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boy leading a girl, pointing out to the horizon

The Benefits Of Operating As A Visionary & The Case To Move Beyond It

On the horizon of possibilities, visionaries see all of the potential visions. And this is their Achilles heel. They see all the paths they can take, but they struggle on the choice of which one to take. Starting everything (with good intentions), and finishing nothing is their hallmark. 

They are chronic abandoners, with a wake of broken promises on their path. They seek to shape reality as opposed to accepting reality for what it is. And the great clash ensues. 

The Visionary

But, it doesn't start this way. In fact, at the offset and much of the journey, being a visionary (or a starter) feels wonderful. People look up to you, prospects want to work with you, and team members are loyal, even during challenging times. 

As a visionary, you are the focal point and the receiver of admiration and attention. And it feels good to be the bottleneck everyone flows through. As an inspirational guru, people are constantly looking to you and for help solving their problems. And through this, visionaries find meaning and identity.

But, there’s a dark secret for those of you who have been or are in this visionary state. You were courageous to make the leap from where you were to what could be out there, but you have little to no real idea on how to identify and land on the destination. You just didn’t think that far out before making the leap (and that's part of the problem). 

Simply put, you don’t know where you’re going. 

And, if you did (or when you do), you’re hesitant to sidestep the spotlight for the destination (vision). By setting a vision, and telling people where it is and how to get there, you feel as if they won’t need you anymore. You’ll become replaceable, and that’s scary. 

It feels much better to be the vision and the visionary than it is to extract that vision out of you for the benefit of the people you lead. And the process is no cakewalk, either. Doing this means being accountable and disciplined. As much as you might want to set a vision and get your team there, the cost is higher than you're willing to pay.

The Cost Of A Visionless Visionary

But if you don’t set your vision, you’ll one day alienate and upset the people that love you most. Eventually, when they realize you’re not 'all that and a box of chocolates', they’ll see you for who you really are. A charismatic but incomplete leader. Someone who frantically changes by the winds of circumstances, and a leader with fatal flaws that makes their life harder than it needs to be. 

You can step aside, cast the vision and direct your people, or you can perpetually disappoint them and eventually, they'll stop following you.

Level Up

Here’s the good news. If you take this leap of faith, set the vision, and move forward together, you’ll find a new and better role with your team and clients: An Achiever (or finisher) that does great things and consistently achieves great things. You won’t just be the creative problem solver, you’ll be somebody with merit-based authority that consistently makes a real difference in the lives of people.

Upon this newfound clarity, it won’t be about you. It’ll be about the vision. While loyalty (or lack of it) is still important to you, what's more, important is how everyone is contributing towards the common goal. People will follow you because they know by doing so, they will accomplish great things for themselves, their families, and their communities. And, they'll receive deeper meaning in the challenge of pursuing this higher vision, as well as a reward for the discipline of actions required to make it come to life.

Reality Stands In Your Way 

"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." - Philip K. Dick, I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon

To lead this way will require you fully embrace failure (an aspect of reality you're resistant to), as part of the overall equation of business development. Choose to go from admiration to humiliation. 

To set a vision requires a willingness to be perceived as foolish (not everyone will like what we decide, or fully understand it). And to actually be a fool for what you go after. 

I learned one of the most effective ways to learn someone’s name is by calling them the wrong one in front of a large group (not always the best idea for fostering a good relationship). Yeah, doing so quickly made a fool of me. But, I won't ever forget that person's name. This is how achievement works, and how the success and failure compound on it. 

We take risks and sharply do things. When they work, we’re ecstatic. When they don’t, failure is carved deep into our mind and spirit. We learn and we grow. What we succeed at is much greater than the suffering and embarrassment we face along the way. Often, it can even be an additional motivator to help us succeed in the future. 

This marathon is no sprint. Our preparation for and actions during the extended journey must accurately reflect this reality if we are to succeed. Do the hard work. Commit to a vision. And if it’s wrong you can always change it later. Accept reality, and learn to dance with it. 

Spend the time extracting your small business vision, commit to that focus, and lead your team with a strong sense of clarity and focus. Let your actions validate your intentions, and finish everything you start. If you choose not to start a new thing until you've closed the loop on all the things on your plate, you'll begin to shift away from the long history of reckless abandonment and neglect.

Start the process now, so in when people who knew you five or ten years ago meet you in the future, they'll be in denial about how much you've changed for the better in ways they would have never expected. 

Hero Photo by Torsten Dederichs on Unsplash

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