“It is to be remembered that all art is magical in origin – music, sculpture, writing, painting – and by magical I mean intended to produce very definite results. Paintings were originally formulae to make what is painted happen.” –William S Burroughs.
The famous beat writer, William S Burroughs, had an idea that the purpose of writing (and art in general) was about “making it happen.”
The creative person (aka the artist) has a vision of the thing she would like to see in the world – everything from capturing an emotionally-charged fleeting moment (Vincent Van Gogh) to expressing a spiritual state (William Blake) to starting a political movement (Emmeline Pankhurst) to creating a business (John D Rockefeller). To bring it into being, they create a narrative about it i.e. a painting, a novel, an enterprise, or a social movement.
This means, before we can invent modernism, we need an artist like Picasso showing us what “modern” might actually look like. Before we launch a political revolution, we need people like Adams or Jefferson writing pamphlets about why that scenario might be preferable to the current status quo. Before we build a company like Starbucks, we first need an entrepreneur like Howard Shultz wanting to spread the romantic idea of the Italian cafe back in the US.
In his book, Principles, Ray Dalio describes leadership as something very similar: having the ability to a) visualize a future state be it physical, spiritual, emotional, or all three and b) find the people and the resources needed to make it happen.
The thing to remember about great leaders (and great artists), is that they don’t just wave their magic wand and Voila – Amazing results! No, for amazing to happen they must be able to enroll others.
Caesar could have all the great military strategies in the world, but without a great culture that comes with a large, disciplined army with VERY tough, capable men willing to fight and die on his behalf, he was no more powerful than your average Mom n’ Pop store.