Are You a Visionary But Not a Leader?

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"We throw around that term ‘leader’ so much. But we can’t be a leader if we have nothing to lead from. Leaders need to reconnect with their vision. They need to reconnect with their genius. They need to lead from that place."

For accessibility and ease, you can listen to this post narrated by Mike:


A visionary is not necessarily a leader.

I think sometimes we conflate the two. We call the head of any creative organization a visionary—a true pioneer. And we assume anyone with an innovative vision is leading the charge in creating something new.

But we visionaries know better. We visionaries have spent our entire lives being visionaries. But maybe not all those times being a leader.

By definition, a leader is a person who leads—leads from their vision.

And I can say firsthand, that most of my life has not been spent leading from my vision. If anything, it’s been spent running from it.

When you’re consistently told that you’re “too much” and “not enough” all of your life, you tend to think that you’re wrong. You’re different. You’re weird. You’re fucked up.

Too emotional and too sensitive and too intense. And not professional enough or focused enough.

And, sooner or later, most of us become followers. We follow other people’s rules over our own vision.

I’ve spent a lot of time in my life paying more attention to the rules than to what I envisioned. I’d compare myself to others. See how I was fitting in. Assume that if they were more successful, they were probably doing something right, and I was wrong.

I knew all the rules. I took all the courses. I read all the books. I analyzed the dynamics the second I walked into a room.

I may have been a visionary, but I never led from that vision.

Because to lead from a vision is not normal.

If ‘normal’ means ‘to comply with the hegemonic norms of a given society,’ then leading from a vision isn’t normal. It can’t be normal. It’s way outside of the fucking box.

Because we’re creating something the world has never seen. Of course it can’t comply with the hegemonic norms.

Right now, even thinking about unique genius and leading from the vision isn’t normal. It’s not what most people do. It’s not in compliance with the hegemonic norms.

To be a leader, we cannot be normal.

To be a leader, we have to be too much. And not enough. And make decisions from that place.

We have to get up every day and lead from our genius. Being led by our vision.

Being unafraid to do things that have never been done before. Doing it first and foremost.

My Sacred Circlers know that I may have been through the Circle somewhere around 25 times or so, but I do every single worksheet along with the Circle every time.

If I can’t lead from my vision, how can I ever expect to lead others by it?

Because leadership is more than just being a visionary. It’s physicalizing it. It’s realizing it. It’s embodying it on every level.

We visionaries are given the tremendous gift of sensitivity. Of being able to sense more in our given area of genius. Of seeing bigger possibilities than currently exist.

Seeing that is something entirely different from leading from that place.

From knowing how hard it is to come up against challenges and resistance and pushback. Because we’ve done it. We’ve done it ourselves. Maybe every single day.

Leadership is about choosing the vision first. Even when it’s hard. Even when we swear we can’t. Even when it forces us to grow and change—especially then.

The world will always balk at innovation. Because it’s beyond what’s known or expected or normal. Visionaries, by definition, walk the path of resistance.

So, to be a leader is to defiantly walk that path. Again and again and again. Knowing that our visions are important. They matter. They’ll make this world a better place. And we love the world too much to see it deprived of that vision. We believe that the people around us are worth fighting for.

We believe that the people around us are worth fighting for.

So we lead. Even when it sounds fucking crazy. And we’re seen as “too much” and weird and “not normal.”

Even then, we lead. We do the hard stuff. We are pulled forward by our visions. And we choose possibility over current reality. We choose the chance that we can create a better world over the resignation that we are powerless to ever affect change.

Even if our change is only one person. Or one situation. Or ourselves.

The world deserves that. The world is worthy. We are worthy. Of that tremendous, unconditional love.

It’s a hard path to be a visionary. To see possibilities so clearly and be frustrated by the current reality. And frustrated that others don’t understand us or take us seriously or call us weird. Frustrated that we know we can support some people, and they can’t see it. Frustrated that people never quite get what we’re saying.

It’s fucking hard. And it’s really easy to accept all those stories that tell us that we’re “too much” and “not enough.” That we’re wrong. And to just follow the rules. To follow.

We can do that. And many of us do choose to do that. I know I have for most of my life.

Because I was terrified of what it’d really mean to lead from my vision. To claim that vision that I believe we can live in a world where people are unafraid to look at their shadows. Where people are unafraid to know they are geniuses and boldly claim it. Where people are unafraid to express their “too much-ness” in every moment.

I was terrified of even letting myself know I had that belief—never mind sharing it out loud. And fighting for it every day. Even when people laugh at me or tell me I’m crazy.

I was scared. So I shut it down. I traded it in. I chose comfort over authenticity. I chose to be a derivative of someone else over a pure version of myself.

I chose to be a vision who’d given up on my vision.

I may have been a visionary, but I wasn’t a leader.

We throw around that term ‘leader’ so much. But we can’t be a leader if we have nothing to lead from. Leaders need to reconnect with their vision. They need to reconnect with their genius. They need to lead from that place.

And we can’t half-ass it, either. If we’re going to lead from that vision, we have to fully go there. The place that only we can access. The future that only we can see.

We can pretty much guarantee it’ll be met with challenges and resistance and pushback. We can pretty much guarantee it’ll seem weird and fantastical and “not normal.”

But, fuck, if it isn’t leadership. If it isn’t actually, really, choosing you. Not just a small part of you. I mean all of you. Your potential. Your essence. Your possibilities for the future.

A visionary only has one question in every moment, “What choice would be truly leading from my vision?”

If we can answer that honestly and take action with integrity every day, then it doesn’t really matter how much resistance we face. Our vision becomes real. And we are leading it forward.

Questions for Reflection:

*Answer in a journal, in the comments right here, or take it over to the Sacred Branding® Facebook group where we can support one another.

Are you a visionary but not a leader?

— Have you been told that you’re “too much” and “not enough”? Have you had big, fantastical ideas and visions that never seem to come to fruition? Are you frustrated that it’s so hard to create that vision in real life?

— Have you felt insecure that you might be “weird” or “totally out there,” especially when pursuing your vision? Have you faced challenges and resistance and pushback? Have you ever chosen to follow the rules over pursuing your true vision?

— What if you went all in? What if leading from your vision is the only way to be a leader? What if every day, all you have to do is ask yourself again and again, “What choice would be truly leading from my vision right now?”

Mike Iamele

Mike Iamele

Mike writes about how artists, entrepreneurs, healers, and visionaries of all kinds can actually build a life around the genius inside of them.

He's CEO of Mike Iamele LLC and Creator of Sacred Branding® and the Sacred Circle.

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