photo courtesy http://www.flickr.com/photos/jckhamken
post by Mitch W. Steel
Here’s a quote I’m rather fond of… It rephrases the age old proverb, “necessity is the mother of invention” to “necessity isn’t the mother of invention – invention is.”
Napoleon Hill wrote the all-time classic personal development book, Think and Grow Rich. The book is based on his 20-year study of the greatest minds of his time, including Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. He discovered from this exercise that there human creativity took basically two different forms – synthetic imagination and creative vision.
Synthetic imagination joins your pre-existing ideas, your concepts and your products and transforms them into something completely different, into a completely new form or a new, unanticipated solution to a problem. Very little of what is created today is absolutely original – from scratch, if you will. In fact, many of our greatest inventions are based upon the concept of synthetic imagination. Perhaps that is what Isaac Newton said when he attributed his greatest discoveries to the ability to “stand on the shoulders of giants.”
Really when you consider it further necessity, in reality, is the GRANDMOTHER of invention.
For example, the garbage can. Yes, the lowly, smelly garbage can. The original intent of the garbage can was to have a receptacle to place the garbage collected during the course of a week in your household. A simple enough need.
Soon, the garbage bag was invented. One invention – the garbage can – spawned yet another invention, the garbage BAG. This, in a nutshell, is synthetic imagination. In other words, this is simply a creative way to combine two pre-existing ideas or inventions.
The second type of creativity is creative vision.
A good way to look at this is to think of creative vision as dialing directly into your creative source. This is what Napoleon Hill called your “infinite intelligence.” You might refer to this as God.
In essence, it’s your intuition. It’s the way the infinite intelligence or God gives us our hunches and our “inspirations.”
Hill had a great story involving Thomas Edison in which the famous inventor, known for his relentless pursuit of the light bulb, uses both creative vision and synthetic imagination. Edison was well known for the many cat naps which he took throughout the day. What is not so well known, is how he used these to his creative advantage.
When Edison was tired and frustrated by the day’s “failures” at not having discovered the best method of creating this invention, he would nap. But before falling asleep, he formed in his mind a clear view of the problem he was currently facing. As he wakes from his nap, in that limbo-like peaceful state before he’s fully awake, he realizes the solution to the problem. The light bulb, in order to function, must be placed in a vacuum.
The vacuum was indeed the only environment that would prevent the immediate burn out of the wire as well as prevent any electrocution. His thoughts immediately jumped to charcoal. He recalled images of charcoal covered with dirt and of course subconsciously realized they burned much more slowly than the rest. In fact, it was that realization – coming out of his nap which his subconscious was trying to share with him. Limit the oxygen and the filiment that illuminates the lightbulb will not burn out so quickly!
You don’t always need to use your creative vision and bring something as momentous to the world as the light bulb. More often than not, synthetic imagination becomes the vehicle to success.
All you really need to do is combine two ideas that are already pretty darn good on their own. Just look at the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. If you’re old enough, you probably even remember the initial commercial which introduced the product to us. One person walked along the street, totally absorbed in his chocolate candy bar. Walking in the opposite direction came another individual, equally absorbed in his peanut butter.
BAM! They walked right into each other. The candy bar crashed right into the jar of peanut butter. A new taste treat was born!
Just look at the evolution of the cell phone. Once the original phone was invented, synthetic imagination took over to create an evolution of the gadget none of us can now seem to live without. Other technologies fueled by synthetic imagination include Google, Myspace, Facebook to name just a few. New goods and services are created every day using existing technology in a new and innovative way.
Don’t think for a moment that synthetic imagination or even creative imagination is the realm of a chosen few.
Be sure to share cool examples of either creative vision or synthetic imagination and ways they’ve created value for others and / or affected your life. These examples will help everyone (readership) recognize the true path to success begins with creativity and hopefully inspire them to create!
Thanks again… until next time