My next mentoring session really propelled me forward. I caught a vision of who I want to be. The list contained respect, balance, succinctness, relaxation, and harnessed passion, but there was still more to add to this list. I expressed to my mentor that I wanted to be a thought leader.
One attribute of thought leaders is continuous learning. The skills for the job will constantly change. Technologies constantly change. People change. I must continuously learn and grow.
Also important to being a thought leader is being vulnerable enough to describe not only successes, but failures. One of my heroes is Clay Christensen, a professor at Harvard Business School, co-founder of Innosight, and author of How Will You Measure Your Life?. I have attended a few of his presentations and in each he gives not only knowledge on how to succeed through success stories, but also knowledge on how to succeed through his own failure stories. He is willing to show vulnerability. No thought leader is perfect.
A force that shifts the status quo
Another attribute of a thought leader is that he or she provides a force that shifts the status quo. According to my mentor, this is like the power of the ocean.
Every wave is different. The sand is different every time the tide moves. The force of water changes rocks over time. What it leaves behind will never be the same. It leaves behind treasures. The ocean is cleansing. It is a powerful healer: mentally, spiritually, physically. Salt water heals wounds very quickly.
Thought leaders enable others to find success. You need other people to be a thought leader; otherwise you do not lead.
After talking about the attributes of a thought leader, I realized that ‘thought leader’ isn’t just another attribute on the list of who I want to be; it encompasses everything on that list – it is who I want to be.