I’m amazed that the giraffe only sleeps about thirty minutes each day with rest periods broken into six five-minute naps. The alert animal constantly grazes to discover new areas to feed because if the herd stands too long and becomes static, it risks being attacked by its main predator—the lion.
Like the giraffe, companies and employees must move forward, resting less than in past decades. That can be difficult, especially when a new technology disrupts the serene landscape we’re comfortable grazing in. I’ve learned to appreciate the act of dreaming, a useful tool when you’re dealing with significant change and a sturdy technique to keep moving forward.
Using our imaginations is a way to remain vibrant and keeps us from becoming too comfortable. It strengthens our guard and reduces our vulnerability so that we don’t become prey to lions: a rival company, a sudden layoff, or an even greater economic collapse than we experienced in 2008 during the start of the Great Recession. Dreaming mirrors a rebirth because the act replenishes and calms. By imagining, we’re participating in ongoing learning—an environment that is energizing, offers direction, and creates an urge to nurture dreams into reality.
In his 2010 article “Daydream Believer,” published in The Chronicle of Higher Education, James Seckington cautions that our last chance to dream occurs in college before we are told to “dress for adulthood.” What’s misunderstood today is that you’re hard at work while dreaming, a creative toil that often leads to original thoughts. Even in the second half of the information age, the act of dreaming often is considered childish or immature and displays a lack of taking responsibility in our lingering highly structured business settings. The irony is that without dreaming, this country wouldn’t have pioneering ideas such as putting a man on the moon or, one day, even Mars. Dreaming helps each profession advance in an increasingly complex and intersecting global economy.
Remember the 1988 movie Big? Today it’s ranked forty-second on the American Film Institute’s “100 Years…100 Laughs” list and was listed as the tenth-best film in the fantasy genre by AFI in June 2008.
Tom Hanks plays a thirteen-year-old kid, who early in the story gets his wish to become an adult. Trapped inside a thirty-one-year-old body, the boy finds a data entry job at a major toy company in New York City. The CEO is floored by the low-level employee’s unusual creativity (pure imagination has no boundaries).
Yet by the film’s conclusion, the child inside Hanks’s adult body endures intense stress and burdens rooted in dated corporate structure, boundaries, and management style. Hanks loses the child within who organically dreams, along with his unrestricted imagination that generated successful ideas for the New York City toy company.