Robotics. It’s the buzz in the business community. I’m having a conversation with business owners too. But it’s not about robots. Before I get mail, I am not anti-technology. Although, I’ll champion a human who needs a job to keep a roof overhead and put food on the table over a robot any day. And as a, meatball maker extraordinaire, there’s something intuitively off about a robot preparing my food. That said, here’s the discussion I’m having with business owners. It’s about something that gives you and every human on the planet the competitive advantage over a robot.
Is that something an opposing thumb or the size of our pre-frontal cortex? Is it that humans are the only species that can create emotion by thought alone? D, all of the above, if we’re referring to the beasts of our planet. Furry, feathered and aquatic friends aside, what differentiates you from a robot? A heart. Soul. Consciousness. Uh-huh. And think again. Because everything created by humanity that exists in the material plane, including robots, begins there. I’m talking about imagination.
Maybe you’ve seen my other articles or have heard me speak on imagination, and I’ll continue given I fell helplessly in love with the connection to this intangible powerhouse at age eight. I’ve never looked back because, “The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.” R.W. Emerson.
Why such a big deal about imagination you say? Here’s the thing, or millions of things. The automobile. Wheel & axle. Computer. Semiconductor. Internal combustion engine. Internet. It’s an impressive list throughout the centuries. Where would we be without the byproducts of the human imagination? In his timeless classic, Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill dedicates an entire chapter to, Imagination, The Workshop of the Mind. “The imagination is literally the workshop wherein are fashioned all plans created by people. The impulse, the desire, is given shape, form and action through the aid of the imaginative faculty of the mind.”
Imagination is thinking in pictures. It gives the brain the architectural blueprint to begin building and concretizing the idea.
“Where are you going with this, how is it relevant to me and my business?” Paula. I thought you’d never ask because in working with business owners, to develop ideas that keep their companies relevant amidst the technological revolution, I consider imagination a super power. Here’s why. Do you know of a robot, without human intervention, that can tap imagination for an idea, develop and implement it with measurable results? Until then, Team Human has the lead. And yes, as history shows, every industrial revolution has replaced certain jobs held by humans with machines. Remember though, a robot is only as good or as smart as the data it’s given by the human who programs it. And who’s the fixer when it malfunctions?
Meanwhile those who’ve been cultivating their imaginations, go to the head of the class. Because imagination is a human skill necessary to guide businesses, people too, through any industrial transition with ideas and viable opportunities that help them to remain relevant.
Robots won’t replace every job says Martin Ford, author of, Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future. Ford says there’s excellent news for the trades. “One area that is safe for people is the kind of job that requires lots of dexterity, hand-eye coordination and flexibility such as skilled trade jobs like electrician or plumber.” Mr. Ford you’re right and I say people who can tap imagination, birth and deliver the idea are worth their weight in gold to a company and to humanity at large. Take that to the bank, cash the check.
If you’re thinking, “Imagination is too abstract, where do I start?” I say, just start. And while you’re here, we’ll opt for the bird’s-eye view because attempting to teach the topic of imagination in an article is silly. Call me when you want to leverage imagination to develop ideas, problem solve or keep your business relevant. Granted the content is different, working with the imagination is similar to working with Laws like mathematics, chemistry, gravity etc., because each has a basic premise and foundational principles. Stress, fear, excessive computer usage and asking, “How?” turn off the imaginative process.
What enhances imagination? There are a number of things; silence, walking and any mindless activities that get you beyond the analytical mind. Like a muscle, the more you engage the imagination, the stronger and more efficient it gets. The inspiring news? Whether you’re imagining a new Ad campaign or a sixty-one-story skyscraper, the same principles apply.
Look, I’m not saying robots are bad. They’re programmed to do amazing things. Humans do amazing things too. I’m saying if you want your business or career to be around for a while, do something a robot can’t do. Or you could generate wealth by building assets and horizontal income buckets so you’ll have recurring income. That’s another story.
Meanwhile, Buckminster Fuller said, “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” And with a highly developed super power called, imagination, you can do precisely that.
Paula M. Parker (C) 2019 Originally published in