This I Believe

Osborn, Alex F. (Alex Faickney)


  • Alex Osborn describes his belief in the power of creative imagination and ideas, and his satisfaction in teaching others how to capitilize on their "most priceless possession" (creative imagination) as well.
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And now, This I Believe, a series of living philosophies presented in the hope they may help to strengthen and enrich your life. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Alexander F. Osborn has for many years been vice-president and director of one of America's leading advertising agencies--Batton, Barton, Durston, and Osborn. But he considers that the most significant thing in his life is his effort to have education include the development of creative thinking. His most recent contribution to this field is a new textbook entitled Applied Imagination: Principles and Procedures of Creative Thinking. Here now is Alex F. Osborn.
I believe that all of us are endowed with a divine spark and that that spark is our creative
imagination. By implementing it with willpower, we can acquire a habit of creative effort, and to my mind, creative effort is the key to a good life. I came out of college knowing practically nothing about creative imagination. My first awakening came as a result of my being fired from my very first job, as a cub reporter on the Buffalo Times. Early the next morning, having filled a scrapbook with clippings from the Times, I went to the Buffalo Express and asked the city editor for a job. He wanted to know how much experience I had had. "Only three months," I said, "but won't you please look over these clippings?" He did so, for he was a kindly man--Steve Evans, by name. "They are pretty amateurish," was his comment, "but our police reporter is sick and I'll take a chance on you for a
couple of weeks. It's a big gamble, and I'm taking it only because in each of these articles of yours, there seems to be an idea."
That remark of Steve Evans made me realize that ideas could be diamonds. If ideas are that valuable, I said to myself that evening, why don't I try to turn out more of them? Why can't I think up a new idea each day? Well, that's how I got started on trying to make the most of my imagination.
Most people think that work can never be fun, but the fact is that creative efforts can be fun. By and large, no people enjoy their toil as much as those who deal in ideas. They are prone to gripe that some stomach ulcers are the wound stripes of their professions. But at heart, they know that although
necessity is often the mother of creative effort, fun is often the father.
Creative effort can even intensify one's faith. One phase of this fact was brought out by my minister, Dr. Albert Butzer, when he said, "Events in Christ's life can come alive to us in all their original vividness if we read of them with our imaginations, as well as with our eyes."
About five years ago, a lifelong friend of mine, who had risen to the top in his field, wrote me on my birthday, saying, "How do you like being 60? Neither do I." That kind of shocked me, because it found me feeling quite happy. Why? Well, I think mainly because I was trying harder than ever before to be more creative and in more different ways.
Since then, in addition to my other chores, I have been writing books on creative imagination. And in strenuously keeping at this, I expect to be happier than I otherwise would be because nothing could give me more satisfaction than to teach people how to make greater use of their most priceless possession, their creative imagination.
That was Alexander F. Osborn, a leader in the world of advertising, who has turned his efforts to education in greater creativity.