Thought leadership begins with loading
Think. Write. Lead. - Issue #67. Loading the brain's pattern recognition system with the right ideas is essential for thought leadership.
This is the sixth installment in a 7-part series about the neurobiology of thought leadership. Catch up here:
Intro: The Neurobiology of Thought Leadership
Thought leaders are masters at pattern recognition.
They can look at the world around them and see familiar patterns, connect seemingly unrelated ideas, and bring them together to create new frameworks and innovations.
Fortunately, your brain's pattern recognition system is primed to help you. Every time you link two ideas together, it rewards you with a small dose of dopamine.
Recognizing patterns feels good in your brain (you know, like when you solve that Wordle puzzle).
Not only that, but the dopamine in your system will help you find even more patterns. That's why creative ideas tend to stack up.
However, if you don't fill up your pattern recognition system with novel ideas regularly, your brain won't have the ammunition it needs to shoot leading thoughts into your writing.
That's the problem that people who specialize in a narrow area of expertise face--their ideas are so closely related that there are no remote associations or new patterns to recognize.
So load the pattern recognition system in your brain with new ideas, exposing yourself to new disciplines.
Here are some tips:
Talk to experts in areas you don't know much about.
Watch TED talks you wouldn't usually watch.
Follow thought leaders outside your industry.
Subscribe to weird podcasts.
Read about history, science, art, gaming, and AI.
If your work is usually intellectual, take classes that require manual work or vice versa.
Take on a creative hobby like drawing or painting.
Are you specializing in your area of interest or are you expanding your horizon?
Do you have a creative hobby or a side gig that's unrelated to your work?
Are you reading fiction and books outside your expertise?
This week, read 25 pages every day of a new topic you know little about but that makes you curious.
When an idea pops up during your reading, stop and let your brain make connections (but don't force it, let it do it).
Write down your ideas wherever you take notes.
At the end of the week, go back to your notes and connect them to one or more pieces of writing.
I guess you could say leading begins with loading.
You cannot give others what you don't have yourself.
And in the business of writing leading thoughts, you must become an avid consumer of weird ideas and emerging disciplines.
Become a fierce learner, and stay curious and open-minded. Get out of your bubble and feed your brain new and challenging information.
Grow fat with ideas. And then give birth to new thoughts.
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I'm writing in one daily. This morning my wife and I were co-mapping out some ideas for growing my newsletter here on Substack (Box Cutter). Coming out of the Ship 30 for 30 course, the recommendation from Cole (1/3 of Category Pirates) and Dickie Bush suggested a Category I could hone in on. I'm a huge fan of the Category Pirates and been working for a bit on clarifying a Category I can own and language. ;)
🔥 Great stuff Diego. Love this bit:
• Write down your ideas wherever you take notes.
• At the end of the week, go back to your notes and connect them to one or more pieces of writing.
I'm a big proponent of keeping a Learning Journal doing exactly these. And, yes 25 pgs is a great goal. Keep the creative engine fueled. Looking forward to diving into the free book I just received. You're speaking my language. :)