how to be a visionary
“If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.” — Gospel of St. Thomas
I read an article about the top 10 regrets of the dying. Four regrets stood out for me in particular:
I should have pursued my dreams and aspirations.
I should have said “I love you” more.
I should have spoken my mind.
I should have had the courage to live truthfully.
All these regrets could be bundled into the failure to live an authentic life.
An authentic life, by its very nature, is a creative life, and rebellious. You push back against the life that others would hand you. You learn to say ‘no’ a lot. And in that space of independence you form the intentions, and make the choices, that carve out an existence that resonates with who you are at core.
This also enables you to resonate with others: to connect, to create intimacy, to inspire.
The word ‘authentic’ has gotten a bad rap: overused to the point where it doesn’t really mean anything anymore. Some argue that it should be retired altogether. I still use it because it means something very specific to me, which I will now attempt to explain to you, Dear Reader:
An authentic life is when your inner life finds full, compelling expression in your outer life.
When the way you present yourself to the world feels like an accurate depiction of who you are at core.
When you can give voice to your inner life in a way that connects with the inner lives of others — so that they see aspects of themselves in you. You express what they couldn’t, or wouldn’t, or didn’t know that they needed to, or that they even had in them in the first place. This allows them to know themselves better.
I think of that as resonance.
Resonance is an art. And art – short for ‘artifice’ — involves more than honest self-expression: it requires the skills, tools, practice and mastery to bring what’s inside of you, outside, in a way that has meaning and relevance for other people.
Get really good at this, and you just might deliver a vision that changes the shape of reality itself.
People who do this are called visionaries. Eckhart Tolle describes them as people
“that function from the deeper core of their being – those who do not attempt to appear more than they are, but as simply themselves, stand out as remarkable, and are the only ones who truly make a difference in the world…Their mere presence, simple, natural and unassuming, has a transformational effect on whomever they come into contact with.”
I like that: people who function from the deeper core of their being.
Sounds so easy, so simple.
One of my favorite recent blog posts is Danielle LaPorte’s The Myth About Following Your Intuition. In it she takes umbrage at self-help gurus who make it sound that once you tune into your inner knowing – your core – your deeper being – the rest of your life will slide magically into place.
“Following your intuition ain’t always an act of grace — it can be a total grind. You will have to burn things. You might sweat, toil and dig dig dig to do what you know must be done. Following your intuition might call on you to do the hardest thing you’ve ever done in your life.”
Following your intuition – functioning from the deeper part of your being – takes courage. And it’s worth noting that the word courage, according to Brene Brown, derives from the Latin word ‘heart’ (cour) and originally meant:
To tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.
Which strikes me as a great definition of the authentic – the ‘wholehearted’ — life.