As I continue to venture into the world of disrupting and creating, I’m more and more conscious how few people pursue opportunities to explore, evolve and become. Many are in positions of leadership yet they play it safe. Meanwhile, the current age is marked by radical and rapid change that is fueled by risk. It leaves us with a critical choice.
Stability vs Risk?
The stable leader worries about what they might leave behind if they take the risk. They know their jobs are on the line if they fail so they focus on what is predictably safe and successful. They fear failure so they play it safe to ensure success. Besides, if they risk and fail, their employer won’t be happy. It is understandable why one would play it safe.
Meanwhile those on the cutting edge have a different focus. They measure what they could potential lose but they also measure what they will lose if they don’t change radically and rapidly enough. They know that failing to disrupt may be just as risky as disrupting. They know that those that do not disrupt will be left behind.
We see this played out in our history.
Our Disruptive Roots
The United States of America has a rich history of disrupting the present to pursue a better future. We are a country comprised of immigrants and homesteaders that willingly left all to pursue their dreams.
My ancestors traveled from Norway, England, Germany and Ireland. Even once they arrived, they were not content to stay where they first settled. They kept disrupting their lives.
I’m especially mindful of my paternal grandparents leaving family, friends and a stable life in that small town of Mechanicsville, Iowa back in 1909. From an outsider’s perspective, it wasn’t much of an existence. But for them, it was all they had known for 3 or 4 generations. It would have been easy to stay and work within the parameters life provided.
But that wasn’t enough. They knew there was something much better and the best way to have it was to disrupt their lives. So they risked it all, traveling 600 miles west and north to Hays, South Dakota. That doesn’t sound so difficult in today’s mobile society but look at the photo. There was no comfort, predictable success or safety. They were challenged with the very basics of life.
No wonder neighbors, friends and family advised against it. They were told “You will be back. We have it too good here.”
The Spirit of Disruption
Those caring people didn’t grasp the value of disrupting. They didn’t appreciate the spirit of entrepreneurship or pursuing one’s dream. They didn’t fully grasp how that spirit fosters a livelihood that can become part of our individual and collective DNA. They also didn’t see how for the risk taker, civilization is NOT safe. It becomes a prison unless they forget their dream, deny the current struggles and ignore progress. The risk taker, i.e the immigrant, homesteader, entrepreneur, activist and visionary, is the dreamer who forever searches for what can be instead of settling for what has been. To them, dreaming isn’t a waste of time but the beginning of a great vision, smart strategy and effective action plan.
Maybe that is what makes the U.S.A. so great. It is comprised of millions who disrupted their stable lives for a dream of what might be. But this disruptive spirit dies unless each generation embraces it. To get too comfortable is to lose that spirit and ultimately to miss the best opportunities. Imagine if our ancestors would have decided that disruption wasn’t worth the risk.
- Who were your disruptive ancestors?
- What did they do that risked everything they had?
- What great opportunities will you miss if you play it safe?
POWER TIP of the DAY: When facing a new opportunity, calculate both the cost of disrupting and the cost of being stable.
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I am Dr. Loren Murfield and I help leaders leverage their leadership power to do what followers and critics claim is impossible. If you are ready, willing and able, I can help you take that next step to creating your revolutionary transformation. Contact me today by emailing Loren@MurfieldCoaching.com.
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