Have we lost the art of imagination?

YEARS ago, we reported on a self-made millionaire who lamented that Australians had lost the art of dreaming big.

Peter J. Daniels, a man who once paid $1 million to speak for 15 minutes, had an inspirational tale to tell.

He made millions through real estate and other business interests around the world after transforming himself from being an illiterate bricklayer's assistant from a third generation welfare family.

Mr Daniels had four fathers and two mothers during his upbringing but says his life was turned around after he read thousands of biographies of successful people to find out for himself "what makes the great great''.

He was rated by The Power of Positive Thinking author Norman Vincent Pearle as the 'best platform speaker in the world'.

Mr Daniels, who has lectured to an audience of 31,000 CEOs of major international organisations, said it was time for Australians to dream again and create their own opportunities rather than waiting for the government to solve their problems.

"What we need to do is to dream. People can take everything away from you but they can't take away your dream.''

Fast forward four years and it seems the message is still just as relevant.

According to new research, Australians perceive that the nation is in a state of decline when it comes to thinking imaginatively.

Have we lost the art of imagination? Image: Canon
Have we lost the art of imagination? Image: Canon

The nationwide study, conducted by independent research consultancy Decibel Research on behalf of Canon Australia, found that less than half (46%) of all respondents think Australia is an imaginative nation, where only two in five (39%) believe that imagination is valued in Australian society.

When asked why Australian society may not value imagination, some respondents inferred this was due in part to the perceived view that work in the arts or creative fields are less legitimate professional pursuits.

40% of respondents who believed that Australian society does not value imagination cited government/cultural/political reasons, while 29% noted that imagination wasn't prioritised or properly valued.

The data shows that as a nation, we have lost our passion for creating, which affects all areas of our daily lives.

Respondents cite a distinct loss in imagination between age six to nine.

In line with the research, Canon has launched 'Imagination', the latest episode in The Lab series, designed to shift creative thinking behind the lens.

Canon says it saw an opportunity to challenge the photography community to think beyond the confines of perceptions drilled into us as we grow older.

One of the results of the Imagination Lab from Canon.
One of the results of the Imagination Lab from Canon.

The episode asks, 'what happens when you take on a brief from a client who sees the whole world differently?' and aims to rekindle the feelings of wonder and inspiration that we may have lost.

According to the research, one in four (26%) of those surveyed think that their days of imaginative thinking ended upon adulthood, while two out of three (67%) believe they were most imaginative as a child.

In this case, the unexpected clients were a group of children, who each briefed an advanced photographer on scenes and creatures that they conjured in their imagination.

Imagination is the latest in Canon's The Lab Series.
Imagination is the latest in Canon's The Lab Series.

The Lab is a series of creative episodes that address that need,'' says  Jason McLean, director - consumer imaging, Canon Australia.

"These experiments are equally relevant to the broader community, designed to shift a conventional way of thinking and take us out of our comfort zone.

Imagination - the latest in the series - challenges preconceptions and helps you see the world around you differently.''

After all 95% of us believe the world would be a better place if we all used our imagination more.

So in 2016, it really is time to turn on the dream machine again.