I read an HBR Article this morning that got me to thinking about disruption in our professional lives. It’s actually a topic I come back to a lot in my life and career, thinking about how I want to grow/reinvent/shift?
It reminds me of the quote on the cover of my journal … “Not all who wander are lost” … feels perfect for my sense of exploration and a desire to really seek out growth and new perspectives.
In industry, we think of disruptive companies or technologies as game changers, something elusive and highly sought after. If you are the disruptor company you are leading the pack, redefining the game. If your company and business model is disrupted, you are reacting to change, trying to figure out the new rules and quickly adapt.
But that same idea of disruption can and should apply at a person-level, too. Sometimes we get too set in our ways and it can be good to deliberately shake things up.
Last night while we played Star Wars Monopoly and waited for midnight, I asked my youngest son about what sport or hobby he wanted to pursue in 2016. He had come to the natural end of one stage of his study in Tae Kwon Do – so I asked whether he wanted to go deeper in that, or mix things up and go in another direction. He decided he wants to swim more. He’s a great swimmer, but needs to learn some of the strokes and would like to be on a swim team. This is a little disruption for his life – but one one forced on us, one that he chose. And one that will open him up to new people, new skills, new adventures. He can keep doing Tae Kwon Do, but is opening up a new avenue that he wants to focus on.
But in a work context, I think we often think of disruption as something that is done TO us, the reactive side of change. Are we doing enough in our professional lives to be disruptive in how we show up- disruptive in finding new approaches, new skills and knowledge, cultivating deeper and different types of relationships, in shaping our experiences to create the reputation that we hope to have. And that doesn’t have to mean a dramatic change of career or industry. Disruption can be smaller but no less significant in the way we show up and the career that we build.
Perhaps, like companies, we should be scanning for the opportunity to disrupt ourselves every now and then. if you think about the way you show up every day, the way you lead, the way you problem solve, the way to engage with others … that’s your norm. That’s your brick and mortar. When we show up this way we are often on autopilot, and the pattern of how we approach our work – even if once great – may no longer meeting the challenges of today and tomorrow.
- Where is your most valuable asset – your time – suboptimized, and you need to make some radical changes in your approach to invest your time more wisely in 2016?
- Where do we have strengths that – if really honed – could truly differentiate us in our ability to make an impact? What action can you initiate to move toward that differentiation in 2016?
- Where do we see gaps in our skills or experience that – once closed – really take our leadership to the next level? What kind of step could help you close those gaps in 2016?
- Where do we see the ability to give back more, to help others in their development – knowing that coaching and teaching will also develop a different dimension of our leadership. Could you offer to coach or mentor someone in 2016?
- Where do we need to balance out our perspective – get out of the details and challenge ourselves to think strategically, or dig into the complexity and detail to expand your strategic point of view? What first step could you take in that direction in 2016?
- Where do you realize you have been flying solo and need to cultivate some thought partners to help navigate complex issues? Who might be excited to be part of this network with you in 2016 … everyone needs a few people they can bounce ideas and dilemmas off of?
If change were not just about bracing for impact but about deciding where a shift would be good and seeking it out, then perhaps we will think of it less like an affliction and more like a door. Sometimes we open that door ourselves, other times its opened for us.
Rather than make a resolution that might fade in a week or two, maybe think of a small disruption that could shift and enhance your perspective and career.