It is hard to pinpoint qualities that are absolutely indispensable to people trying to make through their lives or to companies that want to thrive because, once the context change, everything else changes with it. However, there is a skill in which I would bet all my coins if I had to pick only one and take my chances with it: imagination.
Imagination plays an important role in people’s lives, but instead of arguing using my own voice I will ask permission to borrow J. K. Rowling’s words:
“I have learned to value imagination in a much broader sense. Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathise with humans whose experiences we have never shared”
If she extols the value of imagination, who am I to disagree? She alone formed a generation of readers, turning extreme hardship into strength to follow what was truly important to her.
To foster new ideas, we need to embrace imagination. It is quite common to hear about innovation as a goal, but it is neither that nor an end in itself. Innovation is part of every small task we do in our daily lives, it is more about making a compromise, to try new things and see problems from other perspectives. Innovation is rather a mindset than a master plan to follow.
We are all born artists and develop our creativity during childhood, but at some point, for no apparent reason, we are forced to stop thinking about making things up, to go and “do something useful”. Just take a peek at the most successful companies you know and ask yourself this question: would they be what they are if they didn’t invest in new ideas? Think about Google, Amazon and Facebook, just to name a few. Imagination is at the core of their business, and because they are not afraid to try new things, they are who they are.
There is a haunting question that hovers around this subject, though. If innovation is so good, why isn’t everyone doing it? The answer to this lies in the very core of human nature: the fear of failure. We are afraid of being judged, of being seen as a failure. On her speech, in Harvard, J. K. Rowling also addressed this issue:
“You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all — in which case, you fail by default.”
You can only achieve greatness if you stop doing what everyone else is doing and start doing things your way. Try new ideas, new approaches, new things. Give leaps of faith. It is essential in all aspects of your life, from love relationships to how you make money. The only thing you need is to decide to start, we already have all that it takes to innovate: our own, creative minds.