Imagination & Intelligence: Who is more important ?

This question has always put thinkers, scientists, and theorists in a spot.  Albert Einstein certainly thought so too. He said: “I’m enough of an artist to draw freely on my imagination, which I think is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

We all know that Einstein was a genius but maybe we fail to recognize the genius within each of us at times, i.e. the use of our imagination to create the feelings and the circumstances we want in our life, whether this be work, family, relationships, finances, mental and physical health or whatever.

Each one of you would have read or heard the story of “The Thirsty Crow”, now if he could not imagine the pebbles in the water will rise the water levels. He would have died out of thirst. Since, he had the capability to imagine and then use his intellect for survival. The moral we have been learning from that story is “Where there is a will, there is a way”. No one even thinks about the parallel usage of intellect and imagination for survival.

If you ask me, Imagination is everything, it’s created the clothes we wear, the home we live in, the cars we drive, the digital tools you’re reading this from… everything. Imagination has been one key principle for Newtonian physics or Planet Pandora of Avatar or even Paintings of Picasso. As they popularly say, today’s fiction is tomorrow’s science. What they are saying is imagine first, you will achieve is due course of time.

Neuroscientists, theoretical physicists, management thinkers, physicians and many scientists have been researching on the link between Imagination and Intellect. The relationship between intelligence and imagination has been subject to empirical research for decades. Nevertheless, there is yet no consensus on how these constructs are related. Various theories have been proposed, however there has been no conclusive empirical proof. While scientists are doing their jobs, we all know that imagination and intellect have a very deep and meaningful relationship.

The real question is, can imagination be developed, and can it influence the intellect of you and me? And the answer YES, Imagination can be developed, and it can influence your intellect in a very positive form. Few things one can do to enhance imaginative capabilities are following:

  • Daydreaming: Daydreaming helps you find and explore the new connections. Let the mind wander and discover those thought processes which you thought never existed. As per Einstein, his best thinking was while taking those long walks in solitude which made him genius. daydreaming is a natural thought process; at its best–it’s probably our greatest hope for breakthrough thinking.
  • Read Often: The more we read, the more we gain knowledge. Now one could argue, watching videos over internet also impart knowledge. But I would still profess reading, because reading broadens the imagination to let mind paint its own picture for you. You would have heard, the motion pictures based on books are not as good as books. Have you ever imagined, why is that, It is because, imagination is not constrained by budgets. movies are. The same applies to your thinking, intellect, and cognitive processes.
  • Challenge your notions: To maintain sanity of the brain, brains are naturally conditioned to be negatively biased. It means, naturally brains create this illusion of limitations and feeling of not being good enough. The more we feed it with this negative faith, the stronger becomes the negative bias. To stretch your intellect, challenge these notions and try work in slightly uncomfortable zones of thinking. Eventually, it will help you broaden your horizons and increase the dimensions of your intellect.
  • Use your Smart Phone Smartly: Instead of using the phone for watching videos and all sorts of internet junk. Invest time and money in reading books or listening to audio books. I have tried audio-books and they work equally well as the physical books. Use the notepad of your phone to jot down ideas and concepts. Use communication channels to talk to people and avoid forwarding the internet banality.
  • Find time for yourself: We all know, we live in a world time is scarce commodity. We all have so many things to do, right from putting kids to school, cooking, cleaning, doing jobs, managing relationships, vacationing etc. No matter what, please find time for yourself. It could very well be 30 mins in early morning or 30 mins before sleeping. Use this 30 mins to exercise your brain with newer ideas or reading 10 pages of a book or jotting down thoughts which came to you while having coffee with your colleague.


In summary, Imagination and intellect are interdependent on each other. Neither of them can survive stand alone. Imagination and Intellect has always been faces of a coin. Of course, all the knowledge has to be there to tap into and later the hard work has to be done. But to make the neural connections–that takes imagination and vision. Without imagination, knowledge would just be a set of facts and figures going nowhere.


Nihit M

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4 thoughts on “Imagination & Intelligence: Who is more important ?”

    1. Sir, Imagination leads to invention which further leads to imagination. So it is a positive loop which encourages growth and evolution of human mind

  1. Imagination is infinite and inseparable from knowledge. Knowledge has potency to transform imagination to reality. Knowledge, knower of knowledge and object of knowledge starts action. A rope seen under a poor light is confused with a snake, I imagine the snake because I have knowledge of snake; the crux of the issue is , with a view to clear my imagination I have to take action , that is, I have to go near the rope or increase the light so that rope clearly becomes visible . To increase the light means to gain more knowledge on the object of imagination.. Good article Mr. Nihit, keep it up.

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Who is Nihit Mohan?

Nihit Mohan is a banker, author and a TEDx speaker. He was born & raised in the cradle of cultural diversity of India, & currently resides in Singapore. He did his education from seven schools spread across multiple cities & cultures. He is an engineer by education & has made a successful career in the financial services industry. He hails from a family of engineers, bureaucrats & academicians.

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