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For a long time, I used to think that disruption occurs within organizations and doesn’t really apply to individuals. My aha moment came when I listened to “Disrupt yourself” podcast hosted by Whitney Johnson. While the title for sure gives away the concept, the podcast series has inspired me to contemplate my own disruption at an individual level.

We’ve all seen what happens when organizations don’t continue to innovate and disrupt themselves. You probably are very aware of the fate of Blockbuster and many such organizations that seize to exist due to their inability to disrupt themselves and change direction. If you think about it, disruption in organizations happens not all at once and not just at a high level. It stems from an individual who chooses to challenge the status quo and solves unmet needs of customers; perhaps unknown to the customers themselves.  

If disruption is vital for a business to thrive, why are we not intentional about our own disruption? Because disruption is uncomfortable, challenging, and risky. What I’ve realized is that either I am intentional about disrupting myself to be more in control of my growth trajectory or I allow circumstances to drive my life.  

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be rocket scientist to innovate, think creatively and to disrupt yourself. Being intentional about your own disruption can go a long way in your growth journey.

Here are 7 ways to disrupt yourself

Adopt a “Beginner’s Mindset”

When was the last time you tried something new? – learned a new language, solved a puzzle, or tried a different workout routine?  I will admit that it’s not easy for me to start something new as I am worried about being perfect and failing at the task at hand. I’ve realized that adopting a beginner mindset is key to accelerate individual disruption. The term beginner mindset coined by Shunryu Suzuki, an author, Zen monk refers to having an open-mind and not allowing our pre-conceived notions to get in the way of exploring future possibilities. Key to adopting a beginner’s mindset is to put ourselves in circumstances where you aren’t an expert at the topic and have to fumble your way through to master the skill.

In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”

Shunryu Suzuki

Think Marco, Act Micro

One of the keyways to disrupt yourself is to think macro but act at a micro level. What do I mean by that? – Think Macro means to focus on casting a vision for yourself- where you want to be, what you want to do and what success looks like for you in the next two, three, five and ten years. Once you know where you’re headed, then it’s vital to fasten your seatbelt and drive action. Act Micro means to focus on making small improvements/changes that align with your long-term vision. If your vision is to be the healthiest version of yourself, you may start with adding 10 minutes of walking every day.

Let go of your successes

This may sound absurd but it’s vital for disruption. Often, we want to build on our existing successes. While there is nothing wrong with that, we need to remember that disruption happens when we let go of our successes and start with a blank slate. Back in early 70’s typing and using a typewriter was a specialized job. By 90’s typewriters became obsolete with the entry of computers. Imagine the impact it had on millions of people who worked in that industry and how it changed their lives.  Now imagine if those people or organizations thought about ways of re-inventing themselves by letting go of their success and trying new things. As hard as it may be, it’s important to not simply rely on our successes and focus on re-inventing and re-imaging new ways to solve unforeseen problems.

Invest in yourself

One key way to disrupt yourself is to invest in yourself. I don’t just mean from a learning standpoint; we must take a wholistic approach and invest in all aspects of our lives including health, emotional and personal growth. This will prepare you to slingshot your way into your future self. There are so many ways to do that! Reading, listening to podcasts, signing up for coaching sessions, attending a conference…. options are endless; you simply have to figure out what’s important to you and make that investment in yourself.

Focus on connections

Disruption doesn’t happen in vacuum. It happens when you are keenly self-aware and aware of the external trends and needs. At the end of the day, what matters most is the connection we have with ourselves, our family, friends, and our communities. Easiest way to do that is to set aside some time to connect with people that matter most to you.

Reflect often

Reflecting often is important part of disrupting ourselves. Take time every week, month, quarter, and year to review your vision and how you are progressing towards it. At times, it might be important to see if your vision still is aligned with what’s most important to you and the trends you see in the environment. This gives you an opportunity to assess how you’re doing, if you need to pivot, and most importantly celebrate all the failures and growth you’ve seen in that time.

Be curios

Last but not the least, stay curious! Curiosity is a super-power that can help you disrupt yourself. Staying curious means being open to alternate viewpoints, dropping your pre-conceived notions and judgements.

I hope this list inspires you to prioritize yourself and think about ways you can disrupt yourself to live your best life! How are you planning to disrupt yourself? I’d love to hear from you!!

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