I’ve never heard of any scientific studies to measure our imagination quotient like there are the other intelligence’s like the IQ (intelligence quotient), EQ (emotional quotient), or the AQ (adversity quotient), but it seems like our ability as a people to imagine a better future is at an all time low. Innovation is the driving force inside a nation’s economy, however, we won’t innovate if we aren’t ready to create, and we won’t create if we don’t imagine. The imagination is the mind’s eye. It’s the ability to visualize. Vision is one of the most critical elements of leadership and leadership is married to entrepreneurship. LIFE Leadership is concerned that society is facing a declining trend of leadership. For example, Inc. Magazine writes in the May 2015 issue, “According to recent studies, the rate of startup creation has been decreasing for years.” “Are we witnessing the slow death of entrepreneurship?” There’s a saying, “If you can see it, you can believe it.” “If you can believe it, you can achieve it.” As a nation, what has happened to our imagination quotient?
Images form impressions that stimulate hundreds of millions of neurons in the sub – conscious mind. Vince Pascente writes about this in his book, ‘The Ant and the Elephant.' Our subconscious mind believes images to be real. Those images elicit power from the passions inside our imagination. David J. Schwartz in his book, ‘The Magic of Thinking Big,’ writes, “A Big Thinker visualizes what can be done in the future.” We are witnessing trends in business, education, and government that directly influence our ability as a nation to use our imagination.
According to Census Bureau data reported by the Kauffman Foundation and the Brookings Institution, the number of new companies as a share of all U.S. businesses has dropped 44% since 1978. I believe there are a number of reasons for this negative indicator. We all want and encourage our children to dream big, and hope that their imagination is uninhibited. What has happened to the imagination, however, of an adult? Why do we tell a child to, “Dream big,” but when an adult releases their imagination of an uninhibited idea we tell the adult, “get real.” What has happened to our messaging? Thomas Edison never waivered in his attempt to experiment. It took him 1000 ways to discover the light bulb. Many times he was encouraged to stop as from an outsider’s view he appeared to be failing over and over again. From an insider’s eyes however, he found 1000 ways of discovering what in his mind he clearly saw. I believe there have been subtle influences throughout our culture. Those influences are having a negative effect on our imagination.
Why would our imagination quotient as a nation intentionally be dumbed down? Orrin Woodward writes about underlying financial motives prevailing in our country in his new book release, ‘The Financial Matrix.’ Something of this magnitude could only happen if there was a change of values in a culture as a whole. I recently read one author describe the stealing of a nation’s imagination as the equivalent of ‘mind arson.’ Influences in our culture come from media, education, and government. After reading ‘The Financial Matrix,’ could each one of those sectors be influenced by financial institutions?
Students at one time were given a classical liberal education as was common when our nation was founded. Two thirds of the signers of the Declaration of Independence studied the classics, half of them informally using a ‘Self – Directed’ education. The Classisists warned that discarding Latin and Greek would only serve to undermine the cultural foundations of our country. The roots of the words we use would no longer be known. For example, the word virtue means ‘goodness’ in Greek. Honor means ‘respect’ or ‘reverence’ in Latin. The meaning of words could be altered without society even knowing it. In addition, the classics provided historical knowledge for the Founders to learn about fearing conspiracies against liberty. Students today lose the value that the classics provided. They lose a sense of adventure and heroism. By not reading the classics, we no longer understand the history of oppression by not having the meaning of the root of the words and what it takes for victory over challenges to the threats against liberty.
Compulsory education got rolling between 1905 and 1915. This is not a surprise. Woodrow Wilson, then President of Princeton University is quoted, “We want one class of persons to have a classical liberal education, and we want another class of persons, a very much larger class, of necessity, in every society, to forgo the privileges of a classical liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks.” The ‘Education Act’ that came into law in 1944 was designed to meet the post war industrial economy. Imagination gradually became replaced with ‘The facts.’ Endless memory drills and continual testing paralyzes the imagination. Industrial age universities became high priced occupational training centers. This is not a surprise. A former New York teacher of the year said, “Standardization cripples the imagination.” Today, IQ and SAT tests are based on timed written examinations in which success mainly depends on a good ‘short term’ memory of factual information as taught by a central authority.
Prior to this shift in education our nations literacy as a whole was the bench mark to the world. Our ability to think and imagine is impacted by our ability to read. An effective way to lose our imagination and take away our ability to think independently is to manipulate our literacy. If we don’t read we won’t expand our minds. Adult illiteracy clearly shows up on the radar between WWII and the Korean Wars. In 1949 literacy stood between 80% and 90%. Six decades later, the ‘Adult Literacy Survey’ and ‘National Assessment of Educational Progress’ reported literacy between 20% and 40%. In 2006, the ‘National Commission on the Future of Higher Education’ reported “Only 31% of college – educated Americans can fully comprehend a newspaper story, down from 40% a decade earlier.” Curiously, money spent on schooling had grown 350%.
The media is now used as a substitute for reading. The prevailing attitude in our culture today is that we use the internet almost exclusively as our information source. In addition, studies show a Television is turned on for six hours a day in the average household. Images from those sources influence the subconscious mind. Those mediums influence our values. Today we have created a population that needs to be distracted. In addition, the messages throughout our culture have quietly created a mass of consumers focused on instant gratification. The ‘American Psychiatric Association writes, “Devotion to media content is literally addictive.”
Imagination is the driving force of our economy. We believe, we imagine, we create. Application of creativity is innovation. One of the biggest problems in business today is the lack of innovation. Sir Ken Robinson PhD, Professor Emeritus of Education at the University of Warwick in the UK writes, “Today’s companies say they want people who can think creatively, who can innovate, who can communicate, work in teams and are adaptable and self – confident.” Claude Bristol’s writes in his book, ‘The Magic of Believing,’ “I sought out successful people who gave me the keys for what I wanted out of life.”
LIFE Leadership is committed to providing a proven system with a strong emphasis toward restoring a culture of literacy. This can raise our imagination quotient that has been in decline. The Great writer in the 1800’s Alexis de Tocqueville said, “Education begins with association.” LIFE Leadership is an association promoting literacy and a self – directed education.
Instead of taking our imaginations away that we all as a child once possessed we need to feed our dreams again. The story goes about a young boy whose mother’s life was lost suddenly leaving him as a single child with his father. His grades suffered because he lost motivation until one day the teacher gave an assignment to write a paper imagining what he wanted his future to look like. He came back with easily the best paper in the class, describing a ranch on a hill with a long winding driveway surrounded by a white picket fence. The Cathedral style home overlooked a large private lake surrounded by acres of fresh oak trees. The teacher, however, knew about the boys lifestyle change to a single income father barely making ends meet so she gave a comment on his paper, “Get a real dream or you will get an F.” Crying, the boy left to review the comment with his father. His father would not give the boy advice one way or the other but would only let the boy decide. The next day the boy turned back in his paper with a small note to the teacher, “You keep the F, I’ll keep the dream.” That’s how we must be again. We must be like children again. We must believe. We must dream. We must imagine. God Bless, George Guzzardo