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Published:July 18th, 2007 13:31 EST
Disruptive Detection, Stealth Clarity?

Disruptive Detection, Stealth Clarity?

By Simon Bailey (Mentor/Columnist)

If you intend to experience the ultimate personal and professional life, then believe me, disruption is in your future. “Disruptionâ€" is one of the most important words for you to embrace on your journey. It first appeared in 1646 and comes from the Latin word disruptionem which means “to break apart or split.â€" There will come a time when you will have to break with the old to embrace the new, to let go of what is comfortable and convenient in order to grow and expand.

Disruption leads to new discoveries…if you are open, present and willing to pause and analyze what’s really going on and reflect on what you can learn from it. For individuals, disruptions present an opportunity to refocus on what matters most, to de-clutter your heart, mind and soul, and to uncover hidden seeds of brilliance within you.

For businesses, disruptions offer the chance to modify your products/services to better align with current trends or to develop inventive, alternative products/services. Shifting your business in response to or anticipation of consumer demand ensures your organization will stay relevant and stay profitable in an ever-changing economy.

History offers countless examples of disruptions that have served to break apart seemingly stable industries and put them back together in a completely different structure. In 1995, opened an online bookstore, positioning itself to sell directly to consumers and offering free shipping as a hook to drive loyalty. This pioneering company caused a commotion in the traditional book publishing industry and completely transformed the way books are distributed.

Fifteen years ago, most people called their local travel agent to make travel arrangements. Today, anyone with an Internet connection and a few minutes can book their own travel anywhere in the world through supplier websites and websites such as Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz and Sidestep. Travel agents who acknowledged and proactively reacted to this disruption changed their business model and survived. Those who thought the disruption was a passing fad woke up one day to find that their marketplace had disappeared.

Then there are companies that intentionally induce their own internal disruptions in order to remain relevant and competitive. Here are a few examples:

  • Known today for its high-end jewelry and little blue box, Tiffany & Co. was in the stationery and fancy goods emporium business when it was founded in 1837.

  • World-renowned video-game maker Nintendo was established in Japan in 1889 as a maker of handmade playing cards.

  • Gucci, famous for top quality shoes and handbags, started as a small leather goods company making everything from saddles to luggage.

  • Teen clothier Abercrombie & Fitch began as an outdoor sports outfitter.

  • Fiber optics giant Corning found initial success manufacturing glass and ceramic wares.

All of these companies were flexible, nimble and insightful enough to proactively disrupt the norm and move in a new, fresh direction.

What about you? When the next disruption takes place, which side of the fence will you be on? Will you be the one initiating the disturbance or the one sitting on the other side watching it happen?

When you consider the personal impact of disruption, what comes to mind? What are you going to have to break or split from in order to fly and soar? What bold moves do you need to make in order to live your life by design rather than by default? How can you initiate a disruption?

How can you initiate a disruption?

  • Be bold and challenge yourself to do something you’ve never done before – go rock climbing or windsurfing, learn a foreign language, volunteer for an organization in a capacity outside your comfort zone.

  • Explore other professional opportunities. Check out Vocation Vacations (, a company that enables you to test-drive your dream job.

  • If you’re a leader, rotate leadership responsibilities among the high-potential, A-level players on your team. Allow them to be boss for a week and let them experience leadership firsthand.

Discovery happens to those hungry for change. Be open to profound disorientation (when nothing makes sense and yet there is an assurance in your soul that everything is working in your favor) as you move towards profound clarification.

Simon Believes…When you disrupt everything you believe in, you will discover everything you can be.

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