Visionaries: You Must Be a Leader and You Must Have a Plan

I love science fiction with a passion that is beyond reason. It delights me utterly.

I love it because it expands our limited thinking in the most unbelievable ways. And since I espouse and delight in such expansive, biggifying thinking, well, sci-fi pretty much always makes my day.

Can’t Stop the Signal?

This weekend, one of my all-time favorite sci-fi shows — Firefly — experienced a fascinating resurgence. It was cancelled shortly into production in 2002 after a short-sighted move on the part of a big network (Fox). The fans of the show have been pining for more ever since.

On Twitter last week, in response to the news that the show will be airing again on the Science Channel, the lead actor, Nathan Fillion, mentioned that if he were to win the lottery, he’d buy the rights to the show, make new episodes, and release them on the internet.

The fans of the show have gone wild with tweets, comments, and speculation ever since, and have even kicked a fund raising campaign idea into gear to try to get the show back on the air, again (apparently there have been other past attempts with unfortunate outcomes).

Why am I telling you all this?

What fascinates me about this is that while an anonymous fan has jumped into action to set up a fund raising website, the project doesn’t seem to be gaining much momentum. I think this is true for a few key reasons:

1. There is no clear leader on the project. The person who has set up the website has chosen to remain anonymous. I think this undermines his or her credibility.

On the other hand, I personally think this project would have a much better chance of success with leadership from the visionary series creator, Joss Whedon, or at very least the lead actor, Nathan Fillion. If they were taking the lead on this, with a good team to help them implement it, I think nothing in the ‘verse could stop it.

2. There is no clear plan for the project. The basic idea floated on the fan website is this: We’ll figure it out once we get the go-ahead from Fillion. The issue I have with this is that there isn’t enough for him or other leaders to respond to. Lots of good ideas but no clear plan. I think the folks behind the scheme might want to consider laying out a serious campaign and a serious approach so that the Powers That Be have something tangible and real to respond to.

3. The role of the followers is muddy. As fans, do “we” have the power to take on a project like this? I’ve been asking myself that question pretty seriously over the last few days, and thinking closely about whether or not I want jump on board and make a proposal to make this project happen.

On the one hand, it’s a perfect “Browncoat Rebellion” against the evil (Network) Alliance — a more show-paralleling campaign could not have been better designed.

On the other hand, even in the show, they still had the captain to lead the charge. :)

Visionaries Take Note

What can we learn from this? We visionaries who want to deeply impact the world with our ideas, art, messages, and insights…

1. If you want to see your vision come to fruition, you have to be the leader — be someone other people can follow. Sure, you can empower people to take action on your behalf or even design a plan. But your followers need clear vision, leadership, and sense of direction before they can get started. That’s going to come from you, the leader.

(Joss? Nathan? Anonymous fan website guy? Anyone?)

2. You must have a clear, actionable plan in order to make your vision real. With details, strategies, and purpose. Personally, I’d LOVE to see Firefly get back on the air. In this case, designing a powerful, clear, decisive campaign is in order, with time lines, a crowd funding platform, and promotion strategies.

When contemplating our own vision, think about how you can design a practical, real, step-by-step plan to make it so.

3. It’s not enough to just have a good idea and a plan — you also have be passionate enough about it to get into action with it AND see it through. Someone — ideally you — has to take the reins, be a leader, and get into action making your vision real. The passion will carry it forward from there. Right now, this Firefly project is a brilliant idea filled with passion — but no clear leadership and no real plan.


Your Turn

  • Where are you with your vision? What is it about?
  • What is your plan to bring it into being?
  • Is your passion in place to help you see it through?
  • Or — what does this article spark in your thinking about your vision?

Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

(Browncoats — your comments, opinions, and debates are welcome too.)


What’s Jenna Up To?

~> February 25, 2011 at 11:30 a.m. Pacific Time. Special call with guest Isabel Parlett on “How to Say What You Do, When What You Do is Deep, Powerful, and Hard to Describe.” Register here.

~> March 1, 2011. My Artist’s Way Accountability & Support Group starts. For details send a blank email here.

~> May 2011. My next Voice Your Vision retreat will be held in Berkeley, California. Specific dates and registration details to be announced. A special savings will be available if you’ve already had your hands analyzed.



  1. So I totally love Firefly. I’d like to see it back. However, there is the practical pieces that seem to be forgotten when people want to bring back a show. Usually it is that not enough other people also liked it or watched it.

    It is an important reminder that when you like something, tell all your friends about it. For completely selfish reasons of course.

    I love the conversation about visionaries having a plan so they have something to work with. I have a plan and I work it everyday. Most days I experience success, satisfaction and fulfillment. So, there is that, even if Firefly doesn’t make it back on the air.

    • Miriam, thanks for commenting. Good to know you are a fellow Browncoat. :) Looks like the folks over at #HNBF are working on the practical details. We’ll see what happens.

  2. Joshua North says:

    You make a very good point on that. As of right now, it seems that we are all waiting for a clear, defined point that will make or break this movement, and that will be based on if it can get a leader behind the wheel. Right now, pulling a good symbolism from Firefly, we have a crew (the fans), we have a helmsman (the guy behind the website), but we lack the captain.

    As disappointing as it would be to see this fall face first in the mud, all we can do at this point is just sit back, allow the fans to continue showing their support and wait until the captain shows up. And hopefully when the captain shows up, we will have a good, clearly defined plan to follow it up also.

    • Joshua, I agree about waiting for the clear, defined point that will make it or break it. Intriguing, isn’t it?

      I really like your role comparison about the helmsman, the crew, but no captain. Nice.

      Great points. Thanks for commenting.

  3. Very good points about needing a captain, though I am often torn between two methods of moving groups forward: the “grassroots” non-hierarchical or amorphous team ideal, and its flip-side, the (hopefully)charisma-laden captain who leads the masses to victory… effective yes, but there is a downside.
    As a sensitive person I have experienced both methods and it depends entirely upon what you are trying to achieve, but NOT having a captain means that consensus can happen with more folks having input, slower yes, but the movement lasts even if the captain jumps ship (or never shows up!).
    RE: Firefly, I read some buzz about getting Serenity MOVIE sequels made, which sounds much more likely to occur, just as Star Trek fan-uprising history shows us.


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