The Power of Imagination: And That is Why You Fail

I recently went to an incredibly helpful workshop called: “Mastering Time Management,” presented by Lisa Danforth.  At the beginning of the workshop we were asked to write down ‘life’ goals, followed by goals for 2018.  I found both of these really challenging. Next came writing our nine-month goals, followed thereafter by our three-month goals.  Finally (I don’t know how I didn’t see this coming), one-month goals were required.

I found writing down what I wanted to achieve over the next few weeks or months much less anxiety causing. These goals were smaller (not less difficult), but I believed I could do them (like cold-calling 3 new elementary schools to pitch my workshop).  I’ve always considered myself a ‘big picture’ kind of person. But trying to envision what I wanted to accomplish by the end of the year, or even five or ten years out, was grainy and hard to bring into focus. (like being on stage at a TEDTALK, speaking to a live audience about how resilience can be created through emotional intelligence).  “I could be fatigued.” I thought.  But the Big Picture goals were presented at the beginning of the workshop, so that couldn’t be it.

As I was driving home, I pulled on my grey matter a bit, trying to imagine giving that TEDTALK in the future. As my brain fuzziness grew, I realized my ability to imagine something I considered ‘BIG’ in the distant future for myself was wanting. “This is ridiculous,” I thought.  “I mean really…it’s one thing to know I’m going to make a few uncomfortable calls in the next couple weeks, but how can I imagine what I’m capable of accomplishing years down the road… isn’t that really just day dreaming?

Yet, how many times have I imagined how a race would go; from the days and weeks of training all the way through how it would feel to cross the finish line? How it would feel to see patients in my own office as an acupuncturist, within the first few weeks of my Master’s Program?  Seems I was quite able of visualizing on a grander scale for some things, but my fear was running ‘emotional static’ over my imagination the minute I went beyond my workshops for kids and tried imagining speaking engagements in front of halls filled with educators, parents, and child-development specialists.  It just seemed either too far away, or too big.

I thought of a scene from one of my favorite sci-fi flicks: “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back” (I realize there is a great deal of Star Wars fans out there – let me just be clear… this WILL NOT be a perfect ‘blow by blow’ recap of what transpired between Yoda and his young Padawan 😊)

Yoda, the lovable, little, green, Jedi Master watches on with a very young Luke Skywalker as Luke’s ship sinks farther into the swamp.

 Luke – We’ll never get it out now.

Yoda not looking too inspired by his ‘apprentices’ response.

Yoda – So certain are you.

Luke – Master, moving stones around is one thing, but this is totally different.

Yoda – No! Only different in your mind.

Luke – Alright, I’ll give it a try.

Yoda basically wondering why he even tried teaching this kid anything.

Yoda – No, try not! Do or do not, there is no try…

Luke gives it a shot. Puts out a hand, closes his eyes, and ‘tries’ to use the Force.  The ship moves a little, but Luke’s doubt grows.  The ship sinks back into the swamp even deeper.

Luke – (breathing heavy) I can’t, it’s too big…

Yoda – Size matters not.

Yoda gives Luke a bit of a lesson on what the Force is, how it’s in and between everything. Even between himself and something as big as his ship.  Luke (like most unseasoned apprentices) walks off, discouraged –

Luke – You want the impossible.

At this point Yoda has had it with Luke. Yoda goes over to a spot on the beach, closes his eyes, raises his hand, and moves the ship out of the water like it was make of paper, placing it on dry land.  Luke, dumbfounded, actually touches his ship, to make sure it’s ‘real.’  He heads over to his little green master all wide eyed.

Luke – I don’t believe it!

Yoda – And that is why you fail.

When we suspend our disbeliefs, allow for the possibility of the impossible (no matter how improbable), our imagination is allowed to create the very building blocks of everything that we manifest in our external reality. At the workshop we were being asked to use our imaginations to have a say over what we want to create, not just in our immediate or near future, but for our lives.  To really envision the Reality we wanted to create for ourselves over time.

I finally connected what Lisa was saying in the workshop to the point Yoda was making with Luke: when we give ourselves permission to dream, and we truly believe in what our imagination is showing us, we bring the energy of those external people, situations, and events that support what we believe closer and closer to us.

I’m going to take some time today to sit down and go over my notes, and think about the goals that I would like to reach for in 2018. But, more importantly than just writing down what it is I would like to accomplish, I will close my eyes and create a world using all of my internal senses, solely out of my imagination.  A loud ovation that greets me as I come out to speak, the metallic feel of the mic as I pull it out of the stand, the quieting down of an auditorium that drips with anticipation for the very first words I’ve used before every talk that I’ve ever given on building resilience through emotional intelligence…

“How is everyone feeling?”

I will then bring myself back to my desk, and begin putting in the work to make what I have imagined real in my external environment. Thank you, Yoda, for reminding me that the size does not matter when it comes to my imagination.  It is only different in my mind.

I’ve love to hear about the space-ship-sized dream you’ve stashed away in the swamp of your imagination, or one that you’ve achieved! Share it in the comments below.  😊