Excerpted from Ken’s book The Expert’s Edge as a seven-part series.
Is it time to find out if you indeed are thoughtleader material?
Maybe you’re a thoughtleader already and don’t know it. Or maybe you do know it, or suspect it, but could use some validation. Finally, do you secretly fear that perhaps you’re not up to the task?
We are all thoughtleaders on some level. If you are an expert on anything at all (engineering, human resources, management, Chinese history, bartending, roofing), you are at least on the launchpad. You see, all thoughtleaders are experts, although not all experts are thoughtleaders. Thoughtleaders are experts who have made a commitment to optimizing their expertise and fine-tuning their expert’s edge.
So in case your own misconceptions have created “thoughtleader jitters” that have been holding you back, here’s a “Thoughtleading Inventory” composed of seven questions and commentaries designed to help you gauge your personal and professional thoughtleading potential. Perhaps this inventory can put your jitters at rest andget you blasting off and away from your thoughtleader launchpad. This installment explores the first question:
1. Are You an Entrepreneurial Personality?
You probably are if you are reading this eblast. Thoughtleading is all about trying something new, and this book permits you to investigate how a thoughtleading strategy might engender in you the expert’s edge. Diving deep into the subject of thoughtleading suggests a learning personality, a prime characteristic of entrepreneurialism.
And although the term entrepreneurs is typically associated with people who own and run their own businesses, you can also be an entrepreneur within the structure of a firm that you do not own, but that instead employs you. Traditionally such people have been called “intrapreneurs,” but they can go by other names as well, such as “corporate entrepreneurs.” Susan Foley, managing partner of Corporate Entrepreneurs LLC, writing in her book Entrepreneurs Inside: Accelerating Business Growth with Corporate Entrepreneurs (Xlibris), describes the corporate entrepreneurial personality this way:
“Corporate entrepreneurs are independent thinkers that are looking for meaning at work.They see corporate entrepreneurship as a way to test their skills, flex their muscle and push the edge of the envelope. Corporate entrepreneurs strongly believe in what they are doing and are focused on the end goal. They are creative and find innovative ways to solve problems. They are the creators, doers and implementers that make things happen.
“Corporate entrepreneurs are dedicated to the project and loyal to the team. They recognize the value of diversity, commitment and trust. They work effectively as an individual contributor and team member. They may not like everyone but they respect them for their contribution. They collectively create a new entrepreneurial culture inside the existing organization. . . .
“Corporate entrepreneurs are [also] creative. They are motivated and energized when creating and building something new. They are the early adopters of ideas. They see ideas not for what they are but what they can become. Corporate entrepreneurs are individual contributors that are interested creating value and moving the company forward. As a result they gravitate toward those projects at the beginning of the business development life cycle.”
The key to unleashing your entrepreneurial side in your quest to become a thoughtleader, as even the corporate entrepreneurial personality displays, is for you is to eliminate whatever personal “blocks” might be getting in the way of allowing you to think deeply, think creatively, trust and have faith, develop interesting ideas, and firmly commit to a breakthrough result.
If, for example, your response is this: “Yes, it all sounds good, but I just don’t have the time,” you may be trapping yourself with so many day-to-day operational details that you will never carve out even small amounts of time to experiment and follow through with thoughtleading actions. If that’s you, you need to make a promise to yourself to spend X hours a day or X days a week undertaking thoughtleading adventures. Obviously, my book is a fabulous starting place.
But you can’t let it end here. Dr. Robert S. Litwak, the former chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York City, recalls that in his days as a resident, despite the round-the-clock shifts that hospital resident doctors were required to endure in those days, he used to promise himself an hour every 24 hours in which he could study and learn whatever he wanted. That usually meant holing up in the hospital library and allowing himself to read purely for curiosity and pleasure. He recalls a mantra that helped him keep this promise to himself: “That’s 23 hours for the hospital and 1 for Bob!”
So declare your own hour or two of free time every day so that you too can pursue what you choose. Use the time to develop your thoughtleading self. Stop telling yourself that you don’t have the time.