Between Mysticism and Reality – The Realm of Imagination
This post was inspired by three disconnected, yet in my fertile mind, related things.
The first was a recent post by Phil Friedman on Mysticism vs. Rationality (On Forcing Perception to fit Preconception).
The second was a quote from a church sermon. While I won’t go into the whole talk, there was one quotation in the handout that struck me, which sent me on a mini-research project on the topic using my smartphone. It’s a good thing there was not test at the end, because the topic was so engaging I have to admit I didn’t hear much of what the speaker said. (A side note: this was my major problem in school… I would get distracted by the ‘interesting’ and go off on an adventure).
The quote, by C.S. Lewis was the definition of ‘the satisfied imagination’. He described it as “Looking long enough and looking freshly at what is familiar”.
C.S. Lewis is probably best known for his series The Chronicles of Narnia, mythological fantasy rich in allegory. He is also well known for his writings on Christianity, and in particular using scholarly tools to attempt to define the mystical.
He seemed to hover a lot between Phil’s Mysticism and Rationality… and somehow (for me at least), provide a good measure of plausibility that Christianity (not the church you may be interacting with today, but the core tenets of the movement) might just have some merit.
But that’s not what I’m writing about today… I’ll save that for a future post.
The third trigger is a sign I have in my office, pictured above.
It’s not a sign that hangs on a wall, but a series of 3” high letters spelling out one word – “IMAGINE”
Today I want to talk about the realm between mysticism and rationality, an area that Mr. Lewis saw as a key to a fulsome life.
It’s also important if you want to be considered a strategic leader.
That realm is imagination.
If you ask me the worst thing we as a society have done to our children in the last 100 years, I would stick my neck out and say…
We have devised a school system that systematically suppresses their imagination and creativity. We focus on facts, on conformist behaviour, on receiving information rather than thinking.
We have elevated ‘rational thinking’ to the ultimate prize in education.
But if you look at all the breakthroughs of modern history, the prize has gone to the outliers, the dreamers and the divergent thinkers.
Educational systems that focus on purely rational learning, tend to be good at being efficient, but not necessarily good at producing innovators.
I could go on and on and on, but instead of dwelling on the negative, I want to dwell on the place of imagination and creativity in our world.
If you are connected with the educational system in Canada or the US, you may have heard of Sir Ken Robinson.
Aside from having a funky accent, he has found a way to articulate the need for change in our school systems.
In the following YouTube clip, he talks about the requirement for divergent thinking, which creates a fertile environment for creativity.
Please don't skip over the video… it’s an important part of my thought process here…
It's only 3-1/2 minutes long, and I promise, it is not boring.
(Here's the link if you can't see the video: https://youtu.be/hzBa-frc2JA)
You DID watch the video? It’s really worth it.
I'll wait while you go back and do so....
As the study cited in the video show, we ‘teach’ the genius out of our kids.
The good news?
You can resurrect that inner genius, by learning to build questioning, dreaming, and divergent thinking into your life.
Now here’s your homework.
I actually borrowed it from Javier (beBee) Cámara Rica.
It’s his mantra that allowed him to build a new social network to over 11 million users in less than 2 years.
It’s quite simple.
If you are not a dreamer, perhaps you can learn to question things.
Some men see things as they are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were, and ask why not.
If you have read down this far, you may feel that I am against rational thinking.
I truly am not.
As a matter of fact, I wish there was much more rational thinking in the world, especially in the area of politics and social media commentary.
But if we treat Rational Thinking as the only approach, we are robbing ourselves of the innovation our creativity and dreams can produce, or (while it never really creates anything tangible) missing the wonder that the mystical can provide.
There's a place for the dreamer.
There's a place for divergent thinking.
And there's a time and place to question things, to see if they could be better.
I know that some of you will agree with me.
I also hope that some will disagree (respectfully of course).
That's what the comment section is all about.
....Now, where did I leave that paperclip?
Image: K.W. Pashuk
About the Author:
I’m the Chief Information Officer for Appleby College, in Oakville, Ontario Canada, where my team is transforming the delivery of education through innovative application of technology.
I'm convinced that IT leadership needs to dramatically change how IT is delivered rather than being relegated to a costly overhead department.
In addition to transforming IT in my role as CIO, I look for every opportunity to talk about this... writing, speaking and now blogging on BeBee (www.bebee.com/@kevin-pashuk) , LinkedIn, ITWorld Canada, or at TurningTechInvisible.com.
I also shoot things... with my camera. Check out my photostream at www.flickr.com/photos/kwpashuk