What’s the first thing that pops into your head when you hear the word “Disruptive”? I tend to think of a noisy child in a classroom (probably because I’ve had experience as this child in school) or of someone who is going against the established order or protocol of a community. Usually, what comes to mind is someone who is disturbing several other people. But have you ever thought of being disruptive as disturbing yourself? More specifically, disrupting your thoughts, or engaging in disruptive thinking? What is disruptive thinking, and why should we even bet interested in it? Let’s find out…
We all have established beliefs that influence how we view ourselves, others, and the world around us. They form our ideals about how the world works according to “insert your name”. These beliefs influence our decision making and self-talk, affect our attitude, and shape our outlook on life on a daily basis. Being disruptive challenges our long held beliefs and causes us to ask ourselves questions like:
- Is this belief still accurate, valid, or relevant today?
- Is there a better way to do what I’m currently doing?
- Is there evidence that supports or disproves this belief?
- Are there other possibilities I should be exploring and considering?
In short, being disruptive is about challenging the status quo of our own thinking. To me, this concept is extremely important, because if we want to change any aspect of our lives, it is going to require changing what we’ve been doing on a daily basis, which usually requires a change to our current thinking and how we view the world around us. Changing our thinking will often cause us to be confronted with one or more of our strongly held beliefs.
So what does it look like to be disruptive in our thinking? Here are a few examples of how a disruptive thought can challenge a long held belief in order to change your thinking:
Long held belief: An artist might have always been told, “Artists don’t make money. Being an artist and being an entrepreneur are mutually exclusive.”
Disruptive thought: The artist could shake up that long held belief with the disruptive thought, “Why can’t artists run a successful business that showcases their art? What if I were to … (insert disruptive thinking idea)?”
Long held belief: A would-be business owner might have been taught to believe, “It costs too much money to start a business. Doing so requires going tens of thousands of dollars, or more, into debt. “
Disruptive thought: The budding entrepreneur could challenge that long held belief with the disruptive thought, “Who says I have to go into debt to start a business? Why can’t I leverage my skills, talents, and experience and technology to start an on-line business for less than $1,000? I’ve got valuable skills the marketplace needs and would willingly pay for”
Long held belief: A young person in high school may have been taught to believe that, “The only way you can be guaranteed a bright future is by getting stellar grades in high school, scoring high on the SAT, and graduating from a top tier college.”
Disruptive thought: What if this student were to challenge that long held belief with the disruptive thoughts, “Why do I have to go to college for 4+ years, and spend all that money on tuition to be successful? What if instead I gained some experience in my chosen field now and started learning from people who are currently doing what I want to do? Is a degree really required for what I want to do? Could those 4 years at college be better spent gaining real experience to help me become successful? Is there another path to success that I haven’t considering yet?”
Are you getting the idea of what disruptive thinking looks like? Can you see how it can challenge your current way of thinking and cause you to consider other possibilities that you may not have been able to consider before, due to the interference of a long held belief?
I’m not saying that we should abandon all our long held beliefs, but we should be willing to examine them and determine if any could be keeping us from achieving better results in our lives. As mentioned before, if you want to cause something to happen that is different from what you’ve been doing, a new way of thinking will most likely be required. Be mindful about disrupting your thinking on a regular cadence to see if you have any long held beliefs that are acting as logjams to the advancement of your goals. The faster track to your success might just be a disruptive thought away!