"An artist is not paid for his labor but for his vision." — James Whistler
Though Dreamers and Visionaries share similar qualities there is a distinct difference, and that difference is quite simple: All Visionaries are Dreamers, but not all Dreamers are Visionaries.
Dreaming is important—it allows us to see things not only for how they are and have always been but also for how they could be. A common objection to Dreamers, however, is that they live in the clouds—but that’s how it should be! Dreamers are in the clouds because they know that’s how to get the really good view! Instead of having the ant’s-eye views they climb up for the eagle’s-eye view! What makes Dreamers so important, however, is also what makes for a drawback if they’re not careful. After all, what’s the use of seeing the bigger picture if we’re not able to see, articulate, and execute the details?
Martin Luther King Jr. said it well when he said:
“The difference between a dreamer and a visionary is that a dreamer has his eyes closed and a visionary has his eyes open.”
How can a Dreamer see the big picture and yet lack the vision to decipher the details? A Dreamer with his or her eyes closed lacks the clarity necessary to turn a dream into a vision, and it’s this important characteristic—clarity—that turns a Dreamer with their eyes closed into a Visionary with their eyes wide open.
A Dreamer who’s become a Visionary comes down from the clouds, identifies the details to make their dream become a reality, articulates the dream in tandem with the details, and then inspires others into action by jumping into action themselves. And when a Visionary does all of this—when a Visionary jumps into action and others begin to follow—something amazing happens: That Visionary becomes a leader—a leader who turns dreams into reality through clarity, vision, and action.
The Magic Word Vision reminds us that dreaming can only go so far, and if we desire to see dreams become reality we must invest the effort to seek clarity.
Do you tend to be Dreamer or a Visionary? If you find yourself “stuck in the clouds,” what are some ways that you can seek clarity?
Jonas Cain is an educator, facilitator, and coach, working to engage, empower, and encourage leaders and the people they serve to experience joy.