“Everybody’s like everybody else, and everybody’s different from everybody else.”
— Harvey Pekar
This is a tough one. Not going to lie to you, here or anywhere else.
Your audience desperately wants to believe that they are, as individuals, unique and special. They do this to their advantage and to their detriment.
They think that they have something unique and valuable to contribute to the world. They’re right about that.
They also think they are somehow uniquely impeded from making that contribution. They’re probably wrong about that, but they are firmly convinced of it.
Your job, as a Thought Leader, is to encourage and fulfill their desire to feel special — by creating a sense of positive expectancy in them about your subject, and to knock down the self-defeating objections they have about themselves, your subject, and the exterior world.
It’s not a small or easy job.
Additionally, your audience also believes that they are the same as everyone else is some ways. They do their best to walk, talk, and dress like those around them.
I’ll never forget the college experience of watching middle-aged people go to college, and over the course of their first year, transforming into a version of themselves that looked and behaved (in some ways) like their much-younger fellow students.
Why did they do that?
They wanted to feel like they were part of the crowd. They wanted to feel included.
And so do your followers.
So it’s your job to create and encourage their sense of belonging. Of being a part of the “cool” crowd. Make them feel like they fit in, like they’re welcome, that they’ve found “their people.”
Notice how we’re talking about all this “thought leader” stuff and we haven’t mentioned knowing all sorts of specialized information or teaching? This is the stuff you have to do before you have to do all of that. If you just right to the learning and teaching, you’re missing out on a big part of the interactions with your followers.