This post is inspired by a conversation I had with my friend @RebeccaSaltman while I was the guest teacher for a class she leads.
Disruptive. Unreasonable. These are very hot words that I see everywhere these days. We want to be the contrarian. The one who shakes things up. The one who doesn’t settle. And I am ALL about those things. I mean, heck, my blog is called Escaping Mediocrity and I teach my children to be anything but sheep.
But here’s the thing. There is a huge difference between being disruptive and just being annoying. Successful Disruptors, those who actually make things happen, are intensely aware of this fact. They know that if they tilt into the annoying category, no one will listen to them, follow them or even entertain their disruptive point of view. They’ll get tuned out and disrupt in a vacuum. Not the ideal situation.
So, what do the successful Disruptors do to keep themselves out of the annoying category? Here are a few of my thoughts:
1) They do their own research and their own homework. They don’t filter their research so that they only know the facts that support their disruptive point of view. In fact, they usually know more about the opposing point of view than those who actually hold it. This gives them immense power in any discussion.
2) They attack ideas, not people. Personal denigration has no place in disruption. Successful Distruptors know that vitriolic attacks on people are a) easy to dismiss and b) reflect poorly on the attacker not on the attackee.
3) They are diligently self-aware. The great Disruptors that I know always check their extreme emotional responses and reactions to make sure there isn’t something going on with themselves that they need to address. Public emotional temper tantrums do not advance a Disruptive movement (Steve Jobs not withstanding).
I have more ideas but, as always, I’m much more interested in what you think. What do you think separates the Successful Disruptor from the Annoying Also Ran?