I watched an Aljazeera documentary on a young aspiring chef in Turkey who changed his life through the power of imagination. This 15 year old boy lived in one of the towns, and worked with his uncle as a trainee chef. His dream was to become one of the most celebrated chefs in Istanbul. He told his uncle that he wanted to move to the city, but anytime he raised some visionary questions, his uncle always told him to be silent. What touched me most in the documentary was when he was teaching younger trainee chefs how to use their power of imagination to get to their destinations. He asked them to rest their backs on a couch, close their eyes, and imagine where they want to be and who they want to become in a few years time. As they closed their eyes and imagined, one after the other, he began to ask each person to describe the image he saw. One of them saw himself becoming the manager of a restaurant, while a few saw themselves becoming top chefs in the country. As I watched it, I was so excited because many times, I have taught people about the power and importance of creative imagination.
What is imagination? In my simple definition, imagination means to imagine. Imagining forms an image; an image is a mental picture. Sometimes in my house, as I spend time with my children doing morning devotions, I ask them what they want to become. My daughter has always been interested in becoming a doctor; although of recent, as she sees daddy write regularly, she has added writing to her list of potential career. My son wants to be an astronaut; he’s always visiting space in his toy spaceship. What I do sometimes is to tell them to close their eyes and picture themselves in whatever position they want to occupy in life. As I do that, I ask them to describe what they’re seeing; and vividly, they would tell me the images on their minds. The reason I do this is because imagination is the bedrock of creativity. Anything that was made was first imagined. Anything that was designed was also first imagined. Without imagination, no one can create anything meaningful and tangible. If it is not first imagined, it cannot have a defined structure; structure comes from imagination; shape is a product of imagination.
Since imagination is relevant to man, how then can we make and improve it positively? I used the word, ‘positively’ because there are certain imaginations that are destructive. An armed robber first imagines his devices before embarking on his clandestine notoriety. We wouldn’t call that positive. The same armed robber can have a change of mind, and channel his imaginations toward more purposeful pursuits; in that case, he becomes creatively useful to himself and the society at large.
To improve my positive imagination, the major action I take is to consistently live the life of meditation. What is meditation? Meditation simply means ‘to think or ponder’; the mind of man has the ability to think or ponder. Thinking or pondering is not the same thing as worrying; thinking is productive while worrying is destructive. To think, you must know the meaning of what you’re thinking. I meditate a lot, and in meditating, I use the dictionary to break down all the words I do not understand. After breaking them down to simpler forms, I start chewing the words in order to come up with better or more creative information. Most of the strategies I adopt, I obtain during meditation. All my quotes are obtained during meditation; my books are products of meditation. Meditation filters and cleanses your imagination. A life without meditation ends up becoming unsuccessful. If you must succeed in your career or profession, you must think or ponder through. There is no subject that meditation does not give you an edge. Follow it; live it and you will make it.
When you read a book, you can’t recall verbatim all the words you read because your brain wasn’t designed to act like a photocopier; you were designed to think and recall. In spite of the inability of man to remember line by line the texts he reads from a book, he can paraphrase and apply the principles in the book. One major way of improving a positive imagination is by reading good books. Good books broaden your scope of thinking. Good books create new and positive pictures in your mind. Good books make you reach higher levels that you’ve neither imagined nor been to. Good books are visas or entry passes that grant you access to the land of the greats or company of the best. Good books take you into the environment of small and great people, and expose to you how they reason. If you want to improve the positivity and sharpness of your imagination, read good books.
What you hear affects how you think. If you hear right, you will think right; if you hear wrong, you will also think wrong. Everyone may not have the patience to sit down and read, but those who can’t read can listen. Listening to great teachers help you improve your positive imagination. If your teacher, despite your poor performances keeps telling you that you’re intelligent but all you need to do is use it; you’ll be fired up. Why? Because a great teacher spoke to you. Good words are lifelines to enhancing positive imaginations. To grow your positive imagination, listen to great teachers; don’t pay attention to those who put you down.
There is one thing my wife consistently does that I like; when she decides to follow a blogger, she does it religiously. I introduced her to John Maxwell’s daily one minute videos; she watches it almost daily while I’m far behind in following. One way you can improve your positive imagination is by following great bloggers that focus on personal development. I must advice; never follow rogue bloggers; they are many out there. Great bloggers hardly charge you any money except for very useful workshops, webinars, trainings, etc. The rogues simply give you a tiny piece of dry bread to eat, and immediately ask you to pay some money if you want more. If a blogger cannot give away a hot loaf of well baked bread for free, the truth is that he hasn’t got it anywhere. So, be careful!
Your friends affect your frame. The type of friends you keep will determine the type of imagination you possess. If you move with small minds, you will keep shrinking until you become the same size with them. If you have a small mind but start relating with big minds, to fit in, you will force yourself to expand. Good and aspiring friends help improve your positive imagination. If Mathematicians are your best friends, take it or leave it, before long, you’ll start loving mathematics even if you initially hated it. Relationship has a great influence in improving or reducing your positive imagination.
Another major factor that helps improve your positive imagination is environment; I’m talking about your physical environment. What you keep seeing registers in your subconscious; that is why you must be careful what you see. Your environment includes the things you watch on television, internet, home videos, pictures on your wall, and screensavers on your computer, tablet or phone. If the things you see don’t improve your imagination, they cannot help your vision. Even if you live in the ghetto, recreate your immediate environment by putting the right things in place and doing the right things. Don’t watch movies that will mess up your imagination. Don’t look at pictures that will poison your thought pattern. Don’t use screensavers that impress the wrong dream on your mind. Sweet dreams bring sweet results. What you watch is what you become; after all, those who watch their weights become slim. So, if you’re mindful of what you see, you will become what you see. See right; live right; become right. You can create the life you need, if you improve that imagination that will take you there. Let us create our visions and futures in our own image.