Where do we begin and our dreams end? Visionary leadership is about living in the space between pragmatism and dream, a wonderful, dangerous place where the unconscious and the conscious share a language. Our insights rise up from a place more real than reality, and we feel them as if they are already real, but beware! They need translation before others can overcome their natural resistance to transformational thinking. They look startling and sometimes frightening to others!
Our visionary ideas emerge from a great deal of experience, knowledge and passion. Lit by the fire of our own transformation, we sometimes forget that the risks that delight us can look more like destruction and danger to others. We are awake when others are sleeping. Our vision may, initially, feel like a nightmare to our followers.
We may look more mad than visionary. The fires of that liminal (in-between) space have changed us.
We are filled with light. But we ourselves are not visible until the emergent vision has taught us how to live in a way that we can be seen as a leader.
It’s our job to emerge whole from the emergent dream, and to make our vision legible to others — that is, we must bring the light of our vision into the world in a way that the people who can benefit will recognize it as something of value.
Wherever our vision of transformation wants to live, we must first become teachers: translating, captivating, and learning with the followers and colleagues and systems that will benefit from our emergent insights. In the process of persuading others to understand, we must not suffocate the vision. We must always remember its source, stay connected to the knowing from that beautiful, dangerous place. Without that connection, we cannot find the vulnerability and strength to let the vision grow with time. We lose the wildness that birthed the vision. If that were to happen, we would lose the passion we need to sustain ourselves as visionary leaders.
Be Aware! Beware! Emergence is a strange and surreal experience, an awakening, a baptism, a transformation. Hold its vitality and power in the core of your soul. Only then can the gifts of a vision ground in the world as action, practice, resilience and change. Only then can a visionary become a visionary leader.
Thanks to Alex Stoddard and his amazing self portraits for inspiring me to explore this story from a different angle. All photographs can be found here: http://www.mymodernmet.com/profiles/blogs/stunning-selfportraits-by-a