I’m predominately a visionary, with some steady mixed in — but sometimes I wonder if I’m actually not visionary/command, with some laziness that smacks of steady. (As a child, I tended to take charge and be imaginiative.) Either way, I definitely have visionary in me, even if I’m only now rediscovering it with the help of my wife.
So, visionaries: let’s talk about the journey.
We tend to feel very strongly about our dreams, sometimes (often?) to the exclusion of reality. My dream, which has ebbed and flowed and which I’ve wandered away from but always come back to, has been filmmaking. At 18, I knew I wanted to be a filmmaker. Since then, I’ve gone through several stages.
5 Stages of My Journey
2006-2007 // Daydreaming. I aspired to be a filmmaker, to change the world, to be a great person. I played with cameras and held a part-time job.
2008-2009 // Learning by Doing. I tried to become serious about film, and became increasingly dissatisfied with dabbling in it while working my part-time job.
2010-2011 // Sink or Swim. Quit my job and moved to start a business with a friend. Both very visionary things to do, as my bank account could testify from this timeframe.
2012-2013 // Complacent. God brought my path across a good contract in marketing. I contented myself with doing video work fairly regularly, and didn’t pursue outside learning or experience opportunities very much.
2014-???? // Sink or Swim 2. I got married after a 6 month courtship/engagement, moved, and tried establishing my business in a place which I came to realize (after the fact) didn’t have a market. All very visionary things to do.
Dear fellow visionaries, here are some life lessons you can take note of:
Passivity, apathy, and laziness can look an aweful lot like steadiness in a man, but the test is in whether he buckles down and does the work necessary to make things happen. It’s easy to be content with letting things happen to you; it’s risky to take initiative and live without trying to please everyone (especially critics).
Pride & Humility
Marketing does not have to be about self-promotion and arrogance. I was afraid to sell myself because I, in my pride, didn’t want to look arrogant. I prevented myself from learning how to effectively communicate and gain work.
Having $150 in your bank account is okay when all you pay is car insurance and maintainence. Living off of a dwindling savings account is not okay when you’re married, paying all expenses, and/or have a car that could die at any moment. Also, committing to living without debt is absolutely worth it, but requires a conscious split from the mindset of American culture.
And now we come to it:
The Day Job.
My work right now: I’m a web developer during the day, and in my free time it’s my job to change the world.
I don’t like to identify myself as a web developer, but I have to admit… That’s what pays the bills right now. I’ve spent a lot of time lately building websites, which is never something I really aspired to do.
But deep down, I’m a filmmaker. It’s my business, my dream. In this season of life — as I’m building my studio, marketing, and gaining connections — spending time behind a camera or in Final Cut often has to take second priority to work that puts food on the table.
Visionaries: don’t be afraid of the day job. I can think of one good friend right now who’s in a similar place as me, and I think he’s handling it quite well. He’s diligently moving toward his launching into his vision, while making his day job as meaningful as possible. (Dominic, you’ve handled it better than I have!)
One of the hardest thing for a visionary to grasp is the fact that journeys take time. Comprehending this in a culture of Instant is more difficult, but it’s something you have to do. Dreams and visions take time to reach. Enjoy the scenery as you walk to the beginning of your vision’s journey, but be purposeful about doing the work necessary both to launch that vision and to ensure it doesn’t fall flat due to apathy, dirth, or fear.
Risk is okay. Risk that recklessly sacrifices basic responsibilities of life is not okay.
You might have to stock shelves during the day while changing the world in your free time. You might have to do that for a long time – maybe not. And, by the way, if anyone tells you it’s impossible to pursue a strong vision, work for a living, and lead a strong relationship with a wife and family, they’re lying. You’re a visionary: figure out how to involve and collaborate with those around you, and you’ll never have to worry about straining those intimate relationships.
It’s a risky thing to step out and be a visionary. And it’s completely worth it. There’s a culture and world around you that needs some more Light and Truth in it. Go forth and do great things!