Does Knowledge Lessen Your Imagination?

When I was a kid, my brothers and I created a theme park. Actually is wasn’t quite a theme park, it was sort of a sandbox, but I’ll explain…

I think it started as an un-manicured part of our backyard that was covered in rocks and dirt. One of those areas that you’re not quite sure what to do with. Too small for a plot of grass, but too big for a garden (especially for a family who wouldn’t know how to make a garden in the first place).

My brothers and I loved playing in the dirt, and when my parents saw this they came up with a great idea to turn it into our very own jungle gym.

They bought a slide, built a swing set, and dumped tons of sand to cover the rocky ground. What had been the messy part of the yard had become an awesome playground.

Thanks to a lively childhood imagination, my brothers and I would bring out the hose, spray down the sand, and create a muddy wonderland.

Long before mud runs were all the rage we had the dream of creating our own sandy/mud theme park. We talked about opening the park to kids from all across the world to enjoy rides such as the “chocolate milk mountain” (a sand mound that when covered in water, flowed muddy liquid that resembled chocolate milk).

In our minds the mud land had potential to become the next Disneyland. Oh to be a child…

These days I think differently when it comes to building my own muddy theme park. I get too focused on the facts and figures needed to make something like that happen. My mind gets too jumbled by something like the cost of the water needed operate chocolate milk mountain.

When I was 8 and dreamt of starting a theme park I had no clue about admission prices, profit margins or marketing plan. I didn’t know a pie chart from a pumpkin pie.

Now that I know that information, it seems like I have less imagination. Why is that?

After giving it some thought, I think I have come with an explanation.

Although my example makes it seem like knowledge lessens your imagination, that isn’t true.

Knowledge simply gives you more ways to find excuses.

As an 8 year old, my thinking would go something along the lines of, “we should totally make a theme park covered in mud! Kids like mud and they like theme parks, it would be the best of both worlds!”

Now my thinking is something like, “sure kids like mud, but do you know what kind of overhead a theme park must have?”

I used to not know a thing about business, so those details didn’t get in the way of creating a mud theme park.

The business knowledge I’ve learned throughout the years should have nothing to do with my imagination. I can still dream about a mud land just as well as when I was young.

The only problem is there used to be a time when I didn’t let details get in the way of my imagination, but now I use them as an excuse.

Have you experienced something similar? Have you envisioned a business idea, book series or cool new product only to shoot it down with excuses disguised as details?

Knowledge is great, but don’t use it to find excuses.

Keep your imagination big and your excuses small.



(Photo credit: Wikipedia)