Are You a Pioneer?

What distinguishes pioneers from more conventional leaders, creative artists, and ordinary nonconformists? I have a theory. Pioneers may also fall into any of the above categories, and tend to share some characteristic traits with people who fit those labels more accurately. Pioneers often find themselves advocating change, I believe, because they hold these traits in unusual combinations.

Inner motivation combined with outward focus

Like creative artists, pioneers hold visions that differ from those of other people in the environment. They can’t resolve the anxiety the dissonance causes by expressing the vision symbolically in any medium. The drive is to change the actual events and circumstances in the environment.

Powerful but uninterested in power

I do mean “uninterested” rather than “disinterested.” The pioneer often projects an aura of power through high energy and intensity, strong opinions, confidence, and a tendency to question authority. In fact, pioneers often come late to leadership roles because they don’t really crave being “in charge.” Many will say that they took charge of something only as a last resort, as the only way to get sufficient freedom to pursue their own goals or as the means to correcting a percieved injustice.

An “old soul” and “young at heart”

This may be the signature mark of the pioneer, the thing parents and teachers might notice long before any pattern of accomplishment emerges. Pioneers are concerned with timeless and existential questions; they enjoy the company of much older people and are continuously at work on articulating a personal philosophy of life. They are also open to new technologies, experiences, and people, when those novelties can be pressed into service of important goals.

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