Leadership Takes Imagination

April 4, 2017

By Brian Reich, Author The Imagination Gap

As individuals, as organizations, as leaders, we must find new ways to embrace the changes that are happening in the world and the impact they are  having on our work, our perspectives, and our behaviors. The timing couldn’t be better.  Despite the rise in political polarization, we are witnessing a public that is more engaged than ever before, and more capable of collecting and sharing information with a wider audience than at any point in our history. This is driving greater interest in media, business, culture – and especially politics and public affairs.  We are at the beginning of a shift that will redefine every aspect of our society.

Here’s the catch — we don’t get to decide whether we want a new society. The changes underway can’t be rolled back, nor can they be contained.  But we do get to decide what kind of society we want to live in, what types of solutions we want to pursue, and how we want to function as individuals and as leaders.  That’s a lot of power.  Typically we prioritize issues that seem pressing now and give little to no thought to the long-term future.  Instead, we should consider this an invitation to think really big and far into the future – to put our imagination to work and come up with totally new and radically different concepts for the kind of world we want to create.

This is where imagination comes into play.  Anything we can dream up, or decide to create, can go on the list. There is no judge or special counsel who decides whether an idea qualifies as new enough or exciting enough, so we have no excuse to go beyond what we can currently comprehend.  We should use and apply our imagination to conceive of a future that is better than what we know in the present.

Sure, there are a limited number of hours in the day, and a limited number of dollars.  We don’t even know what expertise we will need to draw upon, or if that expertise is even currently available to pursue an idea that we haven’t yet considered.  But none of those practical issues should limit imagination.

In an era of too many demands and too much information, it can seem foolish, or wasteful, to think of more and bigger ideas. It’s not.  That’s exactly what our imagination is for, and why it’s so important we apply our imagination at every possible opportunity.  We don’t know what the future will require, or offer, and we should think about everything we might possibly want to consider exploring. Thinking about big ideas is one of the best ways to determine what we really believe to be important, and what we want to prioritize as we move ahead. The minute we stop thinking big is the minute we settle for less than we are capable of achieving.

For more from Brian, and to pick up your copy of the newly released The Imagination Gap, visit www.theimaginationgap.com.