To break. To break apart. To throw into disorder. To interrupt the normal course or unity of.
Disrupt – positive or negative?
Most people would likely chime in “negative!”
Some scenarios may be someone disrupting your internal monologue as you tap away at the computer or when you are focused on solving a problem, a spreadsheet formula glitch perhaps.
Or when you are cooking an evening meal and your dog and cat get into it. Maybe your 5-year-old decides she needs the dog’s water bowl for her castle.
A disruption breaks the flow of concentration, a tried-and-tested path to completing a task, or a habit.
A habit such as taking the same route home for the past 15 years.
You could be disrupted when someone walks her dogs in your direction and you don’t care for, or even are terrified of, dogs. It is a nuisance, an inconvenience. It forces you into an uncomfortable space.
If you have ever taught, you would know there is always that one person. The one who constantly asks questions or interrupts with comments or groans at your suggestions for a classroom/workshop exercise. This person can interject so often that the material you want to cover is at risk of being not. You have a responsibility to the other students and it is irritating you.
Disruption, then, to most people is negative and unwelcomed. It delays us and can be a danger. We have busy lives and we’ve been told time is money. Or we simply do not like change. Or the possibility of change.
Positive and negative are terms of duality. In this paradigm, we associate positive with the good stuff and negative with the bad stuff. It really is perspective, though. In the bigger scheme of things, there are no positives or negatives. It is a yin yang flow.
The idea – disruption – is often unwelcome. But some disruption can be positive – even vital – catalyst for change.
How is disruption a positive thing?
Unforeseen happenings jolt us out of our routine or a planned execution of tasks. It creates the space and is an opportunity for us to pause. What we do with that pause is enlightening. Do we rage? Do we take a deep breath? Maybe we continue on. Maybe we see this as a chance to look up and see where we are. Check if our compass still points true north. Perhaps we have strayed off course and we need to tweak, fine tune, or overhaul our plan. You know what they say about the best-laid plans.
The new space may be uncomfortable, disconcerting, pulling our focus onto something we would rather ignore. Sometimes that pull is forceful and abrupt. It takes courage to hang out in this space, to face the hill that takes us to the next plateau, the curve to the next spiral. In this space, we challenge the status quo and assumptions, limitations we have placed or have been placed for us. Positive change comes from being outside our comfort zone.
Disruptions is a positive thing when we can use it to move towards where we want to be. They can offer new, previously unthought of, outlier ideas. We have blinkers on and sometimes we need to things pointed out to us, to know they exist and possible at this time.
Ways to Have More Positive Disruptions
① Invite, Ignite, and Allow New Conversations + Perspectives
From a mindset of curiosity and respect, we can all agree to disagree. The gold is in between. Between two or more diverse perspectives lie many lessons, ahas, and impetus for more open-minded and expansive thinking and living.
Leave your ego aside and have a real conversation. It is not about convincing people of your point of view, as much as sharing it. Putting it all on the table and looking at it, together. Juxtaposed.
Have you ever gotten into a conversation that turned awkward? Maybe even angry and even friendship-breaking? And then you go deeper, delving in and unravelling mysteries. There is no need to convince the other person of your point of view. No ego-bashing. No name-calling.
That honest and raw conversation can let you get to the core of the issue by allowing new perspectives in to open up new possibilities that can improve the quality of life.
② Move Outside of the Self
A reason many people see any disruptions as negative is they feel these occurrences are an affront to them. That people deliberately cut them off in traffic or in the grocery line. Or that the student is deliberately testing them. This may or may not be true. To live from the belief that it is always true puts people ill at ease and leave them untrusting. Stress goes up, health goes down. It’s not a pretty cycle of ups and downs.
See disruptions as pokes from the universe to re-look at what’s going on, from a personal level to an organizational or systemic level. Especially if there is a pattern of disruptions. Looking inward to see why they are such a trigger can help relieve underlying powerful and stress-inducing beliefs.
③ Live Fearlessly
Have the courage to look at disruptions in the eye and not crumble at the face of change. Living fearlessly does not mean living without fear. Being fearless means not allowing fears to be the master.
This is a bold statement, a scary one even. Start small and be consistent. You don’t have to conquer your fear of heights by bungy jumping or sky diving. You could. You don’t have to quit your job today, and live off-grid. You could. In other words, living fearlessly is not about one huge sweeping gesture. Or about flipping the bird at the system. It’s how we approach life in every way, every day.