Doers and Dreamers

by Vicki on June 14, 2013

He’s a daydreamer. Always lost in his thoughts.

She isn’t very focused. She can’t seem to get out of her own head.

He never stays on task.

She’s always trying to re-invent the wheel.

I’m just going to sit here and think on this for a little bit.

What?! You are going to sit and think? There are things that need to be accomplished, projects to complete, and tasks to fill!

I was listening to a podcast recently that touched briefly on the notion of imagination and ideas. The gist of the conversation was that our society has been structured to make us effective doers. In school we learn how to do math, how to write, how to memorize, how to regurgitate what we have encoded. “Doing” is what is rewarded monetarily and what tends to be celebrated in our culture (e.g., How many widgets did you make today? How many hours did you sit at your desk?). The connotations around notions of “daydreaming” and sitting and thinking are often negative and associated with time wasting and lack of accomplishment.

But the fact of the matter is that every single thing we have – in our homes, in our offices, in our lives – would not exist without the imaginers and the daydreamers. Before each and every item could be created (by the doers of course!) it had to be imagined.

Since hearing this podcast, some thoughts I’ve been mulling over include:

  • Should daydreaming and imagination be fostered in schools? If so, how?
  • The importance of daydreaming/imagining in helping us solve some of the world’s big ugly problems (e.g., war, hunger, homelessness, failing/outdated systems)
  • How daydreaming might be harnessed to make us better thinkers and learners overall (Here is an interesting post on this topic)
  • Differences between thinking and imagining
  • Is our ability to imagine more a function of nature or nurture (or the interaction of both)?
  • If you stink at imagining and daydreaming, how can you get better at it?
  • How is the ability to imagine and daydream related to states of being or consciousness (e.g., being relaxed, tense, open)?
  • What is the optimal balance between daydreaming and doing?

Even though the discussion on the podcast was brief, it really left an impression on me. I encourage you to think through your ideas on imagination and daydreaming.

Are you a daydreamer? Your children? Your team? How can you harness the power of daydreaming in your life? Your organization?

Happy daydreaming!

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