The man who has no imagination has no wings.

The man who has no imagination has no wings. – Muhammad Ali

A photo from the Smithsonian collection, of the first flight at Kitty Hawk. Their imagination gave them wings. An engine helped get them off the ground and into the history books. Where will your imagination take you?

What does that mean?
To me, this quote is all about possibility. If you can’t imagine it, how are you ever going to actually do it? Imagination is all about seeing the possibilities when all the others can see is are problems. Imagination is needed before you can do great things.

The wings in the quote are all about the action one takes on what they see in their imagination. Once you have imagined something you can get started on making it happen. However, if you can’t imagine something, you’re not going to fly off and start doing it.

I presume the quote means the imagination of something fairly practical, and not too crazy. The problem with that statement is the lack of a common definition of crazy. The idea of a blind guy climbing Mount Everest sounds crazy, but Erik Weihenmayer imagined doing it.

He used his imagine to give him the motivation to take action and attempt (and he succeed). In short, his imagination gave him the wings needed to get from where he was to where he imagined he could be. Where can your imagination take you, if you let it?

Why is imagination important?  
Imagination is what lights a fire within us, it’s what, in the words of the quote, gives us wings. With a little imagination, almost anything is possible. With too much imagination, not a lot gets done. The trick is to find the sweet spot between stick-in-the-mud and day-dreamer.

And then there is the ‘crazy’ aspect. The Wright brothers didn’t think they were crazy. They had approached the idea of powered flight from multiple angles (bicycling, kites, small engines, aerodynamics, experimentation and so much more). Others might have thought so, but they weren’t.

Erik climbing any mountain, much less the world’s tallest sounds crazy to us. However, I imagine if we knew the guy, and saw what he was doing to prepare and train for the effort, we would probably see it as a fairly sane and probably successful venture.

Where can I apply this in my life?
Well, how much imagination do you have? This is another “Goldilocks” situation, where you don’t want too much, nor too little, but just the right amount. Unfortunately, the sweet spot is different for everyone, so you will have to figure out what is the right amount for you.

What if you need a little more imagination? While this isn’t my problem, I know people who have helped themselves be a little more creative by letting their minds drift. Quiet days with pleasant surroundings seem to have worked best for them.

What if you need a little less imagination? That’s my primary difficulty in life. I have a difficult time maintaining focus, so that’s what I work on. If (like now) I’m hungry for a cookie, I promise myself I can have one, but not until after I finish the blog post. That helps me stay focused, well, at least on the cookie.

Targeting your imagination might be something to consider. What are some of the things that really get you excited? Do you like sports? Watching or playing? What can you imagine doing? If sports isn’t your thing, perhaps books are. Is there a book or series you’re really looking forward to reading? Or do you have an idea for writing one?

Take a moment and think of some of the things that really get you excited, that really give you wings. What can you do to try to get there from here? For me, playing football has always been one of those things. Given my age and physical condition (or complete lack thereof), Fantasy Football Camp is probably the best I can hope for. How about you? Got any ideas?

Let your imagination run wild for a little bit, focusing on each idea in turn. You might want to take notes if you stumble on a great idea. When you’ve played with the various ideas and the possibilities your imagination can come up with, select the one on which you want to start.

Grab some paper (if you haven’t already) and write down the idea, and then write down the top few possibilities. For me and football, they include the Fantasy Football Camps run by the NFL, as well as a local adult league of Flag Football. What are some of your ideas?

If you haven’t already done the research, select one of the ideas and hit the web, the phone book, or your friends, and start to refine your ideas. Will you need more time, more money, both, neither? Only one way to find out.

Your imagination has given you wings. Fly as far as you can, as far as you dare, then assess the situation. Imagine your next step and fly some more. The sky is the limit.

From: Twitter, @Sports_Greats
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