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Do You Believe In Visionaries?

by Gip Plaster on June 14th, 2011

Does visionary leadership have any place in a simple, deliberate life? Are you a visionary? Are we all?

So many people seem to place their life in the hands of a religion, spirituality or philosophy that cuts out visionaries. Do you?

This Is Not About Prophets

Being a visionary has nothing to do with spiritual beliefs — or at least it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with spirituality.

A visionary, according my dictionary, is simply someone who has some original, imaginative ideas or wisdom about the future. Expanding on that, being such a visionary doesn’t do anyone any good unless he or she is willing to share that unique insight with others.

In other words, almost by definition, a visionary must be vocal. And one who is compelled to be vocal usually wants to be persuasive too. That means a visionary wants to take you with them to a new future.

Therefore, I define a visionary as someone with big ideas about the future who wants to take us with them on a journey toward this bright new way.

A prophet, on the other hand, is someone who claims to know the will of God and perhaps wants to help you on a journey toward God. Those people rarely deserve to be followed.

In general, a spiritual leader who wants to be followed should be avoided at all costs.

This Is Not About Authors

Have you read one of those circular-argument business books? You know the kind I mean, don’t you?

All you have to do to be successful, the author assures, is set up a website or blog, create a mailing list and then write a book about how you sold your book to your big contact list. The book itself is the fulfillment of the so-called success.

But how many books like that have been written by people who never sell them? And how many people have followed a particular book’s prescribed methods and managed to duplicate it for themselves?

Authors who write books about writing books aren’t visionaries. They’re wanna-be gurus who don’t deserve to be followed either.

This Is Probably Not About Bloggers

The Internet is overpopulated with bloggers who want to tell you how to live your lives based on what worked for them — or what they hope will one day work for them.

In general, these bloggers aren’t visionaries. They’re just hopeful people who want to make something of their lives. If they do, they may very well abandon their blogs and forget to take you with them.

So where does that leave us? Who are we to follow for our inspiration?

Is This About You And Me?

The idea of group consciousness that’s proposed by some spiritual groups at first seems very wrong indeed. Changes for the better or worse rise up from all of us, they suggest. But that kind of thinking leaves no room for visionaries or leaders.

I think we each have a piece of life’s puzzle, and we’re all compelled to share what we know in some way. There’s no point knowing something if we don’t share it.

We can move forward with visionary-led simple, deliberate lives by each leading in our own ways. Soon, perhaps, the world will come with us.

Who is our visionary? You and I and those and them are all in charge around here, don’t you think?

Maybe we’re all co-visionaries. If so, what’s your part?

Or are you already following a visionary? Should I give up my personal empowerment spiel and follow your visionary instead? Make your case, please.

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10 Comments
  1. Robert Wall permalink

    I’m not sure a visionary has to be vocal, but their vision doesn’t go far if they don’t at least have somebody to be vocal on their behalf!

    I think that the requirements to be a visionary are very similar to the requirements for being a prophet, though – specific predictions.

    Henry Ford was a visionary. He was once quoted as saying “if I’d given people what they wanted, I would’ve given them a faster horse”. He saw cars (at least *his* car 🙂 ) changing the way people traveled.

    Contrast this with somebody else in the same time period saying “someday we won’t ride horses”. Or the modern example, the people predicting the “death of Facebook” or the “death of Twitter”.

    Predicting the death of something is easy. And since most everything goes through a life/death cycle, you’re very unlikely to ever be wrong – just time-shifted somewhat.

    Predicting the birth of something new, on the other hand….Ford with the car, Wozniak & Jobs with the personal computer….those people were visionary.

    Being a visionary, almost by definition, requires seeing what other people don’t see.
    Robert Wall recently posted Review- “Having It All” by Meg Wolfe

    • Thanks for the comment, Robert. I think you’re right on all counts.

      Ford is a good example. He was not only a visionary but he worked to make his vision happen — and he talked a lot about it too.

      So now the question is this: Are you or I seeing something that others don’t? And if so, are we doing anything about it?
      Gip

  2. Interesting subject, Gip. I think there’s room for visionaries as well as group conscience. We need people who have the imagination to think “outside the box” and envision the future to keep us evolving as a species and a society. The problem is that only in hindsight can we tell the true visionaries from the false prophets.

    OTOH, the concept of group conscience may be of more use in day to day life and harmonious social function. Must we choose between the two?
    Mike | Homeless On Wheels recently posted Guest Post on So Much More Life

    • I don’t know that we must choose between the two. The more I wrote about the two concepts, they more compatible they seem. I’ll have to explore this more another time.

      I’m not too sure how interested I am in harmonous social function either!
      Gip

  3. This is interesting stuff Gip. It’s hard to say how the mind of a visionary overlaps with the minds of a group consciousness, but I’m guessing that a visionary is tapping into what the collective already knows, but doesn’t recognize as truth yet.
    Jenny @ exconsumer recently posted Roller Coasters and Living in the Present Moment

    • Wow. That’s probably one of the most eloquent comments any of us have made here in a while. And you’re exactly right, I think.

      Gip

  4. I agree with Jenny–“visionaries” tap into collective consciousness while it is still somewhat unconscious. One way to look at it is the visionary is the person with a message that is ready to be heard. If the message isn’t ready to be heard, the visionary is ignored or regarded as a crank.

    I don’t know about following them. Getting inspiration, yeah, but following visionaries is a bad bad bad bad bad idea. Just my 2 cents.
    Meg recently posted The Minimalist Woman’s Guide to Having it All

    • Thanks for commenting, Meg.

      But here’s the question: Who are we following? Many people don’t seem to be following their own inner guidance or any external guidance. They’re lost in a fog of daily life and not going anywhere.

      Gip

      • Oh, that’s easy enough: they’re following marketers. The incessant drone of marketing is everywhere, all the ads, commercials, logos, etc., encouraging people to stay on the work and buy treadmill. If you don’t follow anything like a religious or personal philosophy, it’s pretty easy to be hypnotized into following some form of materialism. Maybe that’s too much of a blanket statement, but I think it is true enough, otherwise there wouldn’t be this little group of anti-consumerists commenting on your blog and other places ;D
        Meg recently posted The Minimalist Woman’s Guide to Having it All

        • You make a very good point. I’ve actually made an effort recently to see and hear fewer ads. That means no more listening to the radio in the car!
          Gip

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