Disruptive Innovation

March 15th, 2014 by Steve Pavlina

I must admit that I enjoy seeing the disruptive ripples that the Internet inflicts upon traditional business models.

The old models do their best to fight to survive.¬†For example, New Jersey recently banned Tesla from selling its cars in the state, mainly so the state’s inefficient auto dealerships won’t have to compete with Tesla’s direct sales model.

New Jersey is the fifth state to ban Tesla sales so far. Two other states also severely restrict Tesla sales, and at least two more have pending legislation along these lines. Tesla stirred up a hornet’s nest of resistance.

I remember walking into a Borders bookstore a while back and thinking… This won’t be here much longer. Now it’s gone, killed by smarter, faster, bigger Internet models.

What Are You Protecting?

It’s easy to scoff when protectionist laws get passed and to ridicule the folly of such backwards thinking. But take a step back and notice what riles you up about this. Is it possible that it bugs you because you’re also holding back from inviting more disruptive innovation into your life?

Where are you being too traditional? Where in your life are you behaving like a stick in the mud? Where are you protecting what you have and clinging to outmoded attitudes?

Where will you be in five years? Why aren’t you there now? Why not get there in one year? Why so slow? What innovations are you still resisting that would get you there faster?

Are you totally pro-innovation in your own life? Are you surfing the waves of disruptive innovation with dexterity and a sense of adventure? Are you capitalizing on the opportunities of tomorrow effectively?

Or, like the anxious auto dealers, are you a little resistant to what’s coming up? Do you ever feel that change is happening too fast? Do you ever want to slow things down?

Maybe you know that your old models are dying and that you’ll eventually have no choice but to move on, just as the auto dealers already know this. But in the meantime, doesn’t it feel just a little safer to stay put for now? Change is scary and uncertain, isn’t it?

Feeling Secure in a World of Change

The key to flowing with innovation instead of resisting it is to make sure you aren’t attaching your sense of security to that which innovation can disrupt.

If you regard money as a power source, for instance, then anything that threatens your finances can throw you off balance. If your primary relationship becomes a power source, then anything that threatens it also threatens your ability to feel secure. This naturally gives rise to resistance to perceived threats.

In a world of change, it can be helpful to root your sense of security in something that isn’t so easily disrupted. You can’t feel certain about your finances. But you can feel certain about something more permanent and unchangeable.

My passion for personal growth and the principles I live by (Truth, Love, Power, Oneness, Authority, Courage, Intelligence) are timeless. They don’t change.

No matter how many twists and turns my life takes, I can feel stable and secure. Sure I get knocked off balance at times. I get surprised. Sometimes it takes me a while to adapt. But I always seem to land on my feet. Whatever happens I take it in stride.

This is because I don’t root my security in anything that can be threatened. I stretch the roots of my identity ever more deeply into that which is invulnerable.

Invulnerable Roots

Money is vulnerable. Curiosity is invulnerable.

A relationship is vulnerable. Love is invulnerable.

A job is vulnerable. Humor is invulnerable.

If I became too attached to the vulnerable items in my life, I’d feel more stressed and anxious. I’d worry about potential threats. I might become depressed after suffering a loss.

I do my best to remember that the vulnerable items in my life are temporary and that it would be unwise to become too attached to them. I can enjoy and appreciate them for now, but someday they’ll be gone. I own nothing in my life. Everything here is temporary.

Oddly, the less attachment I feel towards the vulnerable items, the easier it is to summon them into my reality and to enjoy them fully.

When I saw money as a power source, for instance, I couldn’t attract it. I couldn’t even hold onto what I had. I sank into debt — for years. Earning money was hard. Saving it was hard. Enjoying it wasn’t even part of my thinking; money was too precious and scarce to enjoy. Money was more about necessities like paying the rent and buying food.

When I adopted the attitude that money is just a tool for my growth, a learning aid, and a plaything, I enjoyed its presence in my life much more and didn’t feel personally threatened when my income fluctuated. This attitude allowed me to make decisions with a more playful and experimental attitude, such as dropping the Google Adsense ads from my website in 2008, even though they were bringing in $100K+ per year in passive income. I wanted to play with earning money in different ways and not become attached to ad revenue, which was becoming too easy. Being unattached to money makes me a lot happier too.

Self Disruption

Instead of waiting for the world to inflict disruptive innovation upon you, why not beat it to the punch?

If you root your personal security in concepts and ideas that are invulnerable to disruptive change (because they’re infinitely adaptable), you can play with life at a whole new level. You can create your own disruptive changes, just for the fun and the experience.

One disruptive change I inflicted upon myself was to uncopyright my online content (articles, podcasts, videos, and social media updates) and to donate it to the public domain in 2010. This amounts to about 30 books worth of material that I created over a period of many years. Each new article I write, including this one, is automatically donated to the public domain. I don’t own it. I wouldn’t have done this if I attached my personal security or my business success to the ownership of intellectual property. I didn’t feel threatened by this action. Take it as a positive demonstration of how secure I feel.

Copyright ownership is already temporary. In the USA an author’s work remains copyrighted by default for the author’s lifetime plus 70 years. Why wait so long? If that’s going to happen anyway, wouldn’t it be more fun to see what ripples would have otherwise been created 70 years after your death and to be able to interact with them today? Let’s press fast forward and see how it goes.

When I’ve been experiencing too much of the same for a while, I like to inject some disruptive innovation to stir the pot a bit. Mix things up. Put a new challenge on my plate. Roll some new dice. Deal from a fresh deck.

When we go slow, it’s often due to fear. We fear that we won’t adapt well to life on the other side. But the other side is where all the fun and adventure — and growth — is to be enjoyed. And in any event, fearing the other side totally ruins our lives on the pre-shifted side, creating stress, worry, and resistance.

Experiencing the shift is better than fearing the shift. Think of how much fun it would be to work at an auto dealership that accepted Tesla’s direct sales model challenge head on by engaging their teams to creatively innovate right back. How about training salespeople to actually add value to a sale instead of using manipulative tactics to squeeze out extra money? How about test drives that involve more than just four right turns? How about some decent free coffee instead of Folger’s? And when I walk in the door, where’s my hug???

Those auto dealers are robbing themselves of some fabulous growth experiences. They could gift their employees with the benefits of working in an exciting, change-driven, innovative field. There’s certainly room for innovation in terms of customer service.

Resisting change is stressful. Embracing change, however, is just plain fun.

When we fear change, we slow down our growth. Tesla has a disruptive product and a disruptive business model for its industry. It’s not the first disruptive company, and it won’t be the last. This kind of change is good for us in the long run. It injects fresh energy into stale and stagnant industries. Dealing with change is what makes going to work each day fun and engaging.

Why are we still using combustion engines? Let’s move on. Collectively we already know how to be smarter than that.

Embracing Your Path

Let’s not beat up those who appear to be putting up roadblocks to change. That won’t solve anything. Let’s instead look to ourselves and observe our own blocks.

Where are you resisting change? Where are you moving too slowly? Where are you clinging to outmoded rules and behaviors? What innovations are you pushing away?

Could you speed up? Could you stop resisting? Could you start moving more quickly along the path that you’ll eventually take anyway? Why make it take five years? You could do it this year. You know that. Going faster would be a lot more fun, wouldn’t it?

Look first to yourself. Align your sense of self with invulnerable concepts to make it easier to welcome disruptive innovation, and you’ll inject that attitude more fully into the world. And soon you’ll be driving a car without an archaic combustion engine… except that you won’t actually be driving. The car will be driving you. :)



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