“People who habitually access their imaginations are often hailed by their colleagues as “geniuses” – as if “genius” was a genetic characteristic. They would be better understood as people who are practiced at accessing their genius.”
“Einstein used to say, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” When I first heard he’d said that, I didn’t know what he meant. I always thought additional knowledge was the answer to every difficult problem. I thought if I could just learn a few more important things, then I’d be happy. What I didn’t realize was that the very thing I needed to learn was not knowledge, but a skill.”
“What I needed to learn was the proactive use of my imagination. And once I’d learned that skill, the first task was to begin imagining the vision of who I wanted to be.”
100 Ways To Motivate Yourself: Change Your Life Forever
I, like Mr. Chandler have always believed, for years, subconsciously and more recently, consciously that additional knowledge was the key to problem solving. A relentless optimist, I’ve always held the belief that there’s a solution to every problem. Just because I haven’t figured it out yet doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Put me in a room with a pessimist, or even with a realist, and I can exasperate the best of them.
I realized, as I was reading this quote and drafting this post, that the exasperation of others often comes from the fact that, in a problem solving discussion, I always want to start at the beginning. It’s not uncommon for me to ask WHY something is being done a certain way in the first place. Everyone else wants to focus on the malfunction of step 138 and I want to go back to step one and make sure we should be killing ourselves to solve the problems at step 138 in the first place.
In my experience, sometimes a process gains momentum and morphs into an entity that is cared for in the place of the original goal. Maintaining the process becomes the goal and the original goal, the one the process was intended to facilitate, becomes secondary. Sometimes changes take place over time which aren’t accounted for and because the process isn’t modified to incorporate those changes, the process begins to move in a counter-productive direction.
Let’s go for a very simple example. Let’s say the goal is to get to a destination 1000 miles away. You decide to drive. Circumstances change and you need to bring a small load of stuff with you. You load the stuff into your trunk, start your car and are on your way. Then the load of stuff increases. You buy a trailer to hitch on the back of the car to haul the stuff. Then the car starts having problems. All kinds of problems. Which you attend to, each and every time. Slowly, the goal becomes “keep the car running” instead of “get to my destination.” I’m the one who comes along and interrupts everyone as they are covered with grease, leaning over the engine of the car. Clean and fresh, with no investment in the car, I ask:
“Why are you fixing this thing anyway?”
And then I start asking, “Is there a direct flight?” “Can we ship the load separately?” “Do we even need to ship this stuff at all?” “Can we buy the stuff at our destination instead of buying it here and hauling it 1000 miles?”
I realize that kind of questioning, my willingness to look stupid by asking the “stupid questions” comes not necessarily from knowledge, but from imagination. I may know how to fix the car too, but I don’t want to waste time and effort if there’s a better solution. Especially a more effective, simpler solution I don’t have to work so hard to maintain.