How to Disrupt Your Way to Exponential Growth
Leave a comment on this post to become eligible to win one of fifteen copies of, “Disrupt Yourself,” by Whitney Johnson.
You inevitably arrive at a place where disruption is the only path forward. You die a little that day or you disrupt your way to fulfillment.
Life always has trajectory.
Disruption is the path forward:
We all know people who chose smooth sailing and slipped into predictable boredom at the same time. Sail into the storm if you want to grow.
The path to exponential growth always includes – disruption – a letting go and a taking hold.
*7 ways to disrupt your way to exponential growth:
- Take the right risks.
- Play to your distinctive strengths.
- Embrace constraints. “Think of constraint as a tool of creation.” Whitney Johnson
- Constraints lead to faster feedback.
- Constraints help us solve for one variable at a time.
- Constraints help us stay focused.
- Constraints give us something to push against.
- Battle entitlement.
- Step back to grow.
- Give failure it’s due.
- Be discovery driven.
*From, “Disrupt Yourself.”
Step back to grow (#5):
You’re probably better at pushing through than stepping back. From my point of view, stepping back feels like giving up. But, you end up ineffective and frustrated when you refuse to step back.
Step back now or persist in behaviors and strategies that outlive their usefulness.
Whitney Johnson, says, “Disruption by definition involves moving sideways, back, or down, in order to move forward.”
4 motivations to step back to grow:
- Lack of fulfillment.
- Persistent frustration.
- Nagging anxiety concerning missed opportunities.
- Prolonged periods of chasing your tail.
5 ways to step back to grow:
- Change roles within your organization.
- Change organizations.
- Set aside ego. Disruption includes feelings of incompetence. We’ll need to, “…know less than those around us.”
- Redefine success.
- Show up in new ways.
(Adapted from, “Disrupt yourself.”)
Embrace constraints (2:46):
Where does the courage come from (1:39):
Fear as motivation (2:28):
Purchase, Disrupt Yourself.
Connect with Whitney on twitter: @johnsonwhitney
Add me. I could use some constructive disruption, both professionally and personally.
“Constructive disruption”…. it has a ring to it!
I recently stepped down from a director position within the agency for which I am employed for all four reasons shared in the article. I worked 16 to 20 hour days and felt like I was chasing my tail all the time to try to move the agency forward with teamwork, best practice, policy revisions, and professionalism. The past two months have provided me with a new perspective on how I am defining success not only in our government organization, but also within my personal life. My professional peers now constantly state how much I am “glowing.” I have learned that I must change me in order to be a better servant leader and help progress the work that we do within our agency.
That is awesome. Good on ya!
Sounds Similiar to being a “Change Agent”
I’m scared, but I have to move.
I’m terrified, but I have to provide better for the family.
I’m intimidated, but this risk is worth taking.
I’m not ready, but I’m ready enough to fail towards success.
Stepping back, this is too important. I’m scared to death, but they need me to grow.
They need me to go.
Dan and Whitney: Thank you for the encouragement.
Very inspiring! I am ready to ‘disrupt myself.’
Very interesting, “Disrupt Yourself”, sounds like a pathway to high adventure!
#5-Step back to grow-really resonated with me. It never hurts to get out of the weeds and try to see the big picture. Great reminder
I like identifying the 4 motivations to step back and grow and the 5 steps. Right now, change is happening in my organization with employees being moved around, focusing on strengths and lessening weakness, which has let some folks have their ego get in their way. This has become very noticeable and also very unflattering for those folks. Not everything can go to plan, but learning from the failure is nearly as good as achieving success.
This has been my life these past 12 years
This is absolutely correct. Taking a different lateral position was actually a huge step forward for me.
If you have too many disruptions – because of many change programmes leading to uncertainty – disruptions may not lead to the desired results? Appreciate feedback
Thanks Andtea. Good point. Too much disruption equals too much uncertainty. I think the other thing to add is disruption just for the sake of disruption doesn’t make sense.
I am finding, regularly, this truth presenting itself to me: The path to exponential growth always includes – disruptions – a letting go and a taking hold.
I am trying to embrace it and hold on through what feels like an exponential time of growth in my life. It’s as if I can ‘see’ the next level while ‘feeling’ the process come alive throughout my thoughts and actions. I am growing, changing. It’s an interesting time to be me – scary, but great!
Thanks Ann Marie. Your comment has the feel of hope and anxiety at the same time. Sounds like you have a firm grasp on reality. Best for the journey.
Determining the “right” risks is challenging and always offers growth opportunities.
Right! Show up in new ways.
Interesting how similar these sound to typical creativity techniques.
This is a really probing post, Dan, and poses a lot of things for me to ponder. I would be interested to have your thoughts on item #4 Battle entitlement, though. I’m not sure I understand clearly what that means.
Thanks Steven. Whitney has taken organizational disruption ideas and applied them to individuals. Here are some of her ideas on the topic: https://hbr.org/2012/01/battling-entitlement-the-innov/
I found the books ideas to be very useful.
Wow. Quite a powerful essay. Got it now. Thanks.
This reminds me of a quote I heard last week, “Sometimes in order to get the right picture, you must start with the negative…” Nearly every growth opportunity starts with some form of disruption. Good stuff!
The audio clips are great on this post. Some thoughts:
“Victim of persistence”…makes me think of the saying “Work smarter, not harder”
“Dreaming gives you courage”…Using S.M.A.R.T. goals (created by George Doran, et. al.) helps to lessen fear of change.
S. – Specific
M. – Measurable
A. – Achievable
R. – Realistic
T. – Time based
“Analyzing fear”…fear is a negative emotion that can be turned into positive energy that fuels action and disruption, helping you reach the dreams and goals you want to reach.
I am finally at a point where I am comfortable embracing change in all aspects of my life. I welcome it because I’ve learned to look at it as a way to grow.
Thank you so much for this post, Dan.
Thanks Dr. Pinzon. I’m thankful for your insights. You make me feel the power of embracing change. Don’t change — don’t grow.
I listened to the webinar that Becky Robinson hosted with Whitney and it was very inspiring. Good stuff there, in your post and probably even more in the full book. to get this “overview” Becky’s hosting another one tomorrow “Disrupt Yourself™:Play to Your Distinctive Strengths” – not to be missed. 🙂
I´m in. Disrupting myself is what I have called a “mantra” for me, being passionate to jump into the unknown.
There is growth in the margins. It’s not until we are uncomfortable that we really figure out what we’re made of and can face the challenge of improving.
Timely post from my perspective seeing as I’m considering stepping back to move forward!
Best wishes Shannon.
Fascinating post, and for me, very timely. I am 5 days in to a new role at an institution I have worked at for 5 years. The role is not just new to me, but newly created during a disruption of practice as usual here. I’m particularly drawn to number :3 – Embrace Constraints. This idea of using constraints as creative forces is very insightful, something I’ve never considered, and something I will definitely be working with now.
Thanks Dan, I’ve long been a reader – “Sail into the storm if you want to grow” is exactly the advice I’m taking from you right now.
I’m in a current step back to grow mode. I recently learned that others see me in a light that I did not consider to be valid, but reflection is causing me to take time to review by taking a step back and considering the options vs just plowing through the work that I’ve always prided myself in completing. This fresh perspective is both challenging and rewarding and I’m excited to see how these changes will work out in the end.
I agree and am in the middle of much disruption and the movement forward is starting 😎.
Dan when my small, private firm was acquired by a company ten times as big it was a moment of Disruption for myself and my peers. The new, bigger firm offered me a key job but it meant leaving the Cleveland area and moving to Chicago. I had just gotten married about the same time. So we discussed this opportunity with family and friends.
My younger sister said a phrase I have repeated many times. It is a quote from Heller Keller who became a famous educator and writer after overcoming being born deaf and blind. The quote is “Life is either an Adventure or Nothing!”
Brad James http://www.bradszootales.com
Interesting topic. I would contend that we often put a lot of energy in our focus that we tend to forget about stepping back and re-grouping. I think a lot of that mindset comes from us not willing or wanting to give-up perse and relinquish any momentum that might just allow us to break through. Often we may feel a sense of failure if we allow ourselves to stop and take a closer look.
I know for me, forward momentum however slight is forward momentum. It is kinda like driving in wintery conditions where if we stop, we are doomed to be stuck. Once we get stuck, we are afraid of people just driving by us without a care in the world simply based on the fact that they have no desire to break their stride to help you out.
Another consideration or fear in stepping back is the fear of derailment. What if we are barking up the wrong tree? What if we start to find reasons to stop? All those and other unknowns are frightful. So, we keep moving in hopes of breaking through. All of the steps that you provide as motivation for stepping back are the primary reasons many don’t stop,
Consider the times that you have taken a road trip somewhere. We hate to stop because if we do, we tend to loose that focus on getting to where we are trying to go. There are of course necessity stops that need to be made but we even get a little angry that we need to even make those. Most of us are just concerned about the time to get there.
The trip mentality applies to our professional journey in the same manner. We set our sights, prepare for the journey and hit the road. We don’t want it to take a lot of time and we hate any delays. When the unexpected happens or we get caught in a jam, frustration overcomes us. Soon, the achievement of reaching our destination or goal consumes us. I know for me, the mindset is that I can put off stopping. There is bound to be another rest area down the road!
Risk evaluation is always the hardest part of stepping back…and taking a risk will always feel for some moments, months or even years like ‘apparent failure’…before success arrives…that builds faith and resilience…and it becomes very clear who you can trust and who you cannot.
This is just what I needed today! Thanks
Great post. If things aren’t working, it’s better to disrupt and try something different.
Thank you for highlighting stepping back as the path to growth and the 4 motivations to step back. I need to read that book.
Intentional disruption….it’s a good thing. Sometimes we get stuck in a rut thinking about something or doing something a certain way and we need to stop and reorient ourselves and do things a different way.
Disruption seems like a form of strategic chaos where the organization embraces both success and failing forward as necessary for growth but refuses to become comfortable with the way things are.
Disruption so often has a negative connotation, but can be such a benefit in so many realms.
Thank you, Dan. This is a very thought-provoking post.
For me it would be difficult to embrace constraints, for either myself or for employees. It would be tough to do so and keep a positive attitude. Disruption seems like norming-storming, without the norming.
However, I have found that showing up in new ways helps self-growth and allows others to see that if I can show something new, they can, also.
I’ve definitely seen the exponential growth from intentional disruption (adding the “intentional” prefix is a great term from another comment). I’m going to add this book to my “must read” list.
Wow…just had a conversation about this today at work. Never thought about it from the perspective of taking a step back as being “disruptive” but it really does make sense. Loved the quote, “Step back now or persist in behaviors and strategies that outlive their usefulness.” POWERFUL!!!
I will have a different outlook on disruptions in my life. I will make it a point to embrace those disruptions and find the good.
If only I’d have read this 3 months ago… Hope I can win your book…
Disruptions have always lead to growth in my life. Sometimes I have stepped back on my own, sometimes I have been forced to step back. They have all worked in my favor even when my preference would have been to forge ahead.
Wow, have I felt ineffective and frustrated recently. Guess it’s time to step back, set aside my ego and let go in order to move forward! Thanks for the wise words today!
Be brave and trust your instinct. That’s what this is saying to me today 🙂
Thanks for this useful insight but. Its easy said rather than done specially battle entitlement , i neeed your help with this point since it will cause failure , i tried it several times but i could not succeed , espicially in the berucratic managment style .
Disruption with a purpose. I’m in.
Die vs Disruption. I recently had to do this in my career path. As uncomfortable as it has been, I have had to change jobs twice in 12 months in order to step back, regroup, and continue forward in a new direction. But now I am a new and improved path and I am so excited about the possibilities ahead of me!
This was exactly what I needed today. I’m feeling stagnant in my position and am part of a professional learning community where some members refuse to budge on their beliefs. They need exponential growth!
Very good. Food for thoughts. Would like to know about battle entitlement
I am making changes and these concepts are so applicable to the situation. If we are comfortable, we are not growing, and if we are not growing we won’t ever be what we could be.
This is perfectly timed for me. I need to step back one way or another. Now I have a framework to help me think about the options more clearly.
Picking the eight and timely risks is always the challenge. It does become a forest -trees issue of stepping back, even speaking with a mentor
So how do you step back when you are absolutely sure you are where you are supposed to be? You recognize you are the servant but the weight can be overwhelming at times. My pastor called us “marketplace ministers.”
Dan, I love all of Whitney Johnson’s work and I appreciate your condensing some of what’s in her new book.
When it comes to disruption, it reminds me of what we’ve been told over and over again and it’s something I disagree with: “People hate change, people resist change.” It’s like being put in a trance from relentless hypnotic suggestions.
I’m a former psychotherapist and now a coach. Here’s what my experience has shown me:
People love change–if it’s the change they want and believe they can make happen.
Most people would love to have change in their life, even significant change.
But they don’t believe it’s possible, or “realistic” or _____.
The challenge for leaders (or self) is to connect with those who want the change offered, the disruption offered. Then show them how it can be done, and even be exhilerating.
So I don’t think we hate change or disruption. We hate being told we have to do something or feeling we’re “damned if we do and damned if we don’t. We hate or at least dislke feeling powerless.
To welcome disruption, we have to recognize and cultivate our power and feel empowered. then disruption is an adventure.
At my strata meeting tonight, there will be a ‘disruption’ in the form of an ‘amendment to the motion’. Constructive amendments should be valued and given due consideration. Anything else is arrogance.
disruption for the sake of disruption, is often just trouble-making…
Good post. Reminds me of Bob Proctor’s quote, “Use your comfort zone to relax and restore – not to live in.” I try to remind myself of this, I think what helped the most was skydiving. You’re fearless for a good while after that. 🙂 I’m also not the calf path type…my curiousity exhausts me. (read the poem if you haven’t)
Looking forward to spending my lunch break listening to your webinar tomorrow, Whitney! 🙂 Thank you
Can’t wait to read more about disruption Dan! I disrupted my own career and stepped back to start again when I quit my first career to go back to school full time to do what I love. A step back is often the only path to moving forward. Thanks!
These are some powerful, “disruptive” thou ts on taking control of your career path Dan! Understanding our tendencies and finding that sweet spot in the S curve will help us better assess how we can change up our lives. Great
Constructive Disruption. Sounds about right. Pass it over! 🙂
I would love to learn more about the art of disruption!
Disrupt with a purpose. Sounds good!
Disruption and Chaos are all around us and always will be. Why not embrace it and grow from within it?!?!
Great Post… Constructive Disruption .. Sounds Great
Wow, that sounds like a great book! With four little kids, my home life is one of continual disruptions, and my work life as a pastor is much the same. Would love to make them even more positive and productive.
Disruption is the decision point for whether you will wither or blossom. Don’t ask, “Why me?”, ask, “What now?”
Wow, I NEED this book! Thank you for offering a few free copies! If I don’t win a free copy I will be ordering one.
Wow, I NEED this book! Thank you for offering a few free copies! If I don’t win a copy I will buy one for sure.
I like the Step back to grow point. Right now I have changed roles because of an organizational change. I am not a big fan of my new role but I know it will make me a better leader by forcing me to be a leader without the title and to see the struggles my team goes through that I would not have seen before. I needed this article today.
Another great post with wisdom people can pick up and use. Keep up the great work!
Disruption – so much recently – ready to break out …but love idea to step back and reflect!
Really enjoy reading your posts!
Feeling encouraged as I’ve jumped into some opportunites that are creating some positive disruptions as well as stirring up the status quo in my daily functions. Experiencing growth but now need to reestablish balance to avoid burnout or drowning.
I recently found myself complacent in the role I was in at work. I recognized it and acted on it and now I am in a role that I absolutely love. In a 15 year career, this is the first time I have felt that I finally fit in the role I am in. Disruption to that complacency made that happen.
Great blog. It is counterintuitive for me from a personality standpoint, but the thought brings life and energy. Excellent job Dan, and thanks for the bonus material 🙂
I am not afraid to “step back and grow”; if I’m not doing that then I really do feel stagnant in my job. I’m actually currently considering some of the 5 steps, just don’t know which one to pursue 1st. Would really like to help others disrupt their “smooth sailing” to really help my company exponentially grow!
Really enjoying these blogs. Like the quote, “Sail into the storm if you want to grow.”
I love seeing how many comments your contests bring out. It helps to give me hope that I probably get more people than I think reading and appreciating my own posts, they just need a small excuse to be brave in adding a comment.
These are very wise words: “Sail into the storm if you want to grow”. It is not always an easy road to go down but the end result is worth every bump and bruise!
This sounds like a fantastic book and very timely for my current situation. Hopefully the draw isn’t done yet! ;o)
Intentional disruption ties in with your post about making decisions…it’s not a decision if there is no dissent…very true. And embracing the constraint…Eli Goldratt would be proud! We use his Theory of Contraints at work and it is all about managing to the anomoly and then moving to the next constraint. It takes away micro-management and I think it could work in your personal life as well. Instead of freaking out about everyting, figure out what is the anomoly: time management? Work statement? Car problems? Child care issues? Whatever the case may be…find the biggest constraint or bottleneck and work on that issue only. Great post!!
I’d love to learn more about stepping back to grow… I struggle with doing this as a developing leader.
It takes a little (or a lot) of discomfort for any type of meaningful growth! As Margaret Wheatley said, “Be willing to be disturbed.” Best advice ever.
Sounds like a good read. Would love a copy
If change feels disruptive and uncomfortable, it’s probably a good thing.
Sounds like a great read! Hoping to be one of the winners!
Interesting, I added this tool to my toolbox many years ago and continue to use this methodology today.
UP is right in the middle of disrUPtive – moving forward, moving up!
Thats cool Delic!
Sometimes you have to slow down to speed up! As a leader it’s Ok to step back and take calculated risks to help yourself grow. These risks are uncomfortable in the short term but will help you in the long term.
Two insights: 1) Having just left two organizations in 12 months, and reading this makes me wonder if I’ve been pushing too hard. Perhaps my own label of what I want to do or should do isn’t serving me well. It sure hasn’t been smooth sailing. 2) Love the list of 4 reasons to embrace constraints. It fits very well with the whole practice of the Toyota Kata, tackling one obstacle at a time and nudging one’s way through the unknown towards a target.
I’m a big believer in disruption. Revolution is hardly possible without it, and a little revolution now and then is a good thing.
So often the impetus to disrupt ourselves is an external force or event that seems to be irresistible. We are shoved off the train and have to land correctly or else.
Thank you so much for this, and for the opportunity to win a book, could one of those books make its way here to Ireland? I hope so. 🙂
Market leading organizations stay close to their markets and identify shifts early and adapt. Some of these shifts result in disruption.
Market leading teams make disruption a part of their culture.
Look at some of the most innovative and profitable companies…they embrace disruption.
What is amazing is how satisfied you can become with discontent. When I hit a speed bump in life, it really jolted me into reality. It has been a long path to discovery, and that speed bump was the only thing that saved me from self destruction. If we do not step back and look at where we are headed, we will end up sadly disappointed in our life.
Step back now or persist in behaviors and strategies that outlive their usefulness. This is such BASIC simple advice. We’ve been taught to “keep going” but taking a pause for the cause is can be a game changer. Thanks for sharing this!
Thanks for letting me know about this book, Dan! Thanks to mentioning via Periscope. Great framework for career reflection and planning.
This is such great timing. I had a major disruption to my career, (not of my choosing). It has taken me stepping back from my initial survival instinct; reviewing what I have felt constrained by and why they were constraints & frustrations for me, to realize it was time for me to take a leap of faith and trust in myself and my own ability. I start new career path in next few months! Thanks for sharing.
Loved your yellow hat on Periscope this morning.
Fantastic article. Enforced career change a few years ago put me in survival mode. My eventual decision to see this as a catalyst rather than a disaster has meant I have been able to step back and objectively view why I felt constraints and frustrations and use that knowledge to work out what I do need. Leap of faith and realization I had to be the change so believe in myself means I start challenging & exciting new role soon.
I think this is so true for me…”You’re probably better at pushing through than stepping back. From my point of view, stepping back feels like giving up. But, you end up ineffective and frustrated when you refuse to step back.” Stepping back involves introspection, reflection, contemplation, slowing down; and all of these things are counter-cultural in our society. Pushing through seems much more noble….NOT! Thanks so much for this post Dan…much to think about and talk about here.
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Disruption is a lot like stepping out of your comfort zone. Not many people like it but it is almost always a time to grow and excell. I want to grow.
Great article as always, Dan – I concur completely!
Expressive writing is the most effective form of journaling; you will surely notice how improved your mental health can go. Hope this blog Keys to Continuously Encourage Self-Growth will help.