What ever happened to imagination?

When did creativity become such serious business?

It seems like just yesterday we were drawing outside of the lines of our favorite coloring books, or smashing the square peg into the triangle hole, or using our imaginations to be warriors or princesses.

Then we grow up and our imaginations are put away. Our entire mentality around creativity goes from “having fun” to “do the work” almost overnight. And we can’t really be that upset about it, I suppose, because the serious work is what makes money and pays the bills. The straight‒faced report filing and keyboard clickity‒clacking is what justifies our jobs to our bosses.

But there’s a problem with this serious approach to living, particularly for those of us who are more artistically or creatively inclined.

The problem is that creativity requires some level of fun to be fruitful. When was the last time you had an insightful, creative idea for how to be innovative with your work while you were forced to wear a tie and simply nod your head?

Being able to have fun with your work makes it easier to take criticism and feedback (which is essentially for gaining insightful perspectives that you otherwise wouldn’t see). Having fun lessens the pressure to “get things perfect” and increases the odds of you actually creating something. Having fun fuelsinnovation in nearly everything you do.

So what happened to having fun with our work? When did we stop deciding to use our imaginations for fueling innovation in the work we do – and to inspire others, and to discover new possibilities, and to make us feel successful – and instead started using our imaginations for clever ways to fall in line?

If we’re not proposing game ideas in the office, or filing reports with pictures of ourselves as knights or princesses, or if we forget to make a fun activity out of an otherwise boring meeting… what are we doing with our imaginations anymore?

Today, let’s find fun in what we do again. Let’s use the same creativity we did when we were young. Let’s make the office or school or cafe into a castle or forest and see what we can find.

Photo by Hiperterminal.