The musings of a landscape painter, art teacher, and art history lover
Question: What does one and one add up to? Answer: 11
Find out how to expand the powers of imagination to an exponential level. This short article has important advice for anyone wanting to further understand the creative process.
In my previous post, I stated that imagination has two important properties. First, imagination is governed by no rules or laws, physical or civil. Second, imagination comes from a place of unlimited energy and capacity. If I were to add a third property, it would be this: When you combine the first two properties of imagination with multiple minds, the results are exponential. The wonderful thing about imagination is that the more people that put their mind to an idea, the further the idea expands. This is true in a small group setting as much as in large groups.
When I was young, my father used to ask me what one and one added up to. I, of course, would say two. My father would correct me, saying no, it's eleven. At the time, I had no idea what he meant by that, but later he would explain it to me. What he meant was, when two people put their heads together to work on a project or idea, the result is not to the power of two, but rather to the power of eleven. I should maybe point out that my father was a mechanical engineer who helped to design rockets during the American and Russian space race. He was tasked with solving major problems associated with space flight and really knew the advantage of working with others to brainstorm ideas and come up with solutions. After all, those early scientists were imagining things that had previously never existed. They were moving from science fiction into the realm of reality. And they were on a time constraint.
Truthfully, imagination is cumulative and what is first impossible evolves to become the standard. Let's look at the history of flight and how we eventually ended up in space, as an example. At first, Leonardo da Vinci came up with the wild idea of a flying machine for man. He put his full (and singular) imagination to this task and came a long way, but ultimately ended up short. It was not until years later that the Wright brothers were able to add their imaginations to the mix and create an actual plane. From that point, more and more imaginative people came on board, and before you knew it, mankind was able to launch a human being into orbit. Remember, the original creative idea came about in the late 1400s with Leonardo da Vinci. It took time, but eventually, creativity turned pure imagination into reality.
Here is the timeline:
Leonardo da Vinci designs flying machines and the first parachute.
Orville and Wilbur Wright make the first powered, sustained, and controlled flight in a heavier-than-air flying machine.
U.S. astronauts Neil A. Armstrong and Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr., are the first to walk on the moon.
First crew arrives to take up residence in the International Space Station.
Let your imagination run wild. Eventually, reality will catch up to it. Just look at where we are now. Recently, we landed a Mars rover onto the red planet. I'm old enough to remember reading comic books about sending spaceships to Mars and about life on Mars. Now, here we are! We have truly turned imagination into creativity and hence into reality. Remember, imagination knows no bounds and everything we have today was once only imagined.
Again, one must keep in mind that all of this began as imagination. The idea of man flying during Leonardo da Vinci's time was as preposterous as the idea of man landing on the moon during the Wright brother's time. However, it was the cumulative process of imaginative minds over centuries that eventually got us where we are today. You have to begin with some kernel of an idea (no matter how absurd sounding) and then, add additional imagination and thought to the idea.
How can you capitalize on this information? Well, if you are a business, then you need to be thinking of how to create creative environments where coworkers can unabashedly throw out ideas and collaborate on solutions to problems. One of the stumbling blocks to this, is that most businesses have a desired outcome already in mind. However, if a business can create an environment where the outcome is variable and just see where the creative process leads, innovations will be boundless. After all, the first rule of imagination is that imagination is governed by no rules or laws, physical or civil. By its nature, it has infinite possibilities. Businesses just need to be able to allow those possibilities to develop without hindrance. Imagine a working environment where no idea is a bad one and everyone is encouraged to offer something and to just get ideas out. Then, the team begins to whittle ideas down and see where they lead.
If you are an individual attempting to work creatively, I would suggest that you find a community or at least a support group to bounce off ideas. Seek collaborative projects and plan time to be with other creative people. So many creatives are solitary individuals who prefer seclusion to socialization. However, to really branch forward, you need a group to act as your sounding board. Remember, when you put two heads together, you get the power of eleven, not two. The great artist. Pablo Picasso, borrowed ideas from everyone and then made them into his own. In addition, his invention of cubism could not have happened without the collaboration of Georges Braque. So get out there and meet some people.
Science fiction to reality
Imagination moves the impossible into the realm of the reality, but it takes some faith.
Mars Rover Launch: June 10th, 2003.
Now it's your turn! Don't let others turn you from your creative path and know that just because something seems impossible, it may only need further imagination to see it realized. Keep at it!
Author: Bruce Black
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