Wednesday, January 29, 2014

On being a thought leader: a game plan

I was drawn to this headline at Big Think: How To Live Forever. How could I not be?

It was a piece by Dr. Thorsten Pattburg, a German writer, linguist and cultural critic. The article was a sort of instruction manual for becoming a spiritual leader, one whose influence would last beyond his lifetime.

Thought leadership in the business world being my craft, I saw in Pattburg's piece guidance that would apply across disciplines. There is about his writing the possibility that he is being cynical: one might, we could infer, become a spiritual leader without being at all sincere.

Ignoring that possibility -- it may be just the journalist in me anyway -- here are a few of his suggestions:
Have a great idea. You need a plan, a system, a manifesto, a mission. Write it down. It can be a book, an unpublished manuscript, an essay, a drawing, a diary, a couple of poems, a draft for a constitution, or just a few lines of your thought. Something! Think about Chairman Mao's Little Red Book. Your idea will become the genius sitting on your shoulder and attending your actions; it's your guiding spirit, your talisman, and your protector. Having it will forever distract the critic's eye away from your over-the-top personality toward that genius.
Become historically aware. You must spiritually connect with historical events and famous people in history. You do so by comparing your idea with already existing ones, ideally from two thousand years ago, as if your thoughts were, say, the logical conclusion of the teachings of Confucius, Buddha, or Jesus Christ, etc. Your idea is universal and was previously known to other great men in history, so you are the obvious heir to the kingdom of thought.
Be a force of creation. To create is to know, they say. Great leaders are constantly creating new connections between themselves, their followers, and the movement to current domestic, economical, cultural, and political affairs. Everything is interconnected, that is the essence of all spirituality. In addition, just as companies like Google or Apple are putting out new software products and patents, so your spiritual enterprise, too, must constantly produce new consumer products, videos, articles, and new word-creations.
Manage your image. Most spiritual leaders adopt an iconic look and style and stick to that a life-time in order to remain universally recognizable. Now, how to get your image and your idea out to the people? The key is public relations. Many times people will write articles about you, some will publish your stuff, but in order to stay in control over your universal image you must produce in-house. Get a management team and agent(s); create your own newspaper, journal, show, magazine, and publishing house.
Sound familiar?

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