Balance Dreaming, Thinking & Doing – your Inner Visionary, Manager, & Soldier

I’ve written this one for me lol – as it’s something I am thinking through – but also importantly for assorted friends for whom this would seem to be really helpful right now at this time of great and rapid transition in society.

If you feel stressed, are reacting to life, being blown around by the winds and the tides it’s a great way of taking control back of your life and its direction.  It’s also an ongoing discipline to make sure you embody each of these for enough hours each week to keep your life in balance 🙂



Visionary-Manager-Soldier is a simple but very powerful transformational model I picked up when I finally read the New Manual 2.0 (about 2yrs after downloading it lol) a free e-book from Tripp Lanier who does the NewMan Podcast which I have mentioned once or twice in TTEM re some cool interviews.


This model says we all have an inner Visionary, Manager, and Soldier.  In my words, not quoting – I’m riffing on the theme (and adding a dash of Gerber’s time-orientation in his (earlier) Entrepreneur, Manager, Technician model):

Visionary – responsible for deciding on direction and what one wants to do/go/achieve in life. Future-focused. WHAT do you want in life?

Manager – responsible for using the resources at hand, and finding missing ones and translating the practical vision into an executable plan.  Past-focused (always uses ways that worked in the past). HOW are you going to get what you want?

Soldier – the grunt who just executes orders gets things done.  Present-focused – does stuff now. DO it!

OK so far so good.  Get the gist? Nice and simple?

It’s a great exercise to take three pieces of paper stick the title at the top, wear that hat and just write it out.


Results of an Imbalance in your Visionary, Manager and Soldier team

Of course in practice these three are not in balance. I bet y’all know folks whose Visionary appears to have dropped dead years ago. Or whose Manager is just not up to planning their dreams (so they rely on magical thinking such as hoping they win the lottery or get different results next time from the same old failed approaches). Or whose solider is always goofing off and smoking in the bike sheds 🙂

We can also frame Visionary, Manager and Soldier as Dreaming, Thinking, Doing.  I bet y’all know folks who dream too much and do too little to achieve those dreams.  Equally there are those who are bogged down in doing, or lost in thinking about doing…

Tripp’s main issue that he finds with coaching clients is “an absent Visionary”.  If the Visionary does not “turn up to work” then the Manager will just fill in by basing the vision on what is immediately to hand, what is possible with what we know and have – and that of course leads to life lived in a tiny space (as most of life, metaphorically speaking, is more than an arm’s length away). About doing the Visionary page Tripp says:

My advice? Push yourself. Be willing to scare yourself with
the truth. Have fun with it. Get curious. Give yourself
freedom of expression. Only you can do this.

A poor Manager will give rubbish orders which will lead to the soldier marching backwards and forwards, left and right going nowhere.  No real plan to implement the vision.  You can have a fine vision but you need the fine plan to go with it and fine execution of the plan. [And before anyone is thinking planning is very yang – indeed it is – however “no plan survives first contact with the enemy” – and in reality dealing with what turns up and coping/reacting (more yin)  is of course part of battles and business and life].

Tripp’s second finding is that most of the time our resistance to something isn’t really
the fear of change. It’s just that we don’t know what to do.  I recall “a drowning man doesn’t need encouragement he needs instructions on how to swim!”.  I am reminded of David Allen (he of the famous Get Things Done) who says that most people’s items on their to-do list are “projects not tasks” – “find love” “have a great Xmas”.  In the Visionary-Manager-Soldier model we might say that this is a case where the Visionary has done his job but the Manager is not on the case.

A Soldier without clear and simple executable orders will first just keep doing what he has always done and then get dispirited, get up to no good and before you know it will be rebellious, self-destructive and unfit.  The soldier needs clear and consistent discipline.


My thoughts on how this applies to me…

OK I have just sketched around this one as my aim is to pass the vibe over to you.  You can riff on this one I am sure.

For me I think I have a great classic Soldier.  I can now see that given clear orders my inner Soldier achieves a hell of a lot.  Given unclear or no orders he gets pissed off, out of shape and moans.

My Visionary doesn’t turn up too often – a bit scared away by the managerial nature of mid-life and the sheer time it takes “keeping all the plates spinning”.  However when he does, he comes up with some good answers, albeit perhaps very high-level/abstract (“love”, “peace” etc).

I guess my Manager – probably due to-overwork – is more challenged right now.  In the absence of the Visionary he tends to keep the show on the road as best as he can – but this leads to a sense of muddling through, no real direction.  With a vision he tends to find it hard to source the missing links – but that may be more our current economic structure than entirely his fault and/or due to the Visionary giving these too high-level visions.

Net net for me I think this model means I need to be clearer for the Soldier – give him the tasks and he will bash them out.  The Manager needs a holiday and to hang out with some managers who make things happen to expand his world vision of achievability.  The Visionary needs to turn up to work and be a little less abstract.


How does this apply to you?

How does this all work for you?  How are your inner Visionary, Manager and Soldier performing?  What remedial action would help?

How can you use this model to make your life better?  Do you have a vision or are you just kind of muddling along till you die?

Best avoid that endgame which involves lying there, when your ticket for trips round the sun has expired, staring at the ceiling thinking “I wish I had…”

Take action now dudes!  Give some thought to what you want in life.  Get your Visionary to do his job! Pass that vision onto the manager to turn into a plan and then soldier on 🙂



3 thoughts on “Balance Dreaming, Thinking & Doing – your Inner Visionary, Manager, & Soldier

  1. Mike Post author

    A very solid, capable buddy of mine emailed me that he loved this post and:

    Clarifying the steps is one big task for me – once got steps can deliver OK! Useful! Thanks – note to self work more on the manager!!

    Which was interesting as I know this guy is very good at managing things. Decades of experience. As above there is great benefit in simple models for oneself (otherwise you end up all Belbin – which is great but you just need a team of management consultants to do it lol). One tweak in the model though would be that it may well be that the gap between Vision and Soldier is too great for one man/role/activity to bridge. In some circumstances this could perhaps be better broken down into “Strategist” and “Tactician” rather than “Manager”.

    So for example part of my Vision is to help folks by sharing useful stuff that can improve their lives. Right now the Strategist decides to produce content on TTEM and TTBD. The Tactician then has to decide on what type of content fits where etc and keep these channels going. And the Soldier bashes out the posts.

    To extend this further it’s all about making good use of the soldier’s limited time and energy. So if I find that this sharing process is inefficient, if the soldier is spending hours but not getting many eyeballs on the articles then its up to the Strategist to come up with new strategies which in that case would address visibility.

    So if you too feel you are good on vision and soldiering but weak in the middle try and break it down into Strategy of implementing the Vision and the Tactics to implement those Strategies.

    Let me know if this helps or any thoughts/experience you have 🙂

  2. Padma

    I like this! It reminds me of a couple of things – a Jungian book I read years ago called something like ‘King, Warrior, Magician, Lover’. This went into functional and dysfunctional expressions of the archetypes which I quite liked (eg the warrior must be in the service of the king in order to avoid being a simple hooligan).

    The other was ‘Finding your own north star’ by Martha Beck. She talks about the social self and the, er, some other self. Essential self? More fundamental, creative, spontaneous type self. She said the social self makes an excellent servant but a terrible master. Kind of like the soldier and manager wrapped into one in your model.

    1. Mike Post author

      Thanks for your thoughts Padma. Yes indeed there are many models and this one isn’t original (just simple and sticky language). What I liked about this one is the emphasis on DOING it … not just more brain fodder, cool memes.

      I really recommend getting 3 Sheets of A3 and labelling them Vision, Management, Soldier and spending dedicated time “wearing that hat” “with that sheet”. Otherwise we all have clogged to-do lists which contain all sorts of types of things.

      To one chum I recommended leaving a blank sheet of paper lying around his house (as he has no vision). Interestingly enough even doing that then led him to have a cool “directioning dream”.

      Anyway as you are the Buddhist expert these days with a cool blog at 🙂 you know the whole spirit of orthopraxy not orthodoxy. Doing, using, trying, experimenting, finding out for oneself 🙂


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