Feature Article: Imagine!
“Some Men See Things As They Are And Say Why.
I Dream Things That Never Were And Say Why Not.”
Masterful change agents realize that they must forget what they know in order to discover what they need. They understand that in order to create a
different future they must imagine their way into the new and emerging world. In her commencement address at Harvard University, J. K. Rowling, creator
of Harry Potter, extolled the crucial importance of imagination. “We don’t need magic to transform our world. We carry all the power we need inside
ourselves already. Imagination is the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. It
is the power that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared. Unlike any other creature on this planet, humans can
think themselves into other people’s minds, imagine themselves into other people’s places.” We humans can feel ourselves into other people suffering. We
weep when looking into the pained eyes of earthquake victims in China. We find it unbearable to see pictures of starving children in Darfur.
Of course, this capacity to imagine is morally neutral and can certainly lead people to manipulate, control
or ignore the suffering of others. What we do with this uniquely human capacity is up to each of us. Our imagination can lead us in downward spiral of
fearful, short-term, scarcity thinking. As J.K. Rowlings reminds us, many prefer not to exercise their imaginations at all. “They can refuse to hear
screams or to peer inside cages; they can close their minds and hearts to any suffering that does not touch them personally; they can refuse to know.”
“I have a dream,” spoke Martin Luther King with passion, courage and commitment. Seeking to
connect with our shared “American dream,” he evoked the highest future possibility he could imagine. He appealed to the best in each of us and
shared a vision of how we could be together—giving voice to possibilities others could not see or articulate.
So it’s our choice and I suggest, our responsibility “to see things as they are and say why or to dream
things that never were and say why not.” We can raise our voices on behalf of the voiceless. We can imagine ourselves into the lives of those who do not
have our advantages. Our future as individuals is shaped by our imagination. The future of our world will be shaped by our individual imagination in
conversation with all other individual imaginations. This is the power we must harness. We can use our imagination to inspire a vision of hope, sustainability,
and abundance for ourselves and our world and we can work together to make our vision real.
How will you use the power of your imagination?
“You May Say That I’m a Dreamer but I’m Not the Only One. I Hope Someday You’ll Join Us And the World Will Live As One.”
Leadership Lessons: Be A Leader of Possibility
On that hot August day in 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech spoke to what is
fundamental to any human being. He sought to awaken an underlying desire in all people. He demonstrated with body and soul that dreaming can make a difference.
We are simply seeking to bring into full realization the American dream—a dream yet
unfulfilled. A dream of equality of opportunity, of privilege and property widely distributed; a
dream of a land where men no longer argue that the color of a man’s skin determines the
content of his character, the dream of a land where every man will respect the dignity and worth of human personality.
Any one of us can summon the courage and persistence to lead from our passion, our
values, our best self, rather than from our fear, whether we stand in the position of CEO or
employee, citizen or elected official, teacher or student. “The foremost challenge for leaders
today is to maintain the clarity to stand confidently in the abundant universe of possibility no
matter how fearful people are, and no matter how urgently the wolf may appear to howl at the door.”
The leader of possibility courageously shifts out of gravitational pull downward spiral thinking
that sees only threat and scarcity. The leader of possibility opens a window on a world of
connection, creativity, and vision of something new and better. This vision is a powerful
framework that releases us from the weight and confusion of immediate problems and
concerns offering instead an open invitation and inspiration for others to create, to invent, to change. (From The Art of Possibility by the Zanders)
CRITERIA FOR A VISION OF POSSIBILITY
A vision articulates a possibility.
A vision fulfills a desire fundamental to humankind, a desire with which any human being can
A vision makes no reference to morality or ethics, it is not about a right way of doing
things. It cannot imply that anyone is wrong.
A vision is stated as a picture for all time, using no numbers, measures, or comparatives. No
specifics of time, place, audience, or product.
A vision is free-standing—it points to a rosier future, not to a past in need of
improvement. It gives over its bounty now. If the vision is “peace on earth,” peace comes with its utterance. When the
possibility of ideas making a difference is spoken, at that moment ideas do make a difference.
A vision is a long line of possibility radiating outward. It invites infinite expression,
development, and proliferation within its framework.
Speaking a vision transforms the speaker. For that moment the “real world” becomes a universe
of possibility and the barriers to the realization of the vision disappear.
From The Art of Possibility
“If I Were to Wish for Anything I Should Not Wish for Wealth and Power, but for the Passionate Sense of What Can Be, For the Eye, which, Ever Young and Ardent,
Sees the Possible. Pleasure Disappoints, Possibility Never.” Kiekegaard, Either/Or
TIPS, TOOLS AND PRACTICES: Give Way to Your Passion
“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that I translated through you into
action. And because there is only one you in all time, this expression is unique.” (Martha
Graham) If you block this force it will be lost to the world. It is not up to you to decide how
valuable, good or special it is. It is up to you to keep the channel open and clear and to bring
your unique gifts, your passion into the world, to lean into the music with your whole self.”
So how can we tap into the generative power of the universe—the electric socket for possibility, the energy of transformation?
The Practice: Running Energy
Sit comfortably and close your eyes…. Focus on your breathing…breath with your belly. As you
exhale, release tension and worries…. Imagine you have roots like a tree that branch out through all of the earth and through the roots you can
pull up the earth’s sustenance into your body as you inhale, enabling you to feel as connected to the earth…Pull earth energy up into yourself,
tune into your connection to the earth, to your body…Feel the calming, nurturing, sustaining energy of the earth flowing through the whole of
your body, supporting you and allowing you to focus….Notice how the earth supports your weight, your whole being….Now become aware of the sky,
the air, the breeze, the movement of the sky, the energy of the sky and imagine your head opening up like a funnel and the sky energy pouring
into the whole of your body tingling down your spine…mixing with the energy of the earth. Feel yourself becoming attuned with the energy
of the sky…let the sky energy mix with the earth energy throughout your body… Energy of the sky, energy of the earth constantly moving through
you…now that you’ve created these channels for energy…Set your intention to have the energies continually move through you….Open your eyes
knowing this energy continues to move through you.…If ever you need to reinforce this energy, all you need to do is focus back on these
channels, and you’ll clear the path for the movement of energy through you …Know that this is so.
© 2008 Bette George & Associates, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Conversations on Leadership and Life is an e-newsletter written by Bette George of Bette George &
Associates. In each issue, Bette offers best practice tips and resources, innovative ideas and inspiration to
help you begin to create the change you want to see in yourself, your workplace, your community.
Join Bette in an e-conversation today. Subscribe to Conversations on Leadership and Life by sending a
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