Einstein said, “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge, but imagination.” People spend so much time and money expanding their knowledge base. We dedicate a minimum of 12 years of our life to school, 13 if you graduate high school. Then we spend significantly more time and untold amounts of money in “higher” education so that by the time we are twenty-five, our heads are crammed full of facts and rhetoric. But as soon as we step out of academia and into the workforce, people want innovation, efficiency and fresh ideas. These things require the knowledge learned in school, but the spark that brings those facts and rhetoric together in new and exciting ways is imagination.
Typically, we begin to neglect the development of our imagination as soon as we enter school. And that malnourishment continues throughout our education until we are released into the work force and a healthy imagination is demanded of us. However, while many companies are excited to see thoughtful, innovative employees, there is very little emphasis on rehabilitating our enfeebled imaginations.
Earlier this year, Timothy Williamson, a professor of logic at Oxford, wrote an Op-Ed for the New York Times called “Reclaiming the Imagination” (the full article can be found here). He asks the question, “Why did humans evolve the capacity to imagine?” and concludes that being able to imagine different situations, allowed us to better prepare for danger and is a natural tool for learning.
Imagination is crucial to the growth and success of our society as well as our personal development. Take some time today to exercise your imagination.