[The I in ATTITUDE]
ATTITUDE – Authentic, Tenacious, Teachable, Imaginative, Tolerant, Uplifting, Decisive, Energizing
Dream big, visualize your success, and see it in your mind’s eye. John Shin
One of the greatest survival skills you can develop is your imagination.
Your personal growth and the quality of your life depend heavily on your willingness to change and your ability to be imaginative while creating solutions for daily challenges. Some adults say their imaginative abilities are not what they were when they were children. Do you feel children are more creative and imaginative than adults? I don’t. We’re just rusty. So, let’s work on sparking your child-like powers of imagination to benefit the adult you.
Expanding Reference Library
Adults have a major advantage over children when it comes to imagination—an expanding reference library between our ears. We have more life experience and inputs from various sources. More perspectives and frames of reference. More hands-on, firsthand, in-the-moment life experience, providing almost endless options and perspectives we can draw upon during any creative process.
A great way to be imaginative using your ever-expanding reference library is to visualize, seeing things in your mind’s eye. Spend a few quiet moments visualizing potential solutions to a problem or imagine a successful outcome with upcoming events or challenges.
To get the visualization process started, grab a piece of paper and create a mind map. Here’s how:
- Map your ideas quickly (don’t ponder too long)
- Write the central idea or topic you want to map
- Circle it
- Spend one minute writing every thought and idea that comes to mind (no editing)
- If you find another main idea in your map of thoughts, circle it and map it too (branch out or start a new map)
Laugh at Yourself
Have you ever felt anxious or worried? Who hasn’t, right? Perhaps you’ve lain awake at night, your mind racing about the potential outcome of a future event, creating fantastic scenarios about things that haven’t happened. Sometimes, the details are so vivid and dramatic, that they border on the outlandish.
You can channel this type of unproductive worrying by using your overly active imagination as a tool to reduce stress and worry. Challenge your brain to give you the most outlandish scenarios, and then laugh at yourself. Ask your brain, “Is that the best you can do?” Share your worries with a creative partner and try to outdo each other in terms of outrageousness. Be silly. Create fantastic stories that go way over the top and laugh at them together. This exercise is healthy on several fronts and will take your mind off your worries (even while you’re still thinking of them; your brain will like this).
Visualize Your Story
Speaking of stories, creating stories is an effective way to use your imagination and exercise your creativity because spinning yarns forces you to be more specific and expand the details.
Picture your subject, and then consider it in relation to all five senses—sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. As you work through this process, your picture becomes more vivid and clear. Once you have worked through the details, practice delivering your story to other people. The more detail you provide, the clearer the story and details will be in the minds of your audience and your own. Everybody wins!
Fun and Games
Exercise your storytelling ability with your friends and family by picking a topic and going around the table at dinner or around the room during a social gathering. You kick it off, then pass the story to the next person who then adds a piece, then the next, and on down the line. This is an effective brainstorming technique and a way to develop your ability to dream big by inviting other people to provide their input and unique perspectives. A good way to start is by saying, “One day…” When you’re ready to pass the story to the next person, say, “When suddenly…” You’ll be amazed at the stories and ideas that come from such lighthearted story-telling sessions.
This is a fun game to play with your children, but it works for business too. Try it the next time you must strategize. Make the goal to come up with the most outrageous ideas possible. Be inspired by Google, who encourages their employees to work 20% of the time on their passion projects, most of which were born during brainstorming sessions where no idea was too crazy, and nothing was off limits or controlled by management. This process gave us Gmail and Google Maps.
To recap, here are some effective ways to spark your imagination:
- Actively visualize your ideas as positive outcomes to challenges and events.
- Use a mind map to kick-start the visualization process.
- Examine your worries and expand them to the point of ridiculousness.
- Practice telling stories utilizing all five senses.
- Allow yourself a set amount of time to visualize ideas, where nothing is off-limits. Go wild and see what happens.