Indulge Your Imagination

by Gilda Bonanno

"Indulge your imagination in every possible flight." - Jane Austen

Great advice from one of my favorite authors! What would happen if you actually indulged your imagination? Or if you actually allowed your mind to be free to consider all the possibilities rather than immediately coming up with reasons why your ideas will not work?

There is a concept in improv comedy called "Yes And." It means that when another performer "makes an offer" by declaring something, you should respond by accepting that offer and building on it in the spirit of "Yes And" rather than denying it. For example, if the other person says, "here we are in Paris," and you respond with "no, we're in London," the scene doesn't advance. Instead, if you respond with, "yes and I love all this French wine," you have helped to move that scene forward.

"Yes And" can be a very helpful concept to use when indulging your imagination or participating in brainstorming at work. If the goal is to generate new ideas and solutions, it helps to allow or require people to respond to ideas only with "yes and here's how can we make that work..." Otherwise, the automatic response often will be "no, that can't work" or "yes, but" which is the same as "no."

You want to indulge the imagination and pursue the art of the possible - then later you can cull the ideas and subject them to a reality check. Most great ideas start out as wildly improbable, "crazy" flights of the imagination.

Gilda Bonanno's blog