Whitney Johnson wrote a blog post called How to Identify Your Disruptive Skills. She wasn’t instructing people on how to be rude or annoying. She wrote about how you can uncover their most unique strengths. As she said, “These may be capacities that are so innate you may not even consciously recognize them, or skills you have honed over years of practice. These are the skills that can help you carve out a disruptive niche — consequently upping your value in the marketplace.”
Being disruptive in this context means tapping what is already within you – and undergoing a metamorphosis. Your transformation may seem profound and surprising to others, yet it is based upon your truest self – your disruptive strengths.
The idea of being disruptive is appealing in a broader context of careers and performance. It allows you go move from floating through life to taking the helm. Being disruptive requires that you no longer let circumstances change you. You decide what you will do and how you will do it. How can being disruptive work for you?
Strategy. Charting a course for the organization requires courage, a depth of knowledge and judgment. When thinking strategically, you fast-forward to the future and imagine a new reality. Being disruptive when it comes to strategic thinking means that you widen your view and keep an open mind. Doing this allows you to identify unlikely and previously unrecognized options. So many “lucky breaks” are really the result of thinking more broadly and openly. In 1902, nobody thought that 3M would morph from being a mining company to a global technology innovations company. Someone(s) took a larger view of the possibilities, and if they hadn’t, it’s unlikely that the company would even be in business today.
Innovation. Rather than incremental change, think of innovation as jumping the tracks, shifting into a whole new way of working – a new tool or best practice that exponentially elevates the quality of work. Tweaking can be fine, but it can also be a symptom of the slow march to doom. As John Cage said, “I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I am frightened of old ones.”
How can you make sure that you are you bringing energy to the right stuff – your disruptive potential? Your most disruptive strength may not be obvious, so you’ll need to do some work to uncover it. Johnson gives some excellent advice in her blog, including increasing your self-awareness. One good way to do this is to courageously, regularly, emphatically seek feedback. Not, “Have any feedback?” but, “What is the one thing I should stop or start doing?”And then courageously, regularly, emphatically change.
Think you don’t have time? You do. Being disruptive requires that you study how you’re spending your time and re-allocate aggressively. As Carl Sandburg said, “Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.”
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