In Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Habit #1 is "Be Proactive."
He defines one of the aspects that differ humans from animals is the ability to choose to proact rather than react.
He points out that in a reactive model, there is virtually no gap between stimulus and response.
Whereas in a proactive model there is a space that contains humans' "ability to choose". The traits, unique to humans that allow this, are
1. Self awareness
Humans can be aware of their own feelings and mental state and compensate for them.
Humans have a sense of morality. (See previous post on Conscience)
Humans can IMAGINE multiple possible outcomes in advance as they assess appropriate actions to take.
Humans can think and choose independently.
I love how Covey addresses the controversy between whether we are more influenced by nature or nurture (genetics or conditioning).
"Is it nature or nurture?" "It's your choice."
Einstein said that imagination was more powerful than knowledge.
Ayn Rand "Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps down new roads armed with nothing but their own vision. Their goals differed, but they all had this in common: that the step was first, the road new, the vision unborrowed, and the response they received — hatred. The great creators — the thinkers, the artists, the scientists, the inventors — stood alone against the men of their time. Every great new thought was opposed. Every great new invention was denounced. The first motor was considered foolish. The airplane was considered impossible. The power loom was considered vicious. Anesthesia was considered sinful. But the men of unborrowed vision went ahead. They fought, they suffered and they paid. But they won."
One could replace the above "vision" with "imagination"
Feedback always welcome.