A few years ago, I made a presentation at an entrepreneurial workshop. Among other things, my task was to help the participants see possibilities that had erstwhile eluded them. So, I decided to engage them in a little exercise. I gave them the following instructions: “I want you to close your eyes and imagine the story I’m about to tell you. If at any point you find the story unrealistic or stupid, open your eyes.” Of course they agreed to the “Simple” activity.
I said, “Imagine you are riding a bicycle down a familiar street. You are waving at friends and acquaintances. Suddenly, you find yourself riding at the top of trees, and then you find yourself riding on the water in a swimming pool. Now you can stop riding and open your eyes”. Guess how many people still had their eyes closed by the end of my story? You got that right! Very few! As can be expected, some of the participants opened their eyes when I mentioned cycling because they had never cycled. Quite a number of them understandably opened their eyes when I got to the part of riding at the top of trees. However, by the time I got to the part of riding on the water, almost all the eyes were staring at me as though I had gone insane. I’m sure you are also wondering how I came up with the “silly” story.
My purpose was to find out how many of the participants were inhibited in their minds. Think of this. How much does it cost to dream or imagine? Nothing right? They couldn’t have been injured by riding a bicycle for the first time in their minds could they? Since they controlled the pictures in their minds, they could ride a bicycle on water and not drown couldn’t they? Why then do people find it so difficult to dream or use their imagination? According to Albert Einstein, “I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world”. Imagination is our only connection between where we are and where we want to be. If we cannot travel in our minds, we will never take a step in reality.
When I coordinated that activity at the workshop, I identified three categories of people:
- Those without imagination: ok, technically, there is no one without an imagination but there are people who would rather die than use it. I noticed that some people didn’t close their eyes at all. I guess they thought the activity was childish. Perhaps that is where children are better than adults; they are willing to live in a world of fantasy. Every great achievement was first an imagination.
- Those whose realities controlled their dreams: according to Dr. David Oyedepo, “Whatever is too big for your mind is too big for your hand”. I noticed that some people were willing to dream for as long as it was “safe”. Most people have a “safe zone” in their minds and would not venture beyond it. For instance, if you were to tell a security guard to imagine himself as a millionaire, he might quickly dismiss the idea by saying “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride”. Whereas, great dream can turn a person’s life around.
- Those who dreamt freely: at the workshop, I still found a few people who were willing to dream no matter how stupid it seemed. It was Pablo Picasso who said “Everything you can imagine is real”. Einstein also said, “Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere”. Only those who have dared to imagine the unimaginable have done the seeming impossible.