Are You a Disruptor

I was at a dinner party recently when I was introduced to a young man. His eyes were bright, his smile welcoming, and his energy contagious.

We chatted for a short while, exchanged a little about ourselves and our philosophy on life as often happens at gatherings, then went our separate ways.

A few weeks later, I was meeting with his boss on a different matter.  He indicated that the young man was asking for my contact information and that he was interested in coaching.

Knowing I was already at full capacity, I was torn. My willingness to pay-it-forward was in direct conflict with how many additional things I could manage to fit into a day…

My soft spot won and I am glad it did. The young man contacted me and we scheduled a time to chat. The same energy that drew me to him that first night was even more present as he began to share what he was thinking about and asking some great questions.

When I asked him about his strengths and what he thought he wanted to do, he was quick to say he wanted to be a DISRUPTOR. I listened as he passionately communicated that we (the older generation) in Corporate America were “getting it all wrong.“

He went on to say that we were failing the workforce, failing to create environments where individuals could bring, and be their best selves at work… that we were continuing to do things that we had always done that might have worked then but clearly are not working now.  (WHEW!)

The good news, I have grown through the years. I’ll be the first to admit, that at one time, I would have dismissed his message. It would have been in conflict with my own thinking at the time, and I would have missed a great opportunity to hear and consider another perspective.

On this day, his message deeply struck a chord with me… thoughts began to swirl.  I reflected and began to ask myself some tough and maybe even painful questions…

  • Are we as leaders failing the workforce of today AND tomorrow?
  • Are we keeping the best (from the past) and tossing the rest?
  • Are we creating environments where new thinking can emerge and thrive?
  • What is a DISRUPTOR and what role are they/can they play in ensuring our future as innovative organizations and world leaders?

As our conversation continued, I asked this young man three questions that gave him reason to pause. The first was, “Who is your target audience?” The second was “What do you have of value to offer?” And lastly “How do you expect to get access to that community?”

One definition of DISRUPTOR is a person or thing that prevents something, especially a system, process or event from continuing as usual or as expected.

It can be a company, a product, a technology, or a person that causes radical change in an existing market by means of innovation.

Is being a DISRUPTOR a good thing or a bad thing?

Yes, and yes… One thing is for certain: an important part of our country’s past success can and should be attributed to the role of DISRUPTORS.

Disruptors are suspicious of the status quo and constantly seek ways to stay ahead of the game.

They are intellectually curious, and are keen to understand changes in the external environment and in the minds of their consumers.

Disruption and change begin with an idea, a burning passion, an unmet need. However, most ideas go unacted upon and therefore unrealized, in other words – they become missed opportunities.

Some of the reasons are because people don’t have the courage, resources, time and/or money to take action. And for those who do take action, most are unprepared and thus find themselves spinning their wheels, spending valuable time and energy on a dream that simply goes astray.

I, for one am hopeful for the future and realize that those who have the courage and passion to be DISRUPTORS are vital to our continued success.

Are we missing an opportunity to tap into this potential game changer of DISRUPTORS?

I’m a firm believer in “if it’s meant to be, it’s up to me.”

As leaders, maybe it’s time to hit the “pause” button… how can we facilitate healthy disruption?

Please join me by asking yourself the following questions and doing what you and only you can do:

  • Do I have an open mind? Am I looking toward the future and am I willing to change?
  • Am I investing time in listening to/having dialogue with potential disruptors to ensure innovative ideas emerge and take hold?
  • What resources do I have access to that can facilitate discussion and free-thinking?
  • Am I/are we creating work environments that serve as a breeding ground for innovation?

My readers and I would love to hear your questions/thoughts/successes! Please send to


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