As a thought leader, you may be great at telling stories through a presentation deck,…
Authors and thought leaders tend to be very creative folks. They enjoy producing new content, testing out their ideas, and seem to have a never ending back log of “stuff” they want to develop and work on. That can be a really good thing and it can also be a bad thing.
Let me explain, all of our resources are finite — time, energy, money, ideas — by choosing to do X you’ve decided to not do Y. When you’re a thought leader the goal should be to create with intent. To have some guardrails, some parameters so that you have a process that enables you to hone your creative focus towards things that are aligned to your business strategy. This doesn’t mean you’ll never get to dabble in a different medium or experiment with ideas you haven’t quite refined. It means that you are clear about what your intent is when you create content.
Your intent could be to scratch a creative itch, to have some fun, or to just think something through. It could also be to further refine something you learned from a client. You may be drawn to create by a concept that popped into your head or something that has been gnawing at you. These drivers stimulate the creative process and if we pause and ask what is the objective of the goal then we can produce more of what is relevant and less of what is extraneous. I realize relevant and extraneous are subjective terms but I’m using them with regards to the goals and objectives of your business. If you are committed to going after the leadership space and all of your resources are aligned to create content for sales people, that is a distraction, not something that will further your business goals.
Constraints actually accelerate the creative process, a lack of intent hinders it. If I put you in front of a canvas and hand you a paintbrush and ask you to ‘create’ something how would you respond? Most of us will stand there and stare at a blank canvas for a long time waiting for something awesome to randomly come to us. It’s frustrating. But, if I put you in front of the same canvas and ask you to paint an apple or a kid in a sandbox you still have the freedom to express yourself in any way that you see fit. I’ve given you some guidelines that speed the process up and allow you to get started with a clear objective in mind. It does not inhibit your creativity at all — it actually releases it.
So, while it may feel a bit counter-intuitive to you creatives, I’d strongly suggest to add a touch of process, a little bit of constraint, and a dose of strategy to the process of creating and developing top notch content.
For more on sharpening your creative focus, check out Are Your Strategy, Tactics and Goals in Alignment?, Deliberate Strategy + Creative Motivation = Astounding Results, or Are You Strategy Avoidant?