Do You Play it Safe – or Dare to Disrupt?

Every leader asks the question at some point, “Do I play it safe or do I take a chance and create a radical change?”

While there is no easy answer, I have found five times when I say, “Yes, this is the time to go for it.”

Here are five times.

First:  When You are Frustrated with Mediocrity

When I was first introduced to photography, everything was pretty mediocre. I took pictures and, like any new beginners, was pretty pleased at what I did.

I was introduced to photography by my parents as part of a 4-H project for our annual county Achievement Days. I had no formal training or even any real mentoring but was given a small camera and a roll of film. With the project, I had a goal and was looking for photos to display. You can imagine my excitement when I mounted the 3 x 3 photos on the poster board, proudly brought it to the entry table and impatiently waited for the judging the next day.

Unfortunately, it didn’t impress the judges. They could easily see it was a beginner and noted the lack of imagination. In retrospect, they were right.  It was just an arrangement of uneventful snapshots. While I was a bit disappointed I listened to what they said and decided to be more creative.

I could have been discouraged and quiet but I saw the promise as I looked at the winning entries.  I knew I wanted more and also knew that continual mediocrity often leads to frustration and a habit of quitting. That isn’t what I wanted.

Are you frustrated enough with mediocrity to make a significant change?

Second:  When You are Inspired by Something New

As the time flew by, I grew and got busy with a lot of other interests. I still had my camera but it wasn’t a priority until after high school when I left South Dakota for Seattle. I was mesmerized by the mountains, trees and water. I wanted to capture the sites not just in my mind but also on film. So I bought a better camera and experimented with different angles and was excited to learn how to take artistic double exposures. In the process, I disrupted my identity, being known as the guy with the camera.

Are you inspired enough by something new to make a radical change?

Third:  When You Hone a New Skill

With my first SLR, was determined to take shots like the professionals.  I was inspired but needed to become more disciplined and hone my skills. I subscribed to Outdoor Photographer, read books and talked with a friend who had taken a class.  But most importantly, I went out and took photos, evaluated my progress, learned more, took more photos and continued the process.  Every time I felt like I had mastered the skill, I pushed for the next level.

Are you determined to hone a new skill until you have the confidence and competence to perform at the top level?

Fourth:  When You Change Perspectives

Today I purposely look at the world differently, changing perspectives to find the unique angle.  I not only seek the opposite of where I did before, I go out of my way to find the fresh approach.  Maybe that is why I entertain a fascination with architecture, sculptures and unique settings. I purposely positioned myself away from others and doing what others did not. Notice in this shot of Las Vegas in 2011, I was looking up while everyone else was looking down.  I could not have gotten that shot had I followed the patterns of everyone else on that sidewalk.  I had to be willing to be different to get the result that is dramatic.

Are you willing to change perspectives to see what others do not?


Fifth:  When You Need to Be Different.

I’m not a professional photographer – It’s a hobby, but one that has changed my life. In learning more about the process, I discovered a great metaphor for leading and living.  It is in photography that I learned to be different. I had been taught all my life to fit it, but that didn’t work.  All that lead to was my being invisible, over looked and replaced.

But through photography, I found a metaphor to become a disruptive leader in the classroom and with executive clients, to start writing books and blogs, launching companies and sharing what I learned from being different. I valued my uniqueness and, in turn, so did my clients.

I learned that being different is critical to any of us who are determined to be disruptive leaders. They don’t want ordinary.  They want products and services that radically change their world.  That doesn’t happen by following or replicating what others do. Disruption starts with our determination to be different so we can discover what others miss. Disruption continues with an appreciation for what we find that others will appreciate. It also drives us further and further to push ourselves beyond what others would. In the end, being different becomes part of our identity, central to our mission and our passion. We disrupt to make a difference and as leaders, we need to see what others cannot, will not or simply do not.

In what ways do you look at the world differently?

How are your clients waiting for you to move beyond ordinary and offer products and services that rock their world?

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I am Dr. Loren Murfield and I work with aspiring and emerging leaders leverage their power  to do what critics believe is impossible.If you are ready to begin proving your critics wrong, click here to contact me today.

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