[This is the fifth in a series discussing the causes of leadership failure presented by Napoleon Hill]
It’s a brave new world, one that’s constantly changing. New laws, emerging technologies, and changing workforce demands require careful but rapid evaluation and bold yet measured implementation of new policies and procedures to guide our steps. A decade or two ago, no one thought about implementing social media policies or devising cyber security measures. Today, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Now we have technical innovations that fairly boggle the mind, and a bevy of ethical questions surrounding them. Without the faculty of imagination, it’s impossible for a leader to survive. What exactly is imagination, and why is it’s lack a cause of failure for today’s leaders?
Imagination and You
Wikipedia defines imagination as, “The ability to form new images and sensations that are not perceived through sight, hearing, or other senses. Imagination helps make knowledge applicable in solving problems and is fundamental to integrating experience and the learning process…. It is a whole cycle of image formation or any sensation which may be described as ‘hidden’ as it takes place without anyone else’s knowledge.” Dictionary.com defines it this way: “The faculty of imagining, or of forming mental images or concepts of what is not actually present to the senses.” It also adds that it is the “ability to face and resolve difficulties; resourcefulness.”
Essentially, imagination is that faculty that allows you to see the unseen. In a practical sense, this allows innovation, such as the development of aircraft, the light bulb, and the telephone. At one point, those things only existed in the imagination of their creators. Now they’re as common as breathing. However, imagination isn’t just for creating new inventions. It’s also at the heart of devising new solutions. As mentioned above, it allows you to take your existing knowledge base and apply it creatively in solving new and intriguing problems. That may mean devising new programs to address situations that suddenly arise, like the social media policies mentioned above. In a world where we seem to redefine “status quo” daily, your ability to use imagination to keep in step with those changes is critical.
The issue goes deeper, however. David Byrd discusses the use of imagination in his Next Level Achievement System®, and makes this profound statement: “The use of the gift of imagination is the key to life’s direction, purpose, and power.” So, beyond just having the ability to devise innovative solutions to problems, effective use of the faculty of imagination is the key to everything we hope to achieve in life. No wonder this is a cause of leadership failure!
Can we develop our powers of imagination, especially as they apply in a business setting? If so, how?
Developing our Imagination
Remez Sasson wrote an article discussing the power of imagination. He discusses both the proper use and misuse of our inner vision. For this discussion, we won’t focus on misusing our faculty of imagination as much as not using it. Mr. Sasson notes that no one is without imagination. Rather, people tend to have a poorly developed one. Thankfully, that’s something we can correct. After providing everyday examples of imagination in action (like cooking, decorating, or thinking of past and/or future activities), Mr. Sasson gives some great advice on strengthening our inner vision.
- Set aside 15 minutes a day and imagine something you know you can achieve, like sharing a special occasion with someone you love.
- Imagine it in detail; not just images, but sounds, smells, and feelings. Involve all five senses. Granted, you may find it difficult at first to use all senses in the exercise, but eventually you’ll get better.
- One caveat: Your mind may start to verbalize what you’re experiencing. Don’t allow it to replace imagery with words; the focus is on developing your imagination, not your prose. Read the article for more details.
Napoleon Hill spoke extensively about the power of imagination and how it assisted him in Think and Grow Rich. In the chapter entitled “The Sixth Sense,” he talks about an advisory cabinet consisting of the nine men he admired most: Emerson, Paine, Edison, Darwin, Lincoln, Burbank, Napoleon, Ford and Carnegie. Since the majority were already dead, he held meeting with them in his imagination. After a while, an interesting thing occurred. They took on distinct personalities, and he found himself having free-flowing conversations with them. “Those are the actions of a crazy man!” some might say. Yet they helped him achieve great success and inspire greatness in others. So maybe, in order to accomplish our goals, we all need to “get a little crazy,” as Seal sang.
Be an Imaginative Leader!
There’s no debate: Imagination is a necessity for the successful leader. If you’ve already developed this faculty, then put it to good use. If you need to beef up your inner vision, then get to work on developing your imagination. One thing is certain: With the challenges we face in our world, we can’t afford any lack in the imagination department if we hope to succeed as leaders!
How would you rate your ability to use imagination? What are some success stories and/or cautionary tales regarding this important faculty you have? Please share them in the Comments below.
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- Imagine and Mature Wealthy by Napoleon Hill – Just as He Wrote It in 1973 (isfi17i1.wordpress.com)
- Just Imagine If – Kids & Creativity (roomtogrow.co.uk)
- The Mystery of the Imagination (dust2diamonds.wordpress.com)
- Soulfood…The Mind: Man’s Best Gift (nataliesombo.wordpress.com)