So I saw this brilliant innovator at the market the other morning. He built a knife sharpening wheel INTO his motorcycle. He just rode right up to the piazza and met his customers there. I thought to myself: that is my favorite kind of person – a creative visionary. Slightly nuts. Completely brilliant.
What do I mean by creative visionary? I mean someone who sees things a bit different from everyone else. Someone who doesn’t easily fit into a ‘job’ or a ‘role’. Often they are innovators. Often they are oddballs. Often they are trying to figure out where they fit in with everyone else with their talents and abilities. I think they are growing in numbers right now. As the world has less traditional ‘jobs’ and ‘roles’.
This is a good thing.
There is also sweeping demographic change happening in the world today. As generation Y takes the workforce by storm and the baby boomers are entering their second (or third or thirteenth) career and as our communities become even more ethnically diverse and more mobile. Also as the industrial era gives way to the information age, which gives way to another age of meaning and institutions give way to networks. We know SO much right now. We have more data than we know what to do with and we need an army of people who help us to navigate, understand and make sense of it all. These people are creative visionaries.
I like studying the special skill sets of these folks and am starting to identify a few key types that I keep encountering.
Translators/Generalists: These people are like walking Venn diagrams who sit between two or more cultures, who speak two or more languages. These languages might be English/French/Oromo or Engineer/Venture capitalist/Corporate trainer/conceptual artist. They are brilliant guides for the rest of the world trying to learn to navigate hybrid cultures. They often feel lost because they are not either/or but rather both/neither. My friend Susan is a global traveler who actively seeks out all sorts of translators and even co-created the brilliant Giant Steps conference with M.anifest to help them find one another.
Hosts: These people are passionate about creating the framework for the development and interaction of others. They are gifted at anticipating others’ needs, in setting the tone and atmosphere for whatever might transpire. They often feel lost, because their highest skills are engaged in response to others and in collaboration with others, which is undervalued in an individualistic/self-based culture. My friend Kate (who comes from a catering family) has a theory about a ‘hosting gene’ which I keep bugging her to write up (nudge, nudge) because I refer to it so often.
Specialists: These people are exceedingly good at one thing or field often to the point of obsession. This can often be richly rewarded by our culture, assuming that that one thing is something understood and traditionally valued as a profession (like Western medicine or Olympic training). If it is not, however, it can be difficult to for these people to make their way without learning how to build a network of support and connection for their process.
My motorini knife-sharpening friend is definitely a specialist.