Daydreaming is condemned as a waste of time, yet we place value, often great value, on new ideas. Why this dichotomy? The trouble with imagination is that it’s untethered and unstructured. There’s no rhyme or reason––it’s easy to become lost.
We need an analytics of imagination. But how? Is imagination a skill? Can it be practiced and improved? Can you exert control over imagination and channel it productively? It would seem this is one area where humans will surpass machines. But little, if no, attention is devoted to honing this proficiency. Imagination is, after all, not taught in schools. While there are a multitude of thinking and brain-storming techniques available, there are no universally established methods or practices which have been shown to be effective in improving one’s imagination.
“To know is nothing at all; to imagine is everything.” ––Anatole France
A rough sketch of the beginnings of an analytics of imagination would include the following: “Take seriously the skill of imagination.” “Make a conscious decision to spend at least some part of each day thinking imaginatively.” “Gently evaluate your imaginative thoughts.” “Make a practice of utilizing your imagination to solve simple as well as complex problems.” “Use your imagination to achieve your short and long term goals.” “Ask routinely––to what practical use can be made of these imaginative ideas?” “Ask routinely—if imagination only were utilized to solve this problem, what would the range of potential solutions look like.” Etc.
“I try to decorate my imagination as much as I can.” ––Franz Schubert
Academics, scientists, artists, writers, and yes, lawyers should hone this skill. Juries follow ideas, but not all ideas originate from the same source. Ideas that will carry the day are often arrived at haphazardly, chaotically, derived from obscure regions where an infinitesimally small ray of sunlight breaks through the darkness.
“If I create from the heart, nearly everything works; if from the head, almost nothing.” ––Marc Chagall
You’ve arrived at an impasse. There’s no solution. You’ve explored and exhausted all traditional methods. That’s the time to ask––what would occur if we looked at this problem in an entirely different way? What about…why not try…what if––and the solution arrives.