In this book the analyst Whitney Johnson draws on her experience to make the case for disruptive innovation in your personal work, arguing that disrupting yourself is critical to avoid stagnation and fast-tracking personal and career growth. A base for her theory is the S-shaped curve of disruptive innovation: slow growth at first, then reaching a tipping point that kick starts the hyper-growth phase until it plateaus when saturation is reached.
In order to go along the curve the author identifies 7 steps to cope with the fear that comes with disrupting yourself:
- Taking the right risks: she distinguishes between competitive risk and market risk. People prefer competitive risk because it feels more secure but the market risk is the right risk to take when looking for a new learning curve. She draws from business research, brain science and the natural world to argue that market risk is less risky in the long-run, among other reasons because once you identify the market and fulfill its need, you are the only one who can do the job.
- Play to your distinctive strength: You need to identify what you do well in order to choose the right S-curve. The author proposes challenging questions to find that out and then proposes to combine passions about a problem with your strength. “The right problems are those you somehow feel called to solve and are capable of solving, because of your expertise and accumulated life experience. […] look for a job that no one else is doing.
- Embrace Constraints: they offer structure to liberate from chaos, help us to get faster feedback, support us in solving for one variable (time, money, expertise, buy-in) at a time. → Clear thinking with the right constraints can lead to unequivocal answers. Pushing against constraints makes you stronger and therefore are valuable tools of creation.
- Battle Entitlement, the Innovation Killer:
- Cultural entitlement – prevents us from looking at the world outside our culture and deludes out thinking – Solution: change your environment
- Emotional Entitlement – the sense that our feelings must be protected at all costs – Solution: Be grateful
- Intellectual Entitlement – a resistance to ideas from sources we deem beneath us – Solution: Practice hearing dissenting voices
- Step Down, Back or Sideways to Grow: High performing companies are the ones who develop capabilities before they need them. It’s almost always better to step back than to be pushed back. Likewise, an individual’s well being depends on learning and advancement – far too many come to a standstill on the top of the curve. Become a lifelong learner! “Lose something now to win something that is bigger and better.” You need to swallow your ego and rethink your own performance metrics (aside from money that can be social and psychological metrics.) How do you define success? What really counts in life? → jump out of the comfort zone to grow!
- Give Failure It’s Due: Change the way you look at failure. Fighting feels better than failing – you don’t fail until you admit defeat. “Learn to fail or fail to learn” → plan to fail to not be affected emotionally too much. See it as an opportunity to grow and don’t suck up to societies’ definition of “loser”. Embrace failure and share it with someone you trust. The more you welcome failure, the more likely you will find your way to success.
- Be Driven by Discovery: Since disruptors play where no one else is playing, they need to be flexible and discover driven. The authors outlines a map for “planning” discovery. Especially at the beginning of the career, this is advisable to find your true vocation. Leading predictor of C-level success is insatiable curiosity and a willingness to learn → update your measure of success. You will probably end up where you have not anticipated to be. This discovery can sometimes be scary and lonely. (Note from Jonas: find an accountability partner on the same journey!). The outcome is worth the struggle. Still, you need a plan of where your learning curve will take you! Is it being your own boss, doing something you love, financial gain or work-life balance? Purpose is a key ingredient for top performers. Know “WHY?” you are doing this to discover patiently and with determination.
Conclusion: Learning is not linear but exponential! The more you disrupt yourself the better you will get at it. You are far less likely to fail if you keep disrupting yourself!
This is an amazing book that gave me confidence in what I am currently doing. My why is not only to be my own boss about my own time but also to help and inspire others to live more meaningfully and joyfully. Taking risks to discover new markets both professionally and personally always pays of in the long run if you embrace failure and keep up your curiosity!
I am reading A LOT of books lately and to remember more of what I read, I summarize them and give my thoughts on it. I thought why not share it with you. If you buy the book through the links at the end of the post, I might get a little bit of commission at no charge to you.