When Albert Einstein did a little informal self-analysis, he prized imagination and persistence above raw intelligence. Some of his thoughts on the subject might just be helpful to us along the way:
imagination is more important than knowledge
logic will get you from A to B, imagination will take you everywhere
we can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them
never lose a holy curiousity
the true sign of intelligence is not knowledge, but imagination
In our world today, it is imagination, or the absence of it, that I think stands before us as one of the biggest challenges. The ability to bring a truly different perspective to a long-standing problem is first and foremost an exercise of the imagination. There is a big difference between fine-tuning, or tweaking current practice, and finding some truly left-field approach.
In our church, I think the same is true. When we look for innovation, we mostly play around on the edges, tweaking this, adjusting that. The two wonderful visual images that spring to mind are the re-arranging of the deck-chairs on the titanic….or the application of lipstick to a pig (yep, at the end of the day, it’s still a pig).
The question of course, is what will it take to resource our imaginations? To set us free to be truly and totally creative, not bound by convention or past-practice; not limited to making minor changes of time, place or format?
At least partly I think the answer lies in developing a clear understanding of our purpose, and any sense of what must remain non-negotiable (very little in my view). That creates for us an excellent starting point.
But part of the challenge lies in ‘practicing’ imagination. I’m convinced that imagination is like a muscle….not used it atrophies and shrinks. What would it take for us to find a way to stimulate our capacity to imagine? to create an imagination gymnasium?
We need as a minimum, to creative environments within which it is safe to imagine wildly; to propose bizarre ideas about a range of topics; to brain-storm freely and without fear; to be unfettered by logic or justifiability; and to do so again, and again, and again. From that space – from the intersection of imagination and persistence – the most amazing insights just might emerge.
i think and think for months and years. Ninety-nine times the conclusion is false. The hundredth time I am right.
Yep, Einstein again. Maybe he’s worth listening too.