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The Curse of Being Visionary

The Curse of Being Visionary

May 15, 2024

Recently, I had a heated argument with a colleague who is a friend. Towards the end, she mentioned something interesting about me. She said that people often describe me as a visionary, claiming that they do not understand what I am saying at the moment, but months or even years later, they come to me saying, "Oh, now I get it; that is what you meant." 

It is just not fun to be proven right afterward. You might think it strokes your ego when you are young, but it does not get you anywhere. My colleague finds it frustrating. My question is, why don't people follow the vision and trust it? 

It reminds me of one of those leadership axioms: "To lead, one must first learn to follow." I do not know what lies behind this. However, here is what I think: if you have learned to follow, you know what you, as a leader, demand from followers. 

We used to think that if you explained a vision well enough and for long enough, people would understand it. Experience has taught us that most people operate on a "see first, then believe" basis, while vision operates on a "believe first, then see" premise.

Let me clarify something. I do not believe in a leader but in leadership. It is about a group taking the lead and, depending on the situation, taking the initiative. So, it is about situational leadership and a system or network of leaders.

Another wisdom is that without followers, there are no leaders. Leadership is a relationship. People must want to follow leadership. Perhaps not wanting to follow leadership is anarchy. Leadership must position itself in such a way that people can and want to follow. However, people must also be able and willing to follow.

In recent decades, both humanity and society have changed significantly. This is due to many factors: technological developments, numerous crises, but also the neoliberal system. Among other things, these factors have made humans increasingly emotional and less rational. In the neoliberal system, people follow money; money talks, bullshit walks.

In this context, democracy is not only vulnerable but also in danger. Money is needed to influence people's emotions during elections and to pay for media. So, money determines who wins elections. It is also clear whose interests politics serves.

How do we strengthen democracy? By dissent and by trying to create awareness of it.

Miguel Goede

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