A lot can be said about the exuberance, enthusiasm and passion of youth, particularly as it pertains to work and creativity. In the early stages of our work lives, we get excited by the prospects of what could be, of where we can go, of what we are hopeful to accomplish, without being influenced by the frequently negative realities that we eventually see as we get older. That unfiltered outlook of what could be has been the starting point for the launching of many businesses, goods and technologies that today have world-wide name recognition, and products that have become part of our daily lives. If you dive into the histories of almost every modern business success story, you’ll hear that the founders pursued their dreams because what they conceived hadn’t been done before, and they didn’t know – or didn’t consider – the hurdles they would face along the way. The why not of their conceptions never entered their minds allowing them to forge ahead in pursuit of “the next big thing.”
Whether they are ultimately called “inventors,” “creators,” “makers” or “disruptors,” more often than not, early on in their pursuits they are considered to be nothing more than dreamers. Too commonly, those without the insight or understanding into others’ ideas snub their noses and look down upon those who dream big ideas.
As a society, do we nurture creativity enough?
No! Not nearly enough!
Do we start cultivating and exploring young people’s imaginations so that they dream big ideas?
Sometimes, but again, not often enough!
Do we (continue to) support the development of new and innovative ideas from those who have been around the block a few times?
Not all big ideas come from 20-somethings. Some inventors don’t hit their stride until they are in their 60’s.
Do we give a fair shake to those who have failed in earlier creative endeavors? Corporations are far less favorable to failure than those working alone. I’m not sure any employer would have waited while Thomas Edison made one thousand attempts before getting the light bulb to work.
Dreamers and creators are, among other things, brave. They have to be tenacious and a bit thick-skinned to cope with the derision and negativity they frequently face from nay-sayers and others less enlightened. It can’t be easy when so many people side-eye creators because of their own shortsightedness. Original thinkers too often face disparagement, rudeness, exclusion and worse as they attempt to bring their dreams to fruition. But when they are successful, even if their creations aren’t lauded in their lifetimes, they leave a legacy for others to learn from, build upon and expand.
So how do we foster creativity in those who want to build the future?
Among other things, it starts by being receptive, recognizing and nurturing young people when they show an affinity for thinking outside the box, for seeing things in different ways and presenting ideas that are different from the norm. Giving young people access to the tools and technologies that will enable them to purse their dreams is also a big part of the equation. And today, more than ever before, high schools, colleges and universities are offering programs that encourage creativity as well as entrepreneurship to provide the business foundation for turning their big dreams into bigger realities.
Keep in mind that forty years ago or so, before personal computers were necessary household appliances, before anyone heard of the internet, before file sharing, ride sharing, smart phones, digital cameras, etc., inventors’ big dreams created revolutions that influenced the way we do things today. Arguably, these inventions made life easier, and some enabled other creators to be more creative using new kinds of tools in inspired new ways.
If we continue to encourage – dare I say indulge the whimsy and fantasy from which creative ideas flow – who knows what the next big thing will be or where it will come from? Whether completely original or an advancement to something that already exists, tomorrow’s creators and disruptors need to be encouraged and remain inspired by what is possible without limits. Already on the horizon are new drugs for treating Alzheimer’s and dementia, headlights that adjust their brightness based the amount of light from oncoming vehicles; more natural looking and moving artificial limbs; economical fuel cell batteries; products with better recycling than plastics and better recycling of plastics; contact lenses that measure blood sugar levels. These technologies may not be ready for prime time, yet, but they are being extensively pursued by dreamers with insight and fortitude, and will be part of our lives down the road.
And let’s not rudely forget the artists in all medium! There are those who create art for the pure heartfelt passion of making something from nothing working often from the most fleeting inspiration. And there are those who create in hopes of having their efforts impact those who see it and interact with it, and hoping their creations are profitable. There are also those who use their artistic talents and instincts to create packaging, brochures, advertising, and so much more, and do it while earning a regular income in a corporate setting. Consciously and unconsciously we interact with creations for print, music, audio streaming, film, television, v-blogs, digital media daily as the arts are so much an intertwined part of our lives. Artists could be the biggest dreamers of all!
Whether they are working on the Next Big Thing or how to better use and/or reuse what we already have (again, in all medium), if you know someone with a driving creative spirit, no matter their age, pat them on the back, encourage them with a “way to go!” and listen when they tell you what they are working on. Their efforts might wind up making your world a better place. So, without hesitation, let’s hear it for the dreamers!
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