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Personal Development: Imagination

Personal development: Imagination


Your imagination is your creative mind. And depending on how you use your imagination, it can make any day a source of misery or a source of excitement and great joy. It all depends on how you use your mind to filter and process the day's events.

To a certain degree, you live in a world created by your own imagination. The objective world exists; it acts irrespective of you. The universe-as-a-whole, does not care what you think, know, believe, like or dislike. So, for example, in this universe, spiders do exist, whether you like them or not.

And in this universe, eating too much food will make you fat, whether you like it or not.

So, in one sense the world is an objective fact independent of your mind. But in other senses, the world you experience IS very much a creation of your own mind. Spiders do exist, but whether that fact makes your life a misery or not, is dependent on the actions of your own mind.

Traffic lights do exist, but whether or not that traffic light is making your life miserable is, to a degree, a function of your own mind.

Nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so.

A ride on a roller coaster can be a nightmare for some, and a source of great excitement and joy for others. The difference lies, not in the facts of the roller coaster's construction, the difference lies in the differing ways you might perceive, evaluate and respond emotionally to the roller-coaster of a planet we live on.

For you personally, is this roller-coaster-planet a source of misery, or a source of excitement?
To a large degree, the answer to that question is, "Whichever you choose".
Here is my point: your own mind: your own imagination is a tool that can work both for you, or against you.
Your imagination can make a roller coaster day feel like a nightmare or a source of great excitement and joy.

There are five ways of using your imagination

Three of these uses of the imagination will help you to experience life as a great joy. And two of them will cause you to experience life as a nightmare.

Please note the following five ways of using your imagination.

  1. Creative imagination.
  2. Logical imagination.
  3. Fearful imagination.
  4. Confidence imagination.
  5. Errors caused by filling in with your imagination any gaps in a story.

Three of the above, are good uses of the imagination and two of them are dangerous uses.

1. Creative imagination

The creative use of the imagination is the one used by, say a novelist, such as JK Rowling, or JRR Tolkien or Ian Flemming, or Walt Disney. They use their imagination to create characters and stories that bring joy to millions: and they earn millions for their creators.

How much money has been earned by the characters created by the four names above? If you added up all the money made from Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, James Bond and the Walt Disney movies, would you be able to live on it?

The point is this: Properly utilised, YOUR creative imagination could bring you riches.

2. Logical imagination

Scientific advance is often made by leaps of the logical imagination. Isaac Newton saw an apple fall from a tree and wondered if that same force of gravity could account for why the moon is held on its celestial path.

Einstein created his special theory of relativity by imagining what it would be like to be travelling on a beam of light, at the speed of 186,000 miles per second.

Einstein wrote. "Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand."

If you utilized your logical imagination to its fullest capacity, then YOU could become a genius.

3. Fear imagination

This is the first of the negative uses of the imagination to which I want to draw your attention. Many people live lives of quiet desperation, because they spend their days imagining all the terrible things that could befall them.

They live in a fog of fear, induced, not by a logical identification of the facts, but rather a hazy cloud of fearful mental images, that are endlessly churned out by the printing press in their heads.

The printing press machine keeps printing our fear-images and phrases starting with the words, "WHAT IF......." Messages, such as,

"What if I fail?". "What if they don't like me?"..
"What if it all goes wrong?". "They might laugh at me".

This is your imagination used to ruinous effect. Your imagination can kill your courage, crucify your confidence and murder your motivation. Your imagination could crush your chances of success, in all realms.

"Cowards die many times before their deaths.
The valiant never taste of death but once."

And I went one better, when I wrote:
Let not your fearful imagination bring you to despair.

4. Confidence imagination

Just as some people use their imagination to print-out mental images of failure, so others use the same machinery to print-out mental images of success and good fortune.

This is the positive use of confident imagination.

Confident people ARE confident, precisely because they have got into the mental habit of imagining that things are going to turn out well for them. They expect things to go well, because they have seen a positive result in their minds, for years.

This is a tremendous skill, because if you think you will win, then you will feel confident. And if you feel confident, you increase your chances of winning. So, consciously constructed confidence based upon the proper use of the imagination, tends to clothe itself in its corresponding outward expression.

5. Errors caused by using your imagination to fill-in the gaps in a story

This is the last of the five ways of using your imagination, and this is a negative. Here is my point:
In the absence of information, your imagination has a tendency to make stuff up.

If you don't know all the facts, then your imagination tends to "fill in the blanks" - with guesses!

If you don't know all the facts, then your imagination tends to fill in the holes in the narrative of a story until the story seems complete. But, what you forget is that the finished narrative is composed of 35% knowledge and 65% made-up imagination. But since the story is now a coherent whole, you use it as your map to understand the situation.

You soon forget that most of your map was a product of your imagination, not of the evidence, and you respond to the whole narrative as if it was 100% true. Which it is NOT.

Mind reading, guessing, using your imagination to create semi-fake stories which are 65% made up, is so common that you don't notice you are doing it.

For example: Alex imagines that Chris might be thinking that she, Alex, did not believe her when she said that she thought the boss doesn't really like Bob. Alex wonders if that might have an impact on their relationship and if it does, what will that mean for her promotion chances... and so on, and on, and on, and infinity and beyond.

This imaginative speculation and conjecturing: what I call, Making Stuff Up, is the cause of many false rumours, arguments, upsets, angst, conflicts, marital breakups and mental breakdowns.

Surely this is the destructive use of the imagination!

The antidote is to refuse to speculate.
Deal only in the facts.
Don't guess.

Sherlock Holmes Quote: "I never guess. It is a shocking habit - destructive to the logical faculty".


  • Don't make errors caused by filling in the gaps in a story.
  • Get into the habit of imagining that things are going to turn out well for you.
  • Don't live in a fog of fear, induced by an over-active panic gland.
  • Utilize your new Newtonian-imagination, eat more apples, and become a genius.
  • Develop the creative use of your imagination. Be like JK Rowling, or JRR Tolkien, Ian Fleming, or Walt Disney: Earn millions for yourself and your family.
  • And if you ever do, remember me!

About the Author: Chris Farmer


Chris Farmer is the founder of the Corporate Coach Group and has many years’ experience in training leaders and managers, in both the public and private sectors, to achieve their organisational goals, especially during tough economic times. He is also well aware of the disciplines and problems associated with running a business.

Over the years, Chris has designed and delivered thousands of training programmes and has coached and motivated many management teams, groups and individuals. His training programmes are both structured and clear, designed to help delegates organise their thinking and, wherever necessary, to improve their techniques and skills.

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