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Bewildered

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I am bewildered.

Which is much different than my usual stance of being grumpy and loud about something I see that I don’t like.

But as I sit with this, I am less and less annoyed and more and more, well, confused.

See, I watch people. A lot. And I especially watch those who put themselves in the “expert”,  “famous expert” and “leader” categories. I notice what they do. I notice what they don’t do.

I watch them online and I watch them in person at events like BlogWorld and SXSW.

And I am noticing something that is actually quite disturbing. So disturbing that I’m questioning some of my fundamental business choices.

Here’s what I see: There are a number of so-called leaders in the internet and social media space who seem to stick with what I can only call a “clique”. They primarily talk to this small group of peers, support this small group of peers and promote this small group of peers.

And I get it – they are free to make whatever choices they want, but from where I sit, it doesn’t look like leadership or expertise. It looks like high school and the cool kids table.

I thought true leaders reached out beyond their immediate peer group to help those who need their attention, their words, and their help.  I thought part of a leader’s job was to search for unnoticed diamonds in the rough and start to polish them. I thought true leaders never, ever forgot that they were once unnoticed and that someone reached out to help them become who they are.

Apparently I was wrong.

When I see “leaders” huddled together in a self-congratulatory group (I’ve even heard of an event where the leaders sit in a roped off area, inaccessible to the “common” attendees), it makes me question any aspiration I might have to someday be among them.

I know not all experts and leaders are like this and that gives me the hope I need to keep going.

And Lord knows I fall short myself in all of these areas. It’s far more fun to just hang with my friends online and IRL than to venture out and get to know people. But isn’t that what the social media and online world is all about?

Like I said. I’m bewildered. And perplexed.

What do you think? Am I way off base? Do I need to re-set my filter? Or do I just accept that this is the way things are and move on?

As always, I am dying to hear what you think.

**UPDATE: Based on some emails and DMs, I guess I need to make it clear that my personal feelings aren’t hurt because I’m being “left out”. On the contrary, I’m often included by some of the very leaders I’m thinking of.  This is more about observing people whom I thought were admirable who, sadly, aren’t. And watching how they treat others, not just how they treat me. **

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