Some Unorthodox Advice From a Snow Leopard
…..on Sharing More of My Own Original Thoughts In The New Year
It’s a scientific fact that our brain’s are repulsed by negative feedback, even when what we’re hearing is meant to be constructive. Research has shown that we subconsciously throw up our guard walls (think fight or flight) when threatened by something that is outside of our common narrative.
We are naturally wired to throw shade on feedback that runs counter to our prevailing thinking, often seeing it as a threat to who we are and how we are viewed in the world. As a result, we often throw up roadblocks to some of the most important feedback we may not want to here, but need to hear.
In December, I experienced this when seeking out a few “Great Books, Great Minds'' subscribers for feedback about my digital publication, which turns 3 this month. To my surprise, there was one common piece of feedback I received.
“….we wanna hear more from you about your own personal reading experiences and book recommendations versus what others have to share.
In other words, be more open and vulnerable in sharing my own bookishly, original thoughts with others
As luck would have it, this was the common theme of a book I had just started reading entitled Snow Leopard: How Legendary Writers Create a Category of One by an eclectic group of content futurists and co-writers known as the Category Pirates (Christopher Lochhead, Eddie Yoon, and Nicolas Cole).
As a writer competing with what seems like an infinite number of other creators for people’s attention, I really appreciated the unorthodox wisdom shared in this book. As noted in the book’s introduction:
“Legendary writers, the ones who stand the test of time, create a category of one. They’re snow leopards. Regular leopards, the ones 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. In fact, it’s rare to see even two snow leopards together. Ever. They stand alone.”
My first thought after reading this brief stanza was that my success, and even very survival as a writer, may be largely predicated on my willingness to move into the “Snow Leopard,'' rare air space that these authors advocate for in the book.
In pondering this point, the writer in my mind who best symbolizes a “Snow Leopard'' is Maria Popova, the Bulgarian-born, U.S. based writer, blogger, book critic and creator of The Marginalian (formerly Brain Pickings). Arguably the single biggest influence in my decision to launch “Great Books, Great Minds,” Maria in developing a “Category of One” has amassed a reported net worth of 5- $7 million. She has also written for The New York Times, Wired UK, and The Atlantic, among others, and is an MIT Fellow. Her writing is held in such high esteem that it is included in the Library of Congress archive of culturally valuable materials.
Maria’s secret sauce I believe is best captured in this Snow leopard excerpt which reads….
….“The big secret to becoming a legendary writer, creator, entrepreneur, or builder in the world is that your goal is not to play the “better” game and strive to be a newer, faster, smarter version of what everyone else is (a leopard). Your goal is to be a DIFFERENT type of writer altogether. Your goal is to become a snow leopard. And to dominate your category of one.”
The more and more I’ve reflected on this, it has become abundantly clear to me that this roadmap to success holds true not just for content creators but for whatever your endeavor might be. In this vein, here are a few others who quietly serve as an inspiration to me on my journey
Malvina Messler — Rapidly Emerging as the World’s Pre-Eminent Quantum Mindset Coach
Lisa Carmen Wang — Self proclaimed “Bad Bitch” serial entrepreneur, investor, and executive coach to startup CEO’s
Anthony Bourdain — Celebrity chef, author, travel documentarian, and culinary critic.
Techn9ne — Largest independent rap artist in the world
The thing that’s common about each of these folk is their irreverent, uncommon approach to how they deliver value for their audience.
As the book Snow Leopard adds:
“The way the business world has been educated on how to become an overnight “thought leader” is to create content that doesn’t threaten, doesn’t challenge, and doesn’t require the audience to think—as loud and as often as possible. This strategy caters to lazy, button-smashing consumers. When these people scroll through their social media feeds, they are (usually) not looking to be challenged.”
Consistent with what my good friend Andy Inhelder shared with me recently at our favorite local Denver coffee house, let’s conclude with this final thought from the book
“……In order to be a “thought leader,” you must be willing to LEAD WITH YOUR THOUGHTS.” This means it is your responsibility to say things people have not said yet. It is your responsibility to take risks, challenge conventional wisdom, and (dare we say) allow yourself to be creative— Ask yourself: Do you want acceptance? Or do you want to make a difference?”
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