Disrupt Yourself

Businesses can be disruptive.  Markets can be disrupted.  Many business and industry leaders are either looking for the next innovation that they can use to disrupt, or are fighting against a disruption they are confronted with.

I want to make it more personal.  I want to disrupt myself.

Have you ever been comfortable?  Think about how hard it is to get moving when you are lounging about on a comfortable couch.  Now think about your job.  Are you comfortable?

I was.  I had a great job.  I worked for a great company.  For many years I had progression.  I had opportunities to learn new things and develop new skills.  Then the progression stopped.  It wasn’t the fault of the company, I just had nothing else to learn.  I was no longer challenged.  The problem was, I had become comfortable, and because of that comfort, I found it extremely difficult to move forward once more.  Fear played a very large part too.  “I can’t leave now, I’ve been here too long”.  “I don’t have a ‘specialist’ skill”.  “I’m too old”.

I decided that I needed to force a change.  The only way I can ever know how great I can truly be, is to break out of that comfort, challenge myself to face adversity.

I needed to “disrupt” myself.

I started challenging myself by doing something different.

I took up running.  I started with short runs, worked up to 8km, half marathons, and finally, the Melbourne Marathon.

I tried learning something new.  I started studying massage therapy.  I signed up for a course that I could do by correspondence.  I’m only half way through this.  I’m not even sure I’ll finish.  I can win brownie points with my Wife though.

I started reading books.  I don’t mean Fifty shades of Grey or the Twilight saga.  I kicked off with a couple of books by Dale Carnegie.  I’m currently reading The Lean Startup by Eric Reis.  Next up is Abundance by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler.

I also started watching a lot of motivational videos on YouTube.  Eric Thomas, Les Brown, Zig Ziglar.  All great to listen to, especially first thing in the morning when you need to get up and going.

The biggest change though?  I used to wake up at 7:00am.  Now I am up at 4:30.  Its amazing what that 2 hours can do for you in the morning.  Whether to exercise, read, study, write, listen to motivational speakers or just come up with ideas, that two hours in the morning sets me up for the rest of the day.  Naturally I go to bed earlier as a result, but I feel much better for it.  I am also sleeping a lot better.

None of these things on their own was enough to get me out of my funk, though.  They were merely the catalyst for the biggest change of all.  Small steps that allowed me to test myself safely with things at which I was pretty confident I wouldn’t fail.  Through them, I developed enough confidence to take a much bigger leap.  I was able to quit my job and start this consulting business.  Had I just jumped straight into this, I most certainly would have failed.  I still might.  If I do though, I will seek, and be ready for, the next challenge.

If you want to disrupt yourself, you need to make the decision first, and commit to it.

Here’s how.

First, change your attitude.  If there something not working right for you, it’s probably your fault.  The more we focus on finding blame and directing it at others in our lives, the harder it is to find a way to move on.  Accept responsibility for your own actions, your own choices and decisions.  Once you do that, you can set about changing in yourself that which you need to change.

I became comfortable because I stopped chasing the difficult challenges.  I didn’t want the confrontations, or to step out of my comfort zone.  I accept responsibility for that.

Next, try these things: -

Make some sacrifices

To make a change, we must, by definition, give up some of the things we are doing right now.  There are a limited number of hours in a day, and if we are going to work on disrupting ourselves, we need to stop doing some things in order to be able to do something else.

I think I’m addicted to TV.  I would watch anything and everything.  I can’t walk through a room with a TV on and not pause to see what’s on, even if it’s an ad.  If I didn’t go to work, I think I would watch TV all day, and most of the night.

I made a conscious decision to reduce the amount of TV I watch.  That was one of my sacrifices.  I still watch some TV.  I love to watch Shark Tank (@sharktankau) and I’ll sneak an episode of The Simpsons every now and then.

To compensate, I now watch quite a bit of YouTube, but I watch TED Talks like this one from Whitney Johnson, or motivational videos from Les Brown or Eric Thomas.  I also listen to a lot of podcasts.  James Altucher and Reply All are my current faves.

Work hard

Be prepared to work harder than you have ever worked in your life.  There is no easy fix, no magic pill.  Anything that you want to achieve is going to take lots and lots of hard work.  It will take hours and hours of study to learn something new, or practising a new skill, or train your body to be able to do something different like run a marathon.

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 5th rule in his 6 rules for success is “Work Like Hell”.  This isn't just for working out like Hercules.  It is important in everything we do in life.  As Arnie says; “None of my rules... will work unless you do”

No matter what you are trying to achieve, it’s not going to be handed to you in a gift wrapped box.  Work hard, every day.

Be passionate about something

We all have something that we could be passionate about.  It might be a cause, like animal rights, the environment, poverty and hunger, access to education for women and girls.  It might be sport or intellectual challenges.

Embrace your passion.  Become involved.  This doesn’t just mean having a rant on Facebook or including a hashtag in your latest tweet.  It also doesn’t mean become a political activist and inciting trouble.

If you love sport, don’t just go to as many games as you can, join a team yourself, or become a coach.  If you’re passionate about the environment, find out where the next volunteering clean up event is.  If you’re passionate about poverty, volunteer at a local shelter or soup kitchen.

Volunteer your time and you’ll be making a difference in someone elses life as well as your own.

Or you could start a social enterprise like Daniel Flynn of Thankyou Water, or Cassie Dewar of Inspirationery.  These are people who wanted to make a change and went about getting it done.  They may not have had the business idea to begin with, but they had a passion first and foremost.

Do something creative

Paint something.  Make music.  Write a short story.

James Clear, author of “Transform Your Habits”, writes about the effect creativity has on our health.  It has long been believed that creative pursuits help to relieve stress.  Being creative can also help declutter our minds, allowing us to think clearer.

Try something you’ve always wanted to try but haven’t for whatever reason.  You don’t need to be a right-brain person.  It doesn’t even need to be any good.  You don’t need to spend a pile of money and bunch of hours learning to be creative.  Just be.

I recently wrote a short story, because I wanted to see if I could.  It’s not very good.  I might never write another one.  Next week I might paint a landscape.

Ask “Why not?”

Fear stops us from doing so many wonderful things in our lives, unnecessarily.  Sometimes fear is good, like when you’re confronted by a lion.  Be honest though; when was the last time you were confronted by a lion?

When you are given an opportunity to try something new or challenging, ask yourself “Why not?”  What do you have to lose?  Dignity?  Sometimes I think we overvalue our own dignity.  I know I do.  “What if I say the wrong thing and look stupid?”  “What if people don’t like my articles?”  “What if I forget what I want to say when I get on stage?”

You might think you save face if you don’t do something, but how can you save something if you don’t risk losing it in the first place?

Write an article about disrupting myself?  Why not?

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My journey of disruption isn’t over yet.  I’m only a few steps past the starting line.  In just a short few months, though, I have made massive steps into the unknown.  I have met new people by attending networking events; something I have found extremely difficult to do.  Waaaayyy outside of my little zone of comfort.  I am not only embracing change, I am searching for challenges that I would previously have avoided at all cost.

Try these three things:

  1. Find the extent of your comfort zone
  2. Push outside the boundaries with small steps; things that you are confident you will succeed at
  3. Take a deep breath and jump

What will it take for you to disrupt yourself?  Have you already been disrupted?  Share your stories with me in the comment section below.  I’d love to hear them!

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