What is a visionary?
At first blush, the title strikes me as lofty and full of oneself. I have resisted seeing myself as such because it felt pompous and self gratuitous.
I noticed that I was continually gravitating to biographies of visionaries, without consciously making such a decision. From da Vinci to Lincoln to Steve Jobs and so many others, I was fascinated by their life stories.
In each of the biographies, I saw the human side of these larger than life personas and recognized how the traditional forces of life were continually haranguing them as they do, me. With each of the stories and circumstances that I studied, the one factor that was common to all of these people was tenacity. A deep inner fire that was never going to let go, regardless of circumstance, obstacle, or any other life impedance.
By reducing these legends into humans with real life problems that required solution, the overwhelming lesson that has come through was there can be no obstacle that is insurmountable. If there is a vision, the solution to that vision must be on the other side of the obstacle.
Da Vinci was born out of wedlock and denied any formal education whatsoever. His status in society precluded him from many options that were available to other children in his neighborhood. Abraham Lincoln was faced with the tragic death of two sons, a wife who had mental illness and a country that was determined to crumble under his watch. Steve Jobs was incapable of being a good parent, thrown out of the company that he had founded and ultimately had to battle cancer.
Each of these men had countless other obstacles that I won’t take the time to delineate, but as I study their approach, the overwhelming commonality was an unwillingness to concede to the forces in life that appeared to dwarf their opportunity to succeed in their dreams. Instead, each found ways to leverage their disadvantages into some of their greatest successes.
The word visionary is defined as:
(especially of a person) thinking about or planning the future with imagination or wisdom.
“a visionary leader”
I think many people are visionary. Some are more prone to act on their vision, while others are less inclined due to a host of reasons. For those who are willing to pursue their vision with everything that life has bestowed upon them, there is an unflinching passion that overwhelms any obstacle that will try to extinguish the vision.
There is nothing superhuman about this character trait. It is truly born from desire and focus. It is propelled by wisdom and courage. It is triumphant because of tenacity and a determination to succeed that will supersede any of the fears that arise from life circumstances.
I learned a lot from these men, and many others. More than anything else, I found them to be relatable human beings whose life stories gave me the courage to continue to pursue my dreams in the face of all adversity.
You do not have to be a visionary to leverage these qualities, you only need believe in yourself. If you do that with full conviction, everything else will follow suit.