Grounded Visionaries are both Disruptors and Healers
Leadership Coach, Front of Room Leader and Systemic Change Guide

A grounded visionary is both a disruptor and a healer.

If you have a vision to change something for the better, then you are bringing disruption to the way things have been done up until now. If you are not willing to disrupt a system, you cannot change, let alone transform, that system. Transformation is the ultimate disruption, with no way back, as the caterpillar’s transformation into the butterfly teaches us. Like the caterpillar, a relationship, an organisational culture, or indeed a whole education, pension, or trading system can only be transformed by the death of the old ways. This necessitates letting go of old expectations, behaviours, and beliefs.

That’s a big ask to make. Hence the more people are affected by the change you envision, the more resistance you can count on. That’s why practicing vision led disruption on a smaller level can be really helpful to gain experience of how you best deal with the impact your leadership is having on those around you.

Where to practice? You can gain the most intimate experience of the sweat and tears of transformation by practicing on yourself. Examples: What emotions come up, when you give up eating all animal based foods, even only for 30 days, or, why not once and for all? What emotions come up when you stop drinking that glass of wine or bottle of beer at the end of the day? What about your relationships that build on food and drink together? Your own cravings?

Whatever you cannot imagine to let go of: go and run an experiment now. It will teach you what people go through when they have to let go of something that is dear and near to their hearts: their privileges, their little daily comforts, their long established routines, and ultimately, their sense of identity.

Letting go of something we are used to is emotional for people. We see this even in those who plan or even actually set out to shift the way they do things without any prior threat to their health, job, or relationship. Although it is their desire to change something, they struggle. That’s why I focus on the importance of healing today.

Yes, transformational leaders need vision and purpose to create change. Without that, they are in danger to be a rudderless change maker. Yes, transformational leaders need enrolment skills to create change. Without that, they can never reach the hearts as well as the minds of people, and thus won’t find followers. In addition to that, what the world needs right now is healers, so as to become able to make a shift to a new way of living and interacting.

I watched a documentary the other day which followed the trauma and addiction expert Gabor Maté as he met and spoke with current and former patients. One thing that stuck out for me was the societal dimension of this documentary on trauma healing. Essentially Maté spoke to the suicide and addiction epidemics that are holding our world in their grips. The WHO counts more than 700 000 reported suicides annually, with many more failed attempts, and an unknown number of non-reported suicides. We see addiction all around us, not just in the streets or in the pubs, but also in rising numbers of diabetes and other food related diseases. In other words, when we talk about change for the sake of generational fairness, humane workplaces, or sustainable living with respect for the non-human world, we do this in the context of whole societies that are numbing themselves so as not have to face and shift their experience of reality.

Therefore, to be a grounded visionary, means to be a catalyst for the healing process that we have to collectively go through in order to rise to the present societal and environmental challenges we face. Only then can we begin to overcome the fear and greed which are threatening our societies. Only then can we recognise and overcome the ignorance that too many of us embrace when it comes to our own health, the health of our fellow human beings, and of our planet.

To be a grounded visionary starts with exploring our inner leader, with healing ourselves, with confronting our own fears and demons. From a grounded inner place, the grounded visionary can touch, move and inspire others to embrace their potential to be the change they are looking for.

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