In his previous articles, RAVI VENKATESAN outlined four key aspects of the “inner state” that we want to fine-tune to become Heartful Innovators. He explored the role of the Intellect, Ego, Mind, and Awareness, and their transformation in enabling innovation. He also covered ways to overcome barriers to innovation, like stress, fear, uncertainty, and doubt, collectively known as FUD. In this article, he explores the role of a couple of key enablers of innovation – imagination and courage.
3 Ways to Overcome Mental Obstacles
In his series on Yogic Psychology, Daaji describes imagination as follows: “Imagination is a very important mental faculty with which we form and create new ideas, images and concepts that cannot always be verified by pramana. It is necessary for creativity, innovation and discovery, but it can also lead us into a spiral of delusion.”
The Sanskrit word “pramana” means proof. So, in essence, imagination gives us access to envision something that doesn’t yet exist and cannot be proven or verified.
I have always found it very interesting that many innovations seem to appear first in science fiction before making their appearance in real life. For example, an iPad-like device was shown in Star Trek decades before such devices became a reality. Ironically, we make it up first, and then we make it a reality.
Like many of our capacities, imagination can be a double-edged sword. As a kid I used to have the bad habit of compulsively making up things and lying. I remember telling a grand-aunt an elaborate tale about a machine that would automatically make all kinds of food and serve it. All of it was made up. This caused my parents a lot of worry and they tried correcting me through various means. Eventually, someone advised them that I may just have a hyper-imaginative mind and they should encourage me to write stories to channel this. That idea helped a lot. Later I started composing music, and this was another channel.
The point is, especially for innovation, this mental faculty of imagination can be very useful, however, it can also go wrong. As with most things, to use it effectively we need to regulate the mind so that capacities can be channeled in the right direction.
Heartfulness Meditation is a wonderful tool to accomplish this.
Describing the importance of imagination, Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.”
Describing the importance of imagination,
Einstein said, “Imagination is
more important than knowledge.
For knowledge is limited,
whereas imagination embraces the entire world,
giving birth to evolution.”
Courage is another aspect to explore. Courage builds the bridge from idea to execution. If we have a sufficiently-evolved imagination, then ideas will come. To take the next step from idea to execution requires courage. Again, just like imagination, courage has a dark side, which is recklessness. When courage is not refined and regulated, it can lead a person to take excessive risks, to gamble, or worse, to do things that have negative consequences for society at large. Think about every dictator and conqueror in history. They were no doubt courageous, but their courage unchecked led to horrific actions.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that almost every significant innovation has required a lot of courage on the part of the innovator. Think about Ford deciding to build the Model T in 1909, making cars commonplace. Think about Elon Musk wanting to send humans to Mars, creating a company that could lead the market for space transportation, something only large government-sponsored organizations had done before.
The most important role courage plays in innovation is not overcoming the fear of failure, which of course it does, but overcoming the fear of criticism, which in many cases is a greater fear.
To make this real, try the following:
If you can develop this muscle, you have taken another important step toward becoming a Heartful Innovator!
Article by RAVI VENKATESAN
Ravi lives in Atlanta, Georgia, and is currently the Chief Technology Officer at Cantaloupe. He is also a regular public speaker and public speaking coach. He has been a Heartfulness meditator for over 20 years and is passionate about applying meditation lessons to improve workplace relationships and productivity.