See the little boy walking down the street? He’s creating a world in his mind as he goes. Nobody else can see that world, but it’s okay . . . because he can.
This is what life is like for some people. Authors, artists, musicians, architects, designers, and the like. A five-minute walk can generate so many ideas it feels like your head may explode.
Look at what exists. Add to it. Subtract from it. Combine elements, then rearrange them. Twist them. Add in some abstract thought. Synthesize new patterns from seemingly unconnected systems.
Create something out of the nothing that existed before.
I was that little boy. Still am, in fact. I see things like that when I walk down the street. I build systems in my mind. But here’s the secret – and this is why the video struck me so deeply – it’s as simple as using your imagination.
I understand how trite that sounds. It’s something you say to children. But when children grow up, no one is encouraging them to use their imaginations anymore, and they forget all about it. And inside their minds where once incredible ideas were bubbling up, now there are only thoughts of money and work and bills and taxes and electronics and a vague idea of “getting stuff” and “being successful,” and they fall into line of what’s expected of them, and they never again dream of a fantastic alternate reality where the world is truly different and truly better.
The amazing part of all of this is that it’s right there in front of them – it’s ripe for the taking. People have so much more power than they think they do, but they don’t understand that they’re actually allowed to use it.
Sometimes when I get in the shower, I pretend it’s a personal spaceship. I close the curtain (shut the hatch), turn on the faucets (light up the engine), tilt the soap and shampoo bottles (adjust the controls), tap on the wall in a geometric pattern (set the course), and finally pull out the shower handle (engage, a la Star Trek TNG). I honestly do something like this 25% of the time I get in the shower. You’ll almost certainly dismiss this as silly, and silly it may be. BUT, allowing this kind of make-believe to flow throughout my brain during the day trains it to see things not as they are, but as they could be. With all this practice, it becomes much easier to look at an existing system in the real world and see not only what it is, but what it could become.
And that’s where the magic of using your imagination translates into real-world impact. Don’t worry if it’s silly. Don’t worry if it’s fanciful. Don’t worry if it’s not realistic. Cars, airplanes, spaceships, computers and cell phones were all of these things until someone thought enough of them to turn them into reality.
Building something new has to start somewhere. It has to start with someone. And there is absolutely no reason that somewhere shouldn’t be in your head, and that someone shouldn’t be you. Conjure up all the crazy ideas you want. Be silly. Be ridiculous. Have fun. You’ll forget about most of it at the end of each day. But you will constantly be planting small seeds in your head, and one day soon some of them will sprout into ideas that will take root in your mind and won’t let go. And when that happens, you will have the drive to work hard enough to turn those ideas into reality.
And when those ideas turn into reality, you will have the power to change the world.
Don’t be afraid.