When you think about it, everything that physically exists today was first born as an idea in someone’s imagination. Someone, and that someone could be you, had an idea and as you continued to think about it, you did the things that ultimately brought it to fruition.
Take for example, you decide you want to own your own company. As you think about it, you come up with a concept of what it could be. The more data and information you collect, the more real you make it. At some point, it transitions from an idea into something tangible as you develop a logo, look for investors, lease a building and other various activities, until the point in time you open the doors.
Children are great at using their imaginations. If you ever talk to a four-year-old who has an imaginary friend, they will describe that person or thing, with incredible amounts of detail. They will tell you what they are wearing, what they are doing and what they think about things. For them, that imaginary friend will be every bit as real, as what you are.
So how does this apply to you as a leader?
Your success as a leader comes down to how well you use your imagination. We hear about leaders having vision but in fact what they have is, really great imaginations. They resist getting caught up in the way things are today and instead choose to build a picture in their mind of how things could be. Instead of seeing their employees as they are today, they understand that everyone has the ability to be greater than even they themselves might realize. They hold a bigger picture for them and their capabilities. Instead of seeing only the customers they serve today, they look to see who else they can serve.
The skill of imagination is in fact that…a skill. If you never practice it, you will never fully develop it. It is to get caught up in being realistic and to use logic, but those skills generally keep you in a box. Can you imagine what our worlds would be like, without the internet? There was a day when someone said, "what if" we could connect the world. Or what about not having running water? Again, someone dared to say "what if" and likely everyone around them thought they were crazy, but this is really the home of amazing things.
Here is the neat thing. Even if you haven’t used it in a long while, it is still there and it is like riding a bike. The more you allow yourself to use it, the more creative you will become. You will see far less problems and see more solutions. You will start to see different possibilities and opportunities and it will allow you to gain a different perspective of your organization.
As I said, the more you use it, the easier it will be to access it. At the same time, the more you dare to dream, the clearer your thoughts and ideas will be around what is possible. The next big step will be in having the courage to speak your imagination. What if things weren’t the way they are today? What if your group could take on a daring challenge and you were the one to propose it?
Your employees like to be engaged and there is nothing better than being engaged in something big. You will be surprised at how they will rise to the challenge, if you do…dare to imagine!!!