An Imagination Age Checklist

Rita J. King
December 31, 2016

Imagination is how our brains create a path from where we are to where we want to go. Carve your own path and apply your imagination to real life.

Some people are great fantasizers with wild imaginations, but they don’t necessarily apply their visions to real problems. Others are followers who want a path cut for them that they can follow. They don’t use much imagination as they attempt to achieve what others have told them will make them successful.

Imagination is how our brains create a path from where we are to where we want to go. This post is for those of you who want to carve your own path in 2017 and apply your imagination to real life.

The 26 Glyphs of the Imagination Age represent different focus areas for people looking to use their imaginations to solve problems and maximize opportunities. This post focuses on four of them.

Tribe

Maybe you think your Tribe revolves around you. And in a sense, that’s true from your perspective. But everyone else sees it the same way, too. And in the end, the point of a Tribe is for each person to have a sense of belonging and to feel that they are a part of something bigger than themselves. It takes imagination to constantly assess how you, in a state of perpetual transition, fit into a Tribe as it evolves. The way people at holidays treat adults as if they are still children reflects a lack of imagination. The way people treat a new stage of a loved one's life as if it is the same as the old reflects a lack of imagination. The same is true in professional environments, when people make decisions based on outdated dynamics rather than balancing the development of each individual with the needs of the entire organization.

A great way to approach being a functional member of a Tribe in 2017 is to ask yourself what’s in it for other people, and how you can serve them without worrying about what you might get in return.

Everybody is at a different level of emotional maturity in life. The people in your Tribe might not have put the same time into developing themselves. This is a recipe for frustration if you expect people to magically have the same level of self-awareness that you possess through hard work and being willing to face the truth about yourself. Instead, try meeting people in your Tribe where they are and not expecting much in return. If you feel unsatisfied by this, you can cultivate relationships with new people who meet you where you are and add them to your Tribe.  

Focus

One thing is for sure in 2017. You will be bombarded with a lot of confusing information. When a magician brings a tiger on stage, it is meant to distract viewers so they don’t notice how the real trick is being done. It’s hard not to stare at a beautiful, dangerous tiger.

But you can make a choice. Focus is worth fighting for. In 2017, try to take charge of your own Focus. Every time you get distracted, your brain needs a long time to reorient itself back to what you were doing before. At work, this might mean avoiding getting sucked into the interpersonal dynamics that can prevent a project from moving forward. Instead, try to diffuse the drama and move things forward. Yes, this might mean putting your ego on the back burner. Try it. It might mean not checking your phone as often as you do, or jumping to respond to people instantly. You have the same amount of time in your day as everyone else who has ever accomplished anything. Sometimes the only difference between you and them is that they chose to focus, whenever possible. It is not always possible, of course. But when it is, take every chance you get.

Ultimately, you are what you choose to Focus on.

Rejuvenation

Rejuvenation is what happens when you get ideas in the shower, when you are relaxed and hopefully not with your phone no matter how good the water-proofing gets. When your mind has a chance to relax, thoughts that get suppressed in the usual day to day busyness have a chance to rise to the top.

When things get chaotic, people tend to feel guilty relaxing, as if a Really Terrible Thing is going to happen just because you didn’t check Twitter. How can we possibly relax when so many bad things are happening? If you don’t keep a clear head and move forward to do your best work and make the contributions you’re meant to make, then how can you expect others to do the same? And if nobody is keeping a level head....then what?

On a flight, when the flight attendants remind you to put your own oxygen mask on before helping other people, including your own kids, they are really reminding you that panic might actually be deadly. Take a breath and relax, or you won’t be much help to yourself or others.

Improvization

Improvisation is one of the pillars oWe work on massive projects with leadership teams at some of the world’s best companies, and if there’s one thing I can tell you unequivocally about modern leadership, it’s that things are going to keep changing very quickly.

If you currently occupy a leadership position within your organization and find yourself feeling uncomfortable when things change around you, try Improvisation. Instead of saying no, say yes whenever possible, just to keep the open exchange of information flowing. Don’t compromise your priorities by saying yes to new projects or work when you should say no. Don’t say yes to anything that compromises the values of the organization. But for everything else, try to say yes, and...when you want to say, “No, that’s not how we do things.”

You might be an expert in the way things used to be, clinging to outdated ideas as if your livelihood depends on it. Your staff might desperately be trying to help you modernize an organization for which you are responsible. When this happens, Improvisation will help you grow without alienating them.

2017 is a new opportunity to navigate through some of the obstacles we face. Let's make a commitment to ourselves and each other that we will try harder this year to achieve what we're capable of, as individuals and in groups. We have this power, and we can use it.

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