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Something I’ve long taught my coaching clients is that you can’t create what you can’t imagine.
I recently learned some fascinating brain science research that seems to suggest too that you can’t imagine what you can’t REMEMBER. << My overly simplistic version but keep reading to see that it’s not all that far-fetched, and why it matters!
Let me explain.
First, memory recall, across the board, is very inaccurate and therefore very unreliable. This is true across all ages. The evidence is abundant that your memory, and mine, is weak at best. From witness identification errors, to recalling personal circumstances of past experiences. It’s been widely documented that most memories are totally erroneous despite the fact that people believe they are remembering accurately.
Bottom line: When it comes to memory recall, inaccuracies are consistent.
This begs the question: If memory is so unreliable and inaccurate, what then is the evolutionary purpose of memory?
Scientists have wondered, if it’s not for the value of accurate recall, what is memory FOR?
Another important discovery: Those with memory disorders (whether due to a traumatic brain injury, or Alzheimer’s, or brain surgery where part of the brain was removed or impacted in a way that caused significant memory loss) … these folks don’t only have trouble recalling the past, they ALSO have tremendous difficulty imagining the future!
This fascinating fact has led scientists to a new theory about the evolutionary purpose of memory: That memory’s evolutionary life-sustaining purpose is less about accurate recall and more about how the function of memories enables and supports the ability to imagine the future.
Ok. Here’s where all these dots connect in my mind:
As someone whose entire educational foundation, extensive experience, and decades-long career has been centered around psychology, human behavior, and systems change … this brain science theory makes a whole lot of sense to me!
Here’s one way to think about it:
Imagining the future is a bit like painting a picture.
“Paint me the picture of what you would like your life to be. Help me see it with you.” << This is something I often ask my clients to do, so that I can see, imagine, delight in, and ultimately help them move forward to CREATE their desired future.
But – what if you were asked to paint a picture and you only had blue and black to paint it with?
How vivid a painting could you paint with just that limited palate?
Not very, amiright?
So … circling back to my opening statement that you can’t create what you can’t imagine, let’s break it down:
You can’t create what you can’t “see”.
And you can’t see what you can’t imagine.
And, perhaps too, you can’t imagine what you can’t remember…in the sense that memory serves as the palate you draw from, and therefore can create from.
The science suggests that memories support imagining!
And you know what imagining supports? Innovation.
Your memory therefore supports – or limits – your ability to design your future, to innovate about what’s possible.
Isn’t that fascinating?
THIS is why when a client comes to me feeling uncertain about what they want in their life and the picture of their desired future feels blurry and vague, a great place we often start is: remembering.
Drawing from your PAST, from your life experience, you have decades of recall opportunities about what you want to create, design, and experience going forward.
As you imagine, and reimagine, your future, a great place to start is to recall what has been fun, luscious, joyful, dynamic, nourishing, life-enhancing, and pleasure-filled from your past — be it 5 minutes ago, or when you were 5.
The science suggests that the more you are able to pull from what’s stored in your memory, the more colorful, luscious, and dynamic your future can be!
This is just one piece of what we unpack together in my 6-week No-Vacation-Needed Blueprint Training – enrolling now for just $197.
Let’s reimagine together.