It seems like everyone wants to be a thought leader these days. All sorts of people are cropping up with posts of deep, meaningful wisdom or challenging views on their blogs, profound personal philosophies delivered with grave sincerity of a Hindu guru scattered across the internet.
Forgive me if I seem a little jaded, but I think this thought leader business is getting a little out of hand.
It’s great that blogs let people voice opinions and share them with others, but I think bloggers could use a good dose come-back-down-to-earth with a dash of humble tossed in. Posting opinions just make us people with opinions. Not thought leaders.
Now, opinions are good. I believe we should all have them, and we should voice them (nicely). Hearing the opinions of others can be beneficial, and it’s often inspiring to read something written by a person full of passion for his or her beliefs.
We pay attention to these people, too. We like authority and people who have conviction, who stand up and speak their mind with confidence. We read, we listen, we compare these opinions against our own, and we contemplate because of them.
Do we do anything about them? Does the person voicing all this great wisdom do anything? Being a person who gets attention for opinions doesn’t make anyone a thought leader. At least, not in my opinion, no pun intended.
When you state a good opinion on your blog, everyone nods, comments, shares, and discusses. They spread the news around the blogosphere. Well done. People like what you’ve said. But nothing’s really happened yet. Only half the equation’s been fulfilled. It’s all talk and no action.
Now there’s a thought: action. What happened to that? A lot of the wannabe thought leaders out there impart plenty of smart ideas – but where’s the revolution? Is anything changing because of these great thoughts?
Well, no, not really. It’s more like ego games than game-changing.
See, here’s the thing: leaders lead – they bring people places. If a leader isn’t walking the talk, literally, and taking the audience from the auditorium to Olympus… well, that’s not leading at all. That’s standing in the spotlight while delivering a monologue. The crowd goes home and says, “Heard a great speech today. You should’ve been there. Pass the ketchup, please.”
And life goes on.
I know it can be a heady feeling to have people listen to you and tell you that you have great thoughts. But if all you can do is sit on your throne slinging opinions about, you aren’t a thought leader. If you want to be a thought leader, have thoughts, absolutely – but lead with them.
Show us places others haven’t gone before. Bring us with you. Stir our spirits and get us moving from where we are now to where you want us to be. Innovate ideas that make our lives better. Create impact, cause reactions and make something happen with your ideas. Don’t just sit there telling us what we should do if you’re not doing it yourself.
It takes guts to walk the talk, I know. It’s easier to just sit back on the laurels of blogging and post stuff that sounds smart. It’s not so easy to influence people and provoke society to evolve and change. To create insight people can actually put into action? It takes hard work and conviction. It takes courage and dedication and fortitude. It takes strength. Integrity. Purpose.
And it takes more than a handful of laurels to sit on.