One theme that has popped up through my time in the LGP is that of imagination and dreaming. When I first began the program, I started with several questions:
- Why does my church not feel like a community?
- What is missing from my experience of church?
- Why do I feel so alone in the midst of being in one of the most densely populated places on earth?
Wonder is the spark that ignites our imagination and dreams of a different world. Simon Walker writes, “Wonder begins with an awareness and could be said to be the basis of all leadership. Awareness is our ability to perceive ourselves and others and the world as we are.”
Our journeys all begin with a variation of the thought, “I wonder…?” When we think of the Hero’s Journey, it begins with a longing, an innate pull that there’s something more outside of the hero’s bubble of existence. The hero dreams of what could be, initially not giving much thought to the trials that will stand in their way.
…but our world is not conducive to dreams. It bars our way, doing everything in its power to stop us from moving forward:
- It isn’t practical.
- It isn’t worth it.
- Your dreams don’t pay the bills.
- You’re not worthy of the journey.
- It’s been done before.
- You’ve tried before and you failed.
We’ve spoken many of times of the “imposter syndrome” – that feeling that we have no right or reason to pursue our dreams and goals. “Who am I that I should do this? I’m the wrong person for the job.” And just like that, our dreams are quashed and we find ourselves stuck in our mire of complacency.
…but the pull doesn’t go away. We can’t help but wonder, “What if…?”
What is leadership without imagination?
So in this world that isn’t conducive to wonder and imagination, what can we do?
- Read Fiction. The best place to recapture our imagination is to turn back to the stories that first captured our imagination. The canon of literature in our world is vast and stories have a way of rekindling that childish sense of wonder. When I graduated high school (all of ten years ago 😛 ), I felt my love of reading destroyed. It wasn’t until 2018 when I started to read for fun again and found my imagination reawakened.
- Write. Jotting down little thoughts and phrases throughout the day is a practice I’ve used, particularly when I go on my daily walks. A thought may occur and I’ll type it into the notes on my phone to come back to later. This helps me to make sure I don’t lose something that could be potentially important.
- Wonder with Others. Even if you aren’t a reader or a writer, conversation sparks imagination and wonder. It’s through conversation that our thoughts and dreams leave the canvas of our mind and manifest themselves in the world. Once they’re shared, they are not longer our own, but others as well. We wonder in humility, knowing there are angles we are missing and spaces that need to be filled. However, we must also be wise with whom we share, lest the cycle of dream smashing continue.
- Stay Curious. When I first began volunteering in Hong Kong, one of the best pieces of advice our trainers gave us was, “Stay curious.” Ask questions. Think and ponder. Things don’t, won’t, and may not make sense, but it never hurts to ask. We follow the Yellow Brick Road as far as it leads, but then we ask ourselves, “What’s next?”