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  • Writer's pictureDr. Patrick E. Crawford

Snow Leopard

Leadership Thoughts | Issue #100

You can consider this issue (#100) a milestone! Writing an article a week for one hundred weeks has sometimes challenged my commitment. Issue #100 is a time to reflect on what I've learned and if it is worth continuing. I don't know how many people subscribe to Leadership Thoughts or if anyone finds value in reading the articles. Friends, tell me it doesn't matter how many people read your writing if it is of value to at least one person. I hope that occasionally the reader finds a nugget worth consideration.

Now let me share a secret about the heading, Leadership Thoughts. It is a play on words. I never considered myself a thought leader; that distinction is reserved for legendary authors, high-paid speakers, and people like Elon Musk. On the contrary, all leaders have thoughts worth considering; therefore, "Leadership Thoughts" allows me to share my thoughts and invites readers to formulate their ideas on the article's content.

Through writing these one hundred articles, I have gained two important benefits. For one, it has provided a platform for me to think and share my ideas on leadership and education. And second, putting these articles out into the world has made me improve as a writer-or, so I hope!

One day when we were talking about writing, Tom Butler recommended a book by "Category Pirates" titled, Snow Leopard: How Legendary Writers Create A Category of One.

The book was a timely and insightful read for me. I don't have any illusions about becoming a legendary writer, but I did learn several things worth considering from reading the book.

Let me share a few snippets.

  • Ask yourself: Do you want acceptance? Or do you want to make a difference?

  • The size of the question dictates the size of the audience.

  • "If you want to be a thought leader, you must be willing to lead with your thoughts."

  • Thought leaders are not outrageous or controversial, nor are they seeking attention. They are driven to take people somewhere new because they are already living in the future.

  • There are five levels to becoming a "thought leader" or legendary writer.

1) Consumption

2) Curation

3) Obvious Connection

4) Non-Obvious Connection

5) Category Creation

I am a firm believer in the idea that leadership and creativity are intertwined, and this is the sentiment echoed in Snow Leopard's five-level progression of thought leadership. As the authors point out, many of those who aspire to be thought leaders find it difficult to progress past levels two and three. Having read through the previous ninety-nine articles, I'd have to agree. Most of my writing has been in levels two and three, with only occasional glimpses of level four. The good news is what readers are looking for in a blog fall in levels two and three.

Here is a quick overview of the five levels before I conclude:

Level 1: Consumption

In this stage, we spend most of our time-consuming content. We have two types of consumers - passive and active. Passive content consumers think they can find the answers to their questions by consuming all the available content, but they only pick whatever confirms their existing thoughts. On the other hand, active consumers are more selective in what and how they consume and are careful to avoid getting sidetracked down the internet rabbit hole.

Level 2: Curation

Level 2 is where we take the ideas and perspectives of others we admire and share them. The simplest form of curation is sharing, such as retweeting. The next step is to share someone else's idea and add our view. If we do it correctly, other people who want to hear our opinion will consider us to have insight because they trust our judgment and enjoy the content. Sharing someone else's ideas and adding our own unique opinion is called research.

Level 3: Obvious Connection

The same thread is used to construct obvious and non-obvious connections, creating two distinct tapestries. An obvious connection is when you or someone else takes content and explains the relationship. This I call the "want to" section. I will guide you if you "want to" learn to sail, get wealthy, or become a better leader.

Level 4: Non-Obvious Connection

The non-obvious connectors are the people who change the world with their thinking. It is also the most difficult level to achieve because most people do not want to change their thinking. The good news is there are some non-obvious thinkers among us today. The Category Pirates identified Maholm Gladwell's book,

Talking to Strangers, and Adam Grant's, Think Again, as examples of non-obvious connections.

Level 5: Creation

The pinnacle of creative achievement lies in Category Creation, the fifth and highest level. Success here is not about you; it's about the category you create. Moving through the levels of creativity takes hard work, and we all move between the first four levels at various points in our lives. Unless becoming a snow leopard is your goal, we can still benefit from honing our skills to recognize the obvious and the not-so-obvious.

So, what is a snow leopard? In the authors' words:

"Regular leopards with golden fur and black spots spend their entire lives competing against each other. They look the same; they act the same. They move in groups. They seek acceptance. The snow leopard does none of these things. It's rare to see even two snow leopards together. Ever. They stand alone".

I am grateful for your patience with my sometimes-meandering musings. I cannot gauge the success of my labor by the number of readers, but it would still bring me great joy to see the count rise. Please share Leadership Thoughts with your peers if you are pleased with them.

Check your comprehension of becoming an opinion leader or writer by determining which level Issue #100 would fit into.


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