Bob Newhart was right; the best advice for thought leaders ever!
There’s a great Bob Newhart skit (https://youtu.be/Ow0lr63y4Mw) that is really poignant and relevant to authors, speakers and thought leaders. The gist of the skit is that he is (what else?) a psychiatrist and a patient comes to see him who suffers from a fear of being buried alive in a box.
The patient tells him about her fear. He barks at her to “stop it”. She looks shocked. There must be more to it than that? He barks at her again, “just stop it”. She starts to tell him the reasons, the why, the root causes, etc. He brushes those away and once again reverts to “just stop it!” Now the skit is obviously a spoof and any of us who have been in therapy clearly know the process takes years and years and you are never cured of anything (or is that just the business model of therapists? Hmmmm…) and they don’t just tell you to “stop it”.
I however am in a different business. As an advisor and consultant to thought leaders, speakers and authors around the globe I can tell my clients to “just stop it” when what they are doing isn’t productive, isn’t aligned with their business objectives, has no clear ROI or is just plain old silly. And I do. And sometimes they listen. We all know that there are things that we do (like writing yet another book, being on the board of an organization that takes a lot of your time, being a columnist, speaking at certain events, etc., etc.) that on further reflection don’t serve us well. They are time wasters and distractions. We know it yet we continue to do these things out of habit, out of guilt or out of an erroneous belief that there is or will be benefit from these activities.
Your most valuable resource as a thought leader is your time. Investing it haphazardly or in an undisciplined manner is simply foolish. Stop it! You should have an expectation as to what the benefit of every activity you do is. It doesn’t need to be exclusively financially based but you need to have a sense upfront of why you’re agreeing to do something, how long you’ll do it for, what success will look like and what you have given up in order to do that. For example, I’ve had several clients that were contributors to very well established business publications. Once we dove into the benefits to them (brand awareness, cachet, lead generation, exposure, book sales, speaking sales, etc.) against the time spent writing these time consuming pieces we were able to objectively determine whether it was a good use of their time. If you don’t analyze where you’re spending your time and how it is beneficial to you chances are you are doing things that you should “just stop” doing. It may sound tough but it’s easier then therapy.