The perils of being a thought leader
I've been watching a lot of cycling recently. From the comfort of my armchair, I find the slow, tactical buildup quite relaxing. For the majority of the race it's a controlled test of rhythm, strength and endurance before those riders still in the frame make a late sprint for the line. What I find fascinating though is the breakaway attacks, those moments of courage, or madness, when a few escape the peloton and charge off hoping they can maintain their push out in front, quite often all alone and with no barometer for success other than their own conviction.
Being a thought leader is no different.....
If you take the assumption that the making a digital branding splash in your chosen industry requires you to become a thought leader in your field, then we must learn to face a quite blunt reality. Only a few can be leaders; they are those at the front that have emerged from the noisy mass of undistinguished pedalling and triumphed, if only momentarily.
Not only is hitting the front in the first place hard work, but staying in front alone is mentally challenging. Most pursuits of thought leadership rely on the same attitudes demonstrated by top cyclists. Without constant publishing (or pedalling) it's difficult to emerge from the crowd. Consistency and routine, boring though that makes the process, are the key attributes. Once you hit your rhythm, have built the confidence to have a real go and the lead, a new type of work begins. Everyone is watching to see if you fall off or run out of steam.
My tip is this. Set realistic goals. Don't set mental expectations for a race that you are physically (or financially) not ready to compete in. Genuine thought leadership requires your content to be good enough, your consistency to unbreakable and your assault on the lead requires resources; blogs, videos, podcasts, emails, speaking roles are the resources you need to stay out in front and to leave the others behind, but go too fast before you find your stride and you can easily fall off and loose your confidence.