After studying the Inventive habit again this year, I am disappointedly reminded of the many times that I stifled the creativity and imagination of my children with subtle rejections. Every time they asked me to play with them or said, “Come check out what I made,” and I had something else more important to do, I failed to celebrate play, passion, and purpose. According to Tony Wagner, in his book Creating Innovators, these super “P’s” are the ingredients to creating our next generation of great American innovators. Let’s reinvigorate our enthusiasm this week by saying “yes” to the inventive ideas of our children.
Last winter I was in my woodshop building a few gifts for family and friends. My youngest daughter was my helper, but more than helping, she wanted all of the cut off pieces of wood so that she could build her own gifts. I watched as she developed about a dozen pieces of wood into an arcade game. I didn’t think too much of it until she said that she wanted to package the whole thing and give it to our family for a gift. The look of sincerity and joy on her face was deep. When the family opened her gift on Christmas morning she was beaming with anticipation. Everyone wanted to play and she was the expert coach ready to teach them techniques to improve their skill. I didn’t realize how a handful of wood pieces could captivate and motivate an 8 year old girl. At the time I almost told her to put the pieces into our burn box for kindling. Fortunately, I pressed the “paus-itivity” button and allowed her to play.
The simplicity of imagination and inventiveness in a child is one of the most pure and unadulterated forms of thinking we ever experience. Cultivating this thinking can empower and ignite our world’s greatest innovators. Squelching it can lead to mediocrity, boredom, and a false belief that a child has little purpose in life.
“It does seem to produce more creative results when there are limitations. It’s like in wartime with rations – people became more inventive with cooking.” – Laura Fraser
“Imagination is the highest kite one can fly.” – Lauren Bacall
“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.” – Mark Twain
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