Welcome to the online home of Timothy Willard, writer, author, speaker, and storyteller.

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How Imagination is Essential to Dynamic Living

How Imagination is Essential to Dynamic Living

Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine, and at last you create what you will.
— George Bernard Shaw

Mel McGowan is President and Founder of Visioneering Studios, a national architecture, urban planning, and interior design firm with offices in Irvine, Denver, and Atlanta. His background includes film, urban design, and a decade-long stint with the Walt Disney Company. Mel speaks extensively on sustainable Christ-centered community and is the author of Design Like God Gives a Damn: Revolutionizing Sacred Space.

The good folks over at Bearings interviewed Mel about how the imagination is essential to dynamic living. Here's some of that interview.


There are two big ideas to understand related to imagination and how it should be an essential part of each of our lives: 

First, a lot of people think that they aren’t creative, and therefore, they limit their own imaginations. It really doesn’t have to be that complicated. You simply take any kind of raw material and turn it into something beautiful and useful – whatever that may be in your own world and with your abilities.  

Walt Disney was really about the synthesis of ideas – he created a collective art form. Instead of starting from scratch, often his imagination created something new built on existing elements, places or ideas. He took the idea of a village and transformed his movies into three-dimensional experiences.

Second, we should always look for a bigger canvas. Disney took the comic strip to a motion picture; black and white to color; silence to sound; short form to long form with the first feature-length animation; then film to the three dimensional theme park. At the end of his life he wanted to take that into the urban city planning. What’s something in your life that you can enhance onto a bigger canvas?

There are some practical principles and tips we can put back into the rhythm of our daily lives to foster more imagination on a personal and professional level:

  • Live with constant curiosity.
  • Always ask questions and explore.
  • Never assume you’re the head of the pack.
  • Look for ways to take something to the next level.
  • Have a vision.
  • Remember that you’re a storyteller – your life is a story you’re writing.
  • Combining ideas often creates some of the best inventions.
  • Expose yourself to art and other disciplines that will challenge you.
  • Be a co-creator; partner with people who will push you to see things differently.

In the Old World, we taught through apprenticeships, and we learned to be creative, to be curious, to explore. Then during the Industrial Revolution, we began to teach and prepare a workforce for the assembly line. Today, standardized testing also shapes and influences us a lot in this area. Unless you’re studying art, many people aren’t being encouraged to think differently and expand the bounds of possibility.

We have to learn to tap into our imaginations again – like when we were children and thought anything could be done. If you’re ever bored, you’re failing – there is too much possibility out there to not imagine something better than what you already know.

Watch Mel's Q Talk

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Being Here: A Short Film on the Wildness of Your Soul

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