The iPod disrupted the music industry. eBooks disrupted traditional publishing. The Internet disrupted just about everything. And more than likely, the disruptors in your company are the ones that are getting promoted and reaching their dreams while the rule-following automatons remain frustrated at their cubes.
In the past, your job was to do what you were told. Follow instructions, keep your head down, don't make waves. But today things are very different. Today, we live in a world where playing it safe is irresponsibly dangerous.
In today's hyper-competitive environment, working hard and doing a decent job are no longer enough. Competency, good service, and professionalism are now merely the ante to play. We now live in a world with exponential complexity and dizzying speed. A world where standing out is more important than fitting in.
We are taught to follow the rules, do what the boss says, and that mistakes must be avoided at all costs. Yet this traditional approach is a surefire path to mediocrity. Today, an entirely new set of skills are needed in order to win.
In addition the job title on your business card, you need to add the title of Disruptor.
Disruptors challenge assumptions. They shake the status quo. They are curious and creative. They adapt and improvise. Disruptors push the boundaries and shatter conventional wisdom. They'd rather forge new ground than blindly salute the flag of the past.
Disruptors squirm at phrases such as "we've always done it that way", "that's just the way things are done here", and "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". They know that speed and innovation now trump rigidity and conformity. They know that discovering fresh solutions and unleashing new ideas are top priority for both success and sustainability.
Disruptors wonder. They dream, explore, harass, discover, challenge, vex, disturb, rattle, break, upset, imagine, push, shatter, drive, offend, risk, and poke. Disruptors also win, get promoted, earn more, make a bigger impact, reach their dreams and change the world.
In the words of Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, "If the rate of change on the outside is greater than the rate of change on the inside, the end is near."
The next time you're at an event and someone asks you what you do, try responding with: "I'm a disruptor." Besides better conversation, it will empower you to drive change and make a difference. Stop hoping and start pushing. Stop complaining and start doing. Your company and your career depend on it.
Disrupt or be disrupted. Simple as that.