Many of the best thought leadership practitioners have a healthy dose curiosity. They want to understand the world and know what other people are thinking. So, how do we harness this curiosity and make it work for us? I suggest allocating time towards two important techniques:
First, the deep dive. What are people in your field—or adjacent to it—talking about? That might mean reading an article they’ve published, or following them on social media, or even setting aside time for an informal conversation with them, one-on-one. The deep dive is a great way to stay current as well as help you sharpen your ideas.
The second technique is the environmental scan. What are people talking about outside of your field? If you only listen to people in your field, you miss opportunities for those “aha-moments” where a new idea sparks an insight for you. Environmental scans intentionally put you outside your own comfort zone. Here’s one example. Over my career, I have allocated time to go and attend professional events and conferences that are not in my field and hear what they’re talking about when they’re talking among themselves.
One word of caution. Keep your curiosity in balance. If you’re practicing thought leadership without any curiosity, it’s very likely you run the risk of sounding like a know-it-all. And if you go the other direction and let your curiosity run rampant, well, you fall down an intellectual rabbit hole.
Make deep dives and environment scans part of your thought leadership practice, and you’ll be sharper for it.