The Visionary Entrepreneur

Here is a fundamental question for all entrepreneurs. Are you a visionary? Being a visionary and having a corporate vision are two different things, so take care not to confuse the two. For a company, a non-profit or any other organization to thrive and succeed over a long period of time, visionary leadership is paramount. And unfortunately, many companies stagnate and die when the visionary leader moves on for whatever reason. That is why it is crucial for a company to continuously develop visionaries across generations that will help to sustain the organization in the future.

It is not hard to think about individuals who exemplify the term “visionary.” Steve Jobs comes to my mind before anyone else. He was a rebel and an unconventional thinker who was not afraid to take risks. Similarly, Bill Gates was a visionary who became the richest man in the world because of his ability to understand and shape the future. What comes to mind when you hear these names – Henry Ford, Wilbur and Orville Wright, John D.  Rockefeller, Thomas Edison, Sam Walton, Sergey Brin and Larry Page and Mark Zuckerberg? Each was a phenomenal innovator. Each had an uncanny sense of where the world was going. Each had dreams but was also a doer.

Being a visionary is partially innate and partially learned. So, what can we do to develop our visionary leadership skills? How curious are you? Do you read everything you can get your hands on? Visionaries are expansive readers and are curious about everything. Curiosity stimulates the imagination and helps bring forth new ideas manifesting in a high degree of creativity. How persevering are you? The next time you are ready to throw in the towel remember that visionaries have a stick-to-it attitude. They are highly resilient and believe they can solve any problem. Visionaries love discussion and debate. Some may see this as confrontational, but it really is not. Instead, a visionary listens to differing points of view even when it gets a bit lively.

What other ways can we model visionary behavior? Do you embrace change or are you more comfortable living with doing things the same way? Visionaries are change agents. They like to teach and are focused on doing the right thing. Integrity ranks high on their list of values. Do you have high expectations for your team? Sometimes the line between high vs. unreasonable expectations can blur a bit. But do not expect a visionary to set a low bar. Visionaries tend to be eternal optimists and cannot see a glass half empty – it is always half full or even more. And visionaries are some of the most passionate people you will ever meet. Finally, visionaries do not live in the details – they are quintessential delegators.

A visionary has a knack for looking at a collection of data and telling the future. He or she sees things that others do not and is not the least bit concerned if his or her ideas are pooh-poohed. In fact, visionaries will work hard to persuade others to buy into what they believe because they have a supreme degree of self-confidence.

By emulating their behaviors, traits, and tendencies, we too can become visionaries. Our value to our organization increases exponentially when we provide visionary leadership.

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.

Grrrrrrreat!

Question: Is there a secret formula for “greatness?” Some people seem to be destined that way. The rest of us . . . I’m not so sure sometimes.

Answer: Think about the people who you might consider being great – they can be living or dead. Who do you include? Albert Einstein? George Washington? Jonas Salk? Mother Teresa? What do all of these people have in common? They were all human beings, just like you and me. Each of them faced trials and tribulations similar to our own. None of them set out to be great. So just how did they rise to the level of respect and achievement that they did?

Each of these great people worked hard to live to their full potential. No one actually does this completely. But some people seem to get closer than others. So what does this say about mankind? We all are meant to do great things. When I was a child my parents pushed me hard to be better. My teachers did the same. On the basketball court my coaches rode me hard. There were times when I resented this but as an adult I realize that each parent, teacher and coach saw that I had potential and wanted me to achieve it. I attribute some of my success to having these people believe in me and encourage me to reach for the stars.

Some of us weren’t pushed as hard during our formative years as was I. So how do we do great things? Here’s the formula:

(Big Dreams + Risk Something) + (Resilience + Perseverance) + Positivity = Greatness

We can’t do great things if we don’t dream big dreams. Why don’t more people dream bigger? Because often there is risk involved or they don’t believe they can realize their dreams. But when we dream big and we put ourselves at risk, then we have a chance to make a real difference. And there’s no doubt that when we do both of these things we may not always succeed immediately. So it’s imperative that we bounce back and keep on trying. In the immortal words of Winston Churchill – we never, ever, ever, ever, ever give up. Finally we must maintain a positive outlook on everything we’re doing. Negativity blocks the flow of positive energy that we need to make the formula work. There’s one word that describes all of this . . . mindset. Great people who do great things have a great mindset.

You and I can have a great mindset. It requires practice every single day. Our DNA is programmed for us to do great things. When our mindset is in the right place, our greatness will manifest.

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.

Einstein

Clouds

Question: I’ve made great progress toward becoming successful but I find myself feeling a great deal of fear at times. I know that I’m afraid of failure and all the consequences associated with it and I know it is holding me back. How do I overcome this fear?

Answer: Fear kills. It kills dreams, creativity, and entrepreneurial spirit. Fear can be paralyzing. You are wise to declare that you want to overcome it. Some people say that fear can be motivating – that having a bit of fear is a good thing. I don’t subscribe to that philosophy. I can find plenty of positive things to motivate me and the negativity of fear is not one of them. Removing fear from our consciousness is a process and should be treated as such. I realize that this may sound somewhat clinical but I’ve found that gaining a thorough understanding of the root of a fear is an important first step.

Over the years I’ve heard entrepreneurs discuss a myriad of fears including public speaking, losing a big client, encountering poor health, financial issues, entering into a romantic relationship – you name it and I’ve heard it. But overcoming these fears has one thing in common. The root cause of the fear must be identified before it can be resolved. Doing this may require some introspection and more than a few uncomfortable moments.

Thirty years ago I found myself flying on airplanes every week. I had a young family at the time and developed a severe fear of getting on a plane. My stomach was tied up in knots; I began to sweat; I’d feel faint, and my heart was pounding out of my chest. It was all I could do to force myself to walk down the jet way. I was convinced that the odds were against me and plane was going to crash. After months of trying to fight the anxiety I finally began to search for the root cause. I realized I was afraid of leaving my small children without a father – and to some extent I was afraid of death itself. I worked with my minister to understand where this came from and gradually the fear disappeared. Having always been fascinated with airplanes I began studying the mechanics of flight, started taking flying lessons and eventually bought a plane of my own. How’s that for turning the tables on fear?

My dad had a terrific saying, “Your troubles are like the clouds. Tomorrow they will be gone.” Our fears can also be like dissipating clouds if we don’t try to fight or suppress them. Instead we must go inward and find the source of our fear. Then gently and easily we release it to be replaced with confidence and faith.   

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.