During the month of May, there will be 38 sessions of the Institute held all around the country! Somewhere around 2,000 people will spend six days considering how they can lead and live with integrity, hold a healthy disregard for the impossible, and work towards a vision that is rooted in their most deeply held values.
Creating a vision is an exciting, challenging, and moving part of the week. It pushes each of us to consider how we want to make a positive impact in the world based on what we care about most.
Beyond the actual vision that this exercise helps us to create, participants are taught a process that can move them from having a vision to being visionary! We are grateful to have visionaries in the LeaderShape community and want to introduce you to one of them.
Meet Varun Arora! Varun is the CEO at OpenCurriculum, a California-based nonprofit education technology company that is helping K-12 teachers all around the world teach better. In 2011, Google named him a Zeitgeist Young Mind. Varun has a Bachelors and Masters in Information Systems Management from Carnegie Mellon University and participated in the Institute in Doha, Qatar in 2009. This is what he has to say about being visionary.
What does being visionary mean to you?
It actually is quite contradictory what it sounds like. It means being so so so close to the hopes, desires, and aspirations of the people whose lives you care to affect that you are able to see for their future what they are incapable of seeing themselves. And then believing in that future more than they can.
What do you think it takes for someone to have a visionary mindset?
A visionary mindset is a very hard skill be good or maintain because it requires a lot of work to build. It’s different from dreaming; dreaming involves casually thinking about a utopian future, but doesn’t actually focus on you understanding how to get from where you are to where you want yourself or your community to be in the future.
In my opinion, here are the quintessential traits a visionary mindset:
Discipline & focus
A visionary operates in the framework of the existing state of the world. To be able to imagine and create the future, he/she needs to understand the past and present in great depth and have a grounded understanding of why it is that something that does not work according to how he/she wishes it could. It takes enormous determination and effort to avoid distractions in this process of building understanding and making oneself skilled enough to do something about it. Distractions are hard to avoid because the entirety of human energy around you is hung up on the status quo.
It takes years and years of hard-work, and that’s only if you get lucky very often.
A vision is not something you see once and come back to on weekends or during “free time”. It is something you practice and improve upon every single waking minute. You practice the skills and tools at your disposal to achieve change. You practice how to deal with critique of your vision. You practice patience. You practice grit. Many of these skills are counter-intuitive, and thus, a visionary mindset isn’t something you have or don’t have, it is something anyone can build with hard-work, tradeoffs, and sincerity.
A vision is never static in nature. To conceive a complete change in how humans would behave or act in the future is impossible without making progress every single day towards that vision and evolving oneself and planned milestones during that journey. A vision is never achieved in its entirety – ever. Achievement is measured in progress towards that vision. A vision is only as beautiful as the progress made towards it.
What does being a visionary mean to you?
We hope you’ll share your thoughts in the comments!