Visionary or Dreamer: Which are You?

This morning in the shower, a question kept coming to mind and would not leave (keep in mind, I am in a drug induced state from over the counter cold medicines).

“What is the difference between a visionary and a dreamer?” my mind asked over and over again. What makes someone with a vision for the future different from someone that dreams of the future?

Looking up the words in a dictionary is not much help. The definition for visionary ranges from “someone with supernatural powers” to “one who is given to impractical ideas.” Dreamer definitions don’t seem much better in explaining a difference. They range from “someone who lives in a world of fancy and imagination” to “a habitually impractical person.” Frequently, the visionary definition includes the term dreamer and vice versa.

This is not going to be easy to sort through and come up with a good working definition for the two words. They both have very different meanings to me, but that might be just me.

Here is what I think about the two words.

A visionary is someone who sees the possibility of a better future.
A dreamer is someone who see the possibility of a better future.

A visionary is someone who is able to articulate the vision?
A dreamer is someone who is unable to articulate the dream.

A visionary is someone who can inspire others to see the vision.
A dreamer is someone without the ability to lead.

A visionary is someone who can gather a team together that believes in the vision.
A dreamer is someone who will not share because “they wouldn’t understand.”

A visionary is someone who can elicit actions from others to accomplish the vision.
A dreamer is someone without the desire to see the dream accomplished.

A visionary is someone who sees the vision from the 30,000 feet level.
A dreamer is someone without the ability to set goals and achieve actions.

A visionary is someone who realizes that to accomplish the vision, requires people.
A dreamer is someone without the ability to lead others to see the dream.

A visionary is someone who knows that actions are required to get to the vision.
A dreamer is someone who fancies themselves smarter than others, so it doesn’t matter.

A visionary is someone who understands accountability and adheres to standards.
A dreamer is someone who doesn’t want to be held accountable for not achieving the dream.

A visionary is someone who has to take action to accomplish the vision
A dreamer is someone who sees action as something that would spoil the dream.

I think the difference comes down to a word, ACTION. A visionary acts, and a dreamer dreams. A visionary does, and a dreamer does not. A visionary says it can be done, a dreamer say it is impossible. A visionary can’t wait to get up and get started, a dreamer goes back to sleep.

Which are you, a visionary or a dreamer? Which do you want to be? A new year is beginning and a fresh start can be made, if you want to put in the effort.

Visionaries are leaders and after all, that is what we are all about … leading and making a difference, so choose every day to be a visionary.

19 thoughts on “Visionary or Dreamer: Which are You?”

  1. Troy, there is more to say, but the house move got in the way. I do want to address our choices and where there might be blending. As with all things about human nature, there will be some middle ground, but a dominant side will win out most of the time. I look forward to getting into more depth with this discussion.

  2. Thanks for the comment Austin. Action will always trump non-action when it comes leadership. Continue action! Don’t be tempted by only the dream.

  3. Hi!!..It is intersting to watch this kind of motivation & I am a leader of one non governmental youth organization in Ethiopia . this help me more thanh u for ur effort & I am asking you to send me more which is related with psycho motivational ideas . Thank you

  4. Well, it is all about perspective. The one that I have is first you have to dream to be a visionary. No vision will have its foundation without a dream. And the foundation can not be belittled because it is not visible. when onlooker praise any architecture they get to see only what starts from the groun level. That does not mean foundation did not ‘raise’ upto some standards..
    In short every visionary is first a dreamer. it is seperate thing that some dreamer fail to become visionary subsequently.

  5. I had a small mobile wash service business in 1995. I went bank bankrupt after becoming sick and lost business. For the last 15+ years I have been in restaurant management dreaming of bringing back the small business at the right time. Now is the time. ACTION MUST BE TAKEN. Becoming a visionary I see the end result and it is good.
    Your comparison of a dreamer and visionary is right on. Thank you.

  6. This well written. I agree totally. I never did feel comfortable when someone described my quest as a dream. Its not a dream, its my vision and I take full action upon it everyday.

  7. I love this!!!

    A dream is needed, its what drives us in the moring gives us passion!!
    But Reality is that to accomplish these dreams we dont only need to be dreamers of what we want but Visonary peoplel that can make the our dreams come true… With out vision it is impossible to act and know where it is these dreams are taking us!!

    Very well written i love it!!!

  8. I actually have to disagree with you. Although you may be right about visionaries being leaders, dreamers have dreams and hence do not think it’s impossible. Personally I just think that dreamers are a little more chaotic and unorganized in their ways, that’s all. But it is not necessarily that they lack the enthusiasm…
    In you writing, dreamers seem to have a random negative bias, and I don’t see it that way

  9. Thanks for commenting, Monica. I like that the article got you thinking about the differences … that’s always the point of writing.

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