It is the perfect triad: imagination, creativity and confidence. Imagination is the cognitive state of dreaming up new ideas or solution ns, creativity is the process of developing those innovative thoughts to action and confidence happens as a result of making those dreams a reality. It’s a simple equation that constitutes a complex series of events. It may take minutes, days or even years to produce the final project but completion provides closure and builds confidence. Self efficacy is an important concept here because it embraces the belief that your actions can make a difference in producing expected results.
We all have dreams and fantasies, hopes and aspirations and that makes us different from other living creatures. So what sets us apart from each other is that some people can raise their emotional capital and intellectual stamina to seize an opportunity to become innovative. Driven by a thirst for new challenges, they unconsciously disregard feelings of fear and inadequacy. These are people who embrace the unknown and understand that thinking outside the box is about finding the unpredictable, problem solving and being on the winning side of the creative experience.
In her book “When Walls Become Doorways”, Dr. Tobi Zausner writes about how difficult life events can transform an individual and their creative process. As a young woman, Frida Kahlo suffered massive bodily injuries from a bus accident and was restricted to bed for many months. Her mother had a special easel built that could be used by someone lying down and her father gave her oil paint. “Lying in bed, Kahlo started to create the paintings that would eventually make her famous” says Zausner. Kahlo channeled her passion and talent and became a celebrated artist.
Thanks to a dream Elias Howe had, he realized how to fasten the needle and cloth together on the sewing machine he was developing. "I was taken prisoner by a group of natives. They were dancing around with spears. As they were moving around me, I noticed their spears all had holes near their tips." Although the dream was frightening, he translated the dream to make his invention work. By placing a hole near the tip of the needle so thread could pass through, fabric could be sewn on the machine. This is a classic example of how imagination can initiate the creative process and result in confidence as a result of its success.
Sometimes being in a compelling profession inspires thoughts for another creative outlet. Both Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park, ER television series, etc. ) and John Grisham (A Time to Kill, Pelican Brief, etc.) had careers in medicine and law respectively. In their work, both surely had “what-if” moments that developed in to a string of possibilities as a mental narrative. And that started their writing careers which spawned such popular novels that they left their professions and devoted themselves to writing. Grisham says “I seriously doubt I would ever have written the first story had I not been a lawyer. I never dreamed of being a writer. I wrote only after witnessing a trial.”
Sometimes a dream can be so prescient that it requires verification in reality. "I woke up with a lovely tune in my head," Paul McCartney recalled to his biographer, Barry Miles. "I thought, 'That's great. I wonder what that is?'" He got up that morning in May 1965, went to the piano, and began playing the melody that would become "Yesterday." While he really liked the tune, he had some reservations: "Because I'd dreamed it, I couldn't believe I'd written it." (U.S. News & World Report. May 15, 2006 print edition). It took 2 weeks to add lyrics and it became one of the most popular songs in history having been voted the #1 Pop song of all time by MTV and Rolling Stone Magazine. The song was also inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
Age and talent are not as important as drive in bringing your imagination to an active state of creativity. You can build up your confidence with each process and with every success, no matter how small. So dream, aspire, play and allow yourself to make plenty of mistakes. Be flexible, go with the flow, get lost experimenting. Find the fun, enjoy yourself and trust the process.
We all live every day in virtual environments, defined by our ideas.
I dream of painting and then I paint my dream.
-Vincent Van Gogh