Gauging Your Thoughtleading Potential: Part Three
On July 25, 2013 | 0 Comments

Excerpted from Ken’s book The Expert’s Edge as a seven-part series.Ken Lizotte

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 third question:

Are You Interested in Writing and Publishing an Article or a Book?

The question here is not whether you have written and published anything or whether you would be willing to do so, but rather whether you have any interest in doing so. Because to achieve their expert’s edge, genuine thoughtleaders must do this, and do it on a regular basis. To attain this characteristic, it helps enormously if you actually perceive personal benefits from writing. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you must find the writing process enjoyable, just that you must see value in the doing of it.

• Would writing an article or a book help you clarify your thinking? Veteran thoughtleaders report that it does.

• Would writing an article or a book provide additional insight into your stated expertise? Veteran thoughtleaders report that it does.

• Would writing an article or a book help you think faster on your feet when making your case to your prospects or when speaking to a group about your ideas? Veteran thoughtleaders report that it does.

But thoughtleader jitters often get in the way of this one, too. In this case, the jitters sound like this:

• I am not a good writer.

• I don’t like to write.

• I tried writing an article once and it got rejected.

• I once published an article and nothing happened.

All of these statements may be true, but none of them justifies a decision not to publish. Taken individually, here’s how I’d respond:

I am not a good writer.

• It doesn’t matter. You are an expert; you know things; you have content to offer; you can provide the substance of a good article. Editors out there are hoping every day that you will pitch them an article idea based on your expert knowledge; if  necessary, they will even work with you to shape up your writing. Most likely you’ll discover that your writing is not as bad as you have been thinking it is.

Once you’re over that hurdle, you’ll be writing prolifically, no longer selfconscious.

I don’t like to write.

• It doesn’t matter. Do it anyway. Hate every second of it if you must, but do it anyway. Thoughtleading is for grown-ups—it’s time to face up to your challenges and responsibilities. They don’t give fame and fortune away, you know! Besides, after writing a few pieces and getting them published, you’ll most likely discover that this jitter is closely related to the first one (I am not a good writer). You probably just think you don’t like to write because you’re afraid to face the possibility that your writing is so bad that it will be rejected. Odds are that won’t happen.

I tried writing an article once and it got rejected.

• So what? Did you submit it to a second, third, and fourth publication? Had you made sure before you submitted it that the publication actually prints articles by outsiders, and not just by members of its own staff? Had you made sure that your article’s length (word count) would fit the space requirements this publication has established for an article like yours?

It’s a pretty good bet that you answered no to at least one of these questions. Learn the rules of the writing/publishing game so as to set yourself up for success. We’ll cover those rules in a later chapter in The Expert’s Edge.

I once published an article and nothing happened.

• And what exactly were you expecting to have happen? Publishing an article is only a first step; the next is to use your article as a business development tool.

Again, know the rules of the game, in this case the marketing and selling game. This too is covered later in The Expert’s Edge. It wasn’t the process of publishing an article that went wrong—it was your unrealistic expectations.

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