Daydreams as a Source of Innovation & Motivation
The audacity of dreams, or rather, daydreams.
Posted September 16, 2009
Barack Obama certainly had a dream . . . that one day he would be president. I'm sure that in his younger years many people would have mocked him for this audacious dream, but he followed his inner vision and now he's the 44th President of the United States.
The most dynamic and innovative people in any endeavor--business, science, athletics, politics, or the arts--are visionaries. And what exactly is a "vision?" At the end of the day I argue that a "vision" is just an upscale word for "daydream," and "visionary," an upscale word for daydreamer.
When people say they "dream" of being president or a billionaire or an artist or whatever it is they fantasize about--they are daydreaming those goals, literally envisioning them in their mind's eye.
Scientists and science fiction writers often had daydreams about ideas which, at the time, seemed incredibly far-fetched but later became very real life-changing innovations. The Internet, robots, rocketry, test-tube babies, scuba diving are just some of the inventions first conceived in daydreams and written about in science fiction by incredibly creative people who others may have thought of as simply weird or even delusional. In actuality, they were just heavy daydreamers with vivid imaginations and a store of interesting knowledge and experience from which to conceive their creative fantasies.
In fact, Robert Goddard, the father of modern space rocketry, had a very Einsteinesque daydream as a child about a vehicle flying to Mars. This daydream was so important to him that he went on to celebrate the day he had it--October 19th--the rest of his life. Though other scientists, including Wernher von Braun, greatly appreciated and used his advanced ideas, he was often scorned and ridiculed in the U.S. for what many considered his ridiculous "fantasies." Only after his death was he given full credit for his work. Today the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland is named after him. But such is the way for many creative visionaries. They are ahead of their time and scorned by those who do not understand the creative mind or the creative process, daydreaming in particular.
[Note to Tech companies everywhere: When you find a left-brained scientist/engineer who is also a heavy daydreamer, hire him or her immediately. They are the ones who will lead you to breakthrough innovations.]
Daydreams not only help us conceive products, systems, and art, they are also powerful blueprints for our personal lives. When we daydream or fantasize about our future, we are mentally imaging events--that is visualizing and simulating them--long before they happen. They can be and are the most powerful form of motivation any of us will ever know, whether we're daydreaming of a new career or daydreaming of a lifestyle more in keeping with our inner goals. That's why it's so important to become aware of your daydreams and to understand the effect they have on you.
The best compliment I received on my book came from my brother who recently and unexpectedly bought a house on Maui. In his e-mail to the family explaining why he made such an audacious move, during a recession no less, he writes: "This is partly Amy's fault since when we were simply in the dreaming stage, her book was delivered and the first chapter I read was the chapter on ‘Dreaming a better life.' We dreamed it and did it."
Kudos to all the daydreamers out there because they are the people who have the vision and drive to make things happen. Yes, you ultimately have to do all the hard work and take every step along the way, but without the "dream" or rather daydream burning in the background, you wouldn't have the fuel to persevere and make it all happen.
Copyright: Amy Fries
Photo credit: istock.com/Mooneydriver