21 November 2016

Embracing the disruptive potential
of the unknown.

Disruption is one of the biggest buzzwords of our time, especially in business. We read about it everyday in the context of ideas like “disruptive innovation” and when it is used to describe the rise of companies like Uber.

However, while we create strategies for our companies to deal with disruption, we don’t always think about how we as business leaders, as individuals, deal with this kind of upheaval. What strategies do we have in place? How do we think about our journey when we confront disruption both in our personal and professional lives?

At its core, disruption is about a radical break with past patterns that sees new patterns emerge. What once was is remade anew. For some people, this can be a disconcerting step into the unknown. But for others it can be a liberating opportunity to rethink and reimagine our lives.

This point was brilliantly illustrated to me recently when I had the opportunity to hear world renowned neuroscientist Dr Joe Dispenza speak.

Dr Dispenza is a leading thinker on how we can retrain our minds to reshape our personalities and our realities. In essence, he says that we can go from “thinking to doing to being”, what he calls “the science of changing your mind”.

Dispenza’s ideas are based on the complex science behind the workings of the brain and how it interacts with its environment. It goes to the very heart of the difference between really living, being a conscious and full participant in life, and just merely existing, plodding through each day on autopilot.

When we begin to understand the power of the mind, and that we have control over this incredible tool, we come to the realisation that our past is not necessarily our future. It’s a point where you surrender your thoughts, memories, emotions, your addictions, your habits, the baggage in your life and start living. Living a new life replacing old habits with new habits. 

What has this got to do with disruption?

When we are confronted by disruption, at the professional or personal level, we often resort to the thoughts and behaviours that have served us in the past. We look to our experience in the hope it can reveal the path through disruption. But the familiar is no longer the controlling denominator for our new reality. Our reliance on the same old ideas, tropes, words, behaviours fail us in the face of disruptive new realities. The path is not behind us, it is in front of us.

Einstein is credited with saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” Yet so many of us keep butting our heads against the wall when confronted with a new reality.

Instead, we need to step back and realise the controlling denominator is no longer what we have done in the past, but what we can think, do and be in the present. Our mind is the key to facing what we may perceive to be an adversity.

The clarity we get from stilling our mind, from allowing it to rest and contemplate, gives us the chance to know ourselves and better understand our place in a situation. We get the space that allows us to think our way to becoming a new person.

Know your mind and you will know what it is you need to do and who you want to be. And when confronted with the challenge of disruption, you won’t see a threat, but an opportunity.

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