Good News Week

Written on the 11 April 2013 by Dr Christine O'Connor

Will you join me in making this a good news week, month, quarter, half-year, year? If so, let’s start by harnessing a great treasure we all possess-our imaginations-to find our way through the myriad challenges that beset our lives at this time. All of the extraordinary feats of humankind are testament to the human imagination: the survival and thriving of indigenous populations for over 40 000 years in harsh environments; the anti-slavery movement; the many people living with disabilities and achieving success; the invention of the wheel, printing press, electricity, telephone, introduction of antibiotics, space travel, and technology unimaginable just 50 years ago.  Not to mention the numerous extraordinary feats carried out by ordinary citizens to rescue people trapped by floods, fire, storms and accidents.

None of these feats could have been achieved without the ability to conceive or imagine what did not exist at the time.Indeed, the concept of imagination may seem an unlikely choice for a business magazine, but it is entirely relevant given present media reports are dominated by fear and uncertainty about the current state of global business markets and the economy and anxiety is defined as fear about the future. Currently, many of us are anxious about the future: we are anxious about keeping our businesses afloat, paying our bills, feeding our families and keeping our jobs. Facing the unknown is challenging but imagination is a priceless antidote for anxiety. Imagination is freely available for each of us to fuel our creativity and inspires us to search for destinations and solutions not yet discovered.

To create good news alternatives we need to wholeheartedly reject the temptation to collude in the collective paralysis of fear-related inaction and indecision that is currently contagious throughout our nation. Indigenous leaders of the past had to boldly look towards the horizon with unwavering determination and commitment to meet the challenges of their environment. The innovative ways they interacted with their surroundings to obtain food and shelter required imagination to sustain them against the elements of wind, fire, rain, cold and heat.

Harriet Tubman, an African American slave, required the ability to imagine freedom before she could conceive the idea of leading over 300 slaves to liberty from the ‘deep south’ of America during the mid-1800s. This illiterate, uneducated, black woman aged only 29 years, escaped on foot by following the North Star by night and hiding by day. Not content to be free, Harriet returned 19 times to the South to assist other slaves to freedom. She was often cold, hungry, at risk of punishment by death if she was caught and had a considerable bounty on her head-yet she continued to imagine freedom was possible. A remarkable and little known woman born to slavery, allowed herself to imagine what was beyond her present situation.  Harriet dared to dream and to believe passionately in possibilities that seemed utterly unattainable. She applied herself to the very real challenges she faced in her precarious undertakings. Harriet needed commitment and planning for the task at hand; steely resolve and determination to bear the hardships and daily dangers she faced; ingenuity and inventiveness to outsmart the slave-hunters and extraordinary courage and perseverance to stare down the many tribulations that beset her.

While the challenges of our community are different to what Harriet Tubman faced, her example is a timely guide for us. Just as she followed the North Star to freedom and safety, we can use the same qualities of imagination, courage, determination, ingenuity and inventiveness to overcome and stare down the pressures of our current business climate in order to create and implement new ways of doing business and keeping our jobs.

Without imagination nothing can change. Without audacity, courage and daring, imagination cannot birth new promise. Without failure, imagination has no melting pot. Without unfaltering commitment to doing the task at hand to achieve the impossible, imagination has no life.  Today, we may not bring people to freedom or achieve the glory of the famous, but we are no less endowed with imagination that enables us to soar above and beyond the difficulties and problems of our day.

To help cultivate and develop your imagination allow your mind to wander, gaze with awe at nature, take detours and daydream. Never assume there is only one answer to any problem. Become more abstract and be watchful for possibilities; accept the invitation to move out of your comfort zone and learn to read the signs so you can see beyond the familiar. Relinquish trying to control everything and allow things to flow more often. Welcome failure which-when refined and overhauled-may achieve life-changing success.  Go ahead and finish the sentence: Imagine if.......

Copyright Zoom in Business 2013

Author: Dr Christine O'Connor