How Imagination Can Elevate Business Leadership and Innovation

One of the most surreal things we have been gifted with is the ability to use our imagination. It is the prime mover that brings a work of art to life, giving it form and shape.

According to the Scientific American article, mathematician and jazz musician Marcus Miller said, “The fun lies in imagining and experimenting with the technical and linguistic components one has incorporated to invoke a sensation, express an emotion, or tell a story.” As the mastery of the instrument and the underlying language expands, the mind becomes more sensitive to different ideas. In contrast, the body becomes more competent at putting those ideas into practice. The path thus expands naturally from creative absorption to transformation and eventually execution.

The Effects of Imagination on the Brain

Our brains utilize intricate processes by which we can imagine bringing together objects without any previous connections. A study conducted in 2013 by Dartmouth researchers investigated how the brain enables us to manipulate mental imagery. Their research revolves around measuring the participants’ brain activity with functional MRI, discovering that the most significant part of the brain—the neural network—was responsible for imagery manipulation.

This network is also called the “mental workspace,” where it is constantly working on manipulating complex ideas, symbols, images, and theories to give us the mental focus required to solve intricate problems and develop new ideas.

Consequently, mental imagery is something vital when it comes to organization in our daily lives. As leaders, we need to think and plan about our future by imagining objects, scenarios, and more that will exponentially change the scope of what we are capable of.

Product and service development are a manifestation of imagination that can improve the conditions in which we live. This is our power: bringing to reality our thoughts that expand our ability to live more effectively and productively. Additionally, imagination plays a significant role in bringing forth new things, new applications, and new connections. Imagination is a powerful tool that can instill a visual and emotional connection to possibility.

Many professionals believe in the power of imagination and consider it to be an essential factor when it comes to elevating business leadership and innovation. Consider Dr. Anneloes Smitsman, the leader and CEO behind EARTHwise Centre, a prestigious organization providing education, capacity development, research, system design, innovation, and leadership for the necessary systemic transformations of people and organizations.

Plus, Smitsman is also an award-winning pioneer in human development and system change who recently launched the EARTHwise Constitution for a Planetary Civilization to offer     unique living systems based solutions for helping our societies change for the better.

Through years of research that led to systemic innovation capacities and a Transition Plan for a Thrivable Civilization, Smitsman serves the professional sector uniquely through a diverse range of services and initiatives. Her innovative programs include leadership training for developing essential systemic capacities, education for thrivability, regenerative economics, new paradigm governance, sustainability, systems science, and more. Smitsman has also developed an innovative theory that she applies in her training programs regarding the use of imagination as an ‘imaginal capacity’. She explains how this imaginal capacity goes further than mere imagination, and is not just used by humans, but by all living systems. “The imaginal,” she explains, “is more than the imaginative, which is rather a creative mental state. The imaginal, instead, is the transformative capacity of living systems for learning, healing, renewal, transformation, and rebirth through the activation of our innate future potential.” 

Smitsman applies this understanding in her global future humans programs, which she co-developed with the world-renowned Dr. Jean Houston, who is regarded as one of the principal founders of the human potential movement. Houston refers to Smitsman as a “female Einstein”. She writes in her testimony of Smitsman, “I, as well as many others, regard Anneloes Smitsman as a female Einstein. I met prof Einstein when I was 8 years old, and he told me that his greatest quality was imagination, a quality which Anneloes shares abundantly and which informs her extraordinary creative gifts. She is a living example of what it means to walk the path of the emerging future human.”

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