. The ability to influence others is a strong character trait that the business and philanthropic world need. Contagious, imaginative leaders organically inspire others to collaborate and share ideas, ignoring barriers and carrying out ideas across departments and clients segments. Innovation and transformation are all buzz words we hear about in most corporate strategic presentations but they are also rapidly becoming part of the new language of leadership.
The ability to dream and innovate does not stop when one leaves the workplace. People also have personal aspirations to attain that are not so public. Looking back on your life, some dreams may have come true while some haven’t and you spend time wondering What if I had done this or that? For others at retirement age, it may be finding more time to finally try what has been dormant for so long like going back to school to complete a degree, spending time to learn a new language, seeing the world in a year, doing charitable work in an inner city, going to a foreign country as a missionary or regaining time with a friend, spouse or child. It’s never too late to achieve your person dreams. As Norman Vincent Peale said in his book The Power of Positive Thinking, “Formulate and stamp indelibly on your mind a mental picture of yourself succeeding. Hold this picture tenaciously. Never permit it to fade. Your mind will seek to develop the picture… Do not build up obstacles in your imagination.”
You’re not an onion, reach your potentialLet’s imagine for a moment the experience one goes through to peel through the layers of an onion. I love onions, they’re great vegetables that have existed for centuries, come in various shapes, colors and sizes and have many medicinal properties. Similar to the layers that form the covering of an onion during its lengthy growth stages, we too accumulate experiences in our lives that over time shape who we are today. Much like onion crops have to compete with weeds, humans have to weed through life events and experiences that impede achievements. However, unlike this transformative vegetable, our personal layers can be shed, allowing us to reclaim who we are truly designed to be. We are built to do the impossible––as a baby in order to walk we needed to take our first steps, and when we fell we received help and kept trying until walking became a reality. Our childhood curiosity about the world and its surroundings is still possible. Go ahead and take a moment to be inspired once again, get away from the noise to awaken your enthusiasm and think back to a time when each new day was full of the promise of new adventures, when summers were long and filled with fun, when friends were always close by, and when you saw the world in our own unique way.
Corporate leaders require a plan and the same is true for achieving personal goals. Be prepared to make adjustments as needed, to imagine again and execute your childhood dreams. Help others achieve their goals, and during the process self-discovery will occur. But, know that it will take time so don’t give up—who knows, your latent dreams may spark the change that the world is in need of just about now.