Authors, speakers, and thought leaders typically have no shortage of great ideas. That’s a good thing! However, such enlightened individuals rarely know how to prioritize that seemingly endless list of game changing ideas they’ve gathered. Thought leaders have a brilliant idea, and they’re excited about it – but it never goes anywhere, and “the work” is never finished in their eyes. So, they get stuck.
Typically, a thought leader will try to focus on one project. A book, a new app, a tool, a partnership, a collaboration. But then, before the first project is complete, the thought leader moves on to something else. And then, something else. It’s not uncommon to find a potential client with 13 “things in the hopper” – and all at various stages of completion. These projects may stretch back months, or even years!
When I meet with such a thought leader and they tell me about their many projects, I always ask, “So when will x, y, and z be ready to go to market?” and, “What will success look like for you when you finish this project?” My words never fail to evoke an interesting combination of blank stares, throat clearing, and confused looks. “Finished?” they ask. Yes, complete. “Success for the project?” they look confused. Yes, a clear definition as to what success looks like for each initiative.
Logical? Yes. Do I hear definitive answers to my questions? Very rarely.
Thought leaders and authors are known to be creative, and that’s a gift, a blessing. However, it also takes focus, and discipline, and structure, in order to be able to be truly effective and connect with — or even inspire! — business audiences. Creativity is a thought leader’s muse. But structure, processes, and discipline are a thought leader’s best friends.
Prior to pouring energy, resources, effort, and money into an idea du jour, take a moment to consider if you will actually follow through on the project – with absolute commitment to seeing it finished. A dozen projects that never make it to the finish line are worth vastly less than one that has been properly completed. And, someone who can complete a few things very well will outperform those that have many plates spinning, but none completing their task.
Starting is easy. It’s pushing yourself through to the finish that causes many would-be leaders to fail. Those who have amazing ideas but can’t codify them will quickly be forgotten. Those who have amazing ideas, and know how to deliver on goals and deadlines, complete prototype projects, and improve business processes through strategic application of tested and sound ideas….those are the true thought leaders.