In the absolute of pre-dawn darkness every morning for the last five years a CSX freight train has, despite the elevated track through the city where I live and the prohibition to do so, sounded its clarion. That I am now ‘conditioned’ to wake prior to this takes nothing away from the interference with my sleep. Disruption. It reads as a word either full of possibility or infused with dread (in the case of that damn train dread). If you are a business person the application of this word comes in tandem with consultants whose fees to help your company navigate digital disruption, disruptive innovation, and disruptive technologies are often equal to the GDP of small countries (more dread). I am not suggesting that SMEs and enterprises avoid embracing the innovation and resulting efficiencies which ensure continuity and growth but communications ‘people’ such as myself stand back in wonder each time a buzz phrase gains foothold and is uttered to intimidate or illicit awe and reverence. Folks, change is change, it’s inevitable and unavoidable. It really doesn’t matter what moniker is attached to it, but it is the management of that (impeding) change, understanding it and cascading it with clarity and thoroughness that is critical to thrive, survive or fail – in business, or in life. Now that I have that rant out of the way let’s address the scope of change and how to embrace it.
Change is, either, what remains after using paper currency to pay for something or what keeps us vital – I am focusing on the latter. We are, by nature, complacent. If our needs are fulfilled then the status quo (for most) is just fine. We use a thousand excuses to our friends and mates and those unexpressed personal denials for keeping things as they are. But when the illusion of satisfaction finally slips away it is with a resounding thud like construction boots being dropped on the floor. It is the teachings of Buddhist masters and the way they live with the impermanence of all things, the serenity which moves all that surrounds them that, for me, serves as the greatest catalyst for understanding and embracing change. These masters, upon retiring each evening, empty their cups and turn them upside down, extinguish their fires (including the embers) and if they are truly blessed face a quiet death in their sleep. We will all die – whether in five seconds, five minutes, five hours, five days, five months, five or fifty years. It’s left to us to embrace each day and discover the possibilities which abound in fostering positive change in our lives and the world around us. [I actually loathe the collective application of the expression “personal growth” – primarily because I don’t believe that many actually actively embrace disrupting their lives and because, I think, it’s awfully easy to stand on this platform and talk about it than it is to actually do something which fundamentally alters the way we ‘do’ and live. By screaming I am ‘aware’ so as to imply being ‘hip’ and ‘cool’ is the antithesis of growth – ah, hypocrisy – some future post will handle an accounting of personal growth.]
Creative types (of all kinds) embrace disruption. The recognition of and the possibility to improve something, anything, to solve a weighty problem or a thorny issue, is the creative minds’ driving force. Once, not so long ago, even communications and marketing efforts were formulaic. But on a daily basis the confluence of traditional methodologies with social media and Web 3.0 provide un-parallel opportunities to engage and expand constituent audiences that could not have been imagined even five years ago. As always it is the skilled use of language which determines resonance and amplification and I am thinking about this a bit more of late – both disruptive communications and building new audiences.
As a relatively new blogger (less than 3 months at the time of this writing) I am experiencing the adrenalin rush which accompanies the addition of each new countries’ flag and the shaded geographic boundaries on the map accompanying my ‘stats’. To date (and this is astonishing to me) I have readers in 27 countries (15 months later this figure has climbed to 117 countries) – without ‘really’ trying (it’s not my thing to leverage my skills for personal recognition much to the dismay of my friend #DearKen). The other influence on my psyche for thinking about change rests with the 835 individuals and 21 organizations whose efforts have been recognised by the Nobel Organisation. Each of those Nobel Laureates was driven forward by the illusive ‘something’, often for decades, which ultimately disrupted the status quo and fostered positive change for humanity. Of course these individuals and organisations didn’t start out vying for a Nobel Prize. I would like to think that their inspiration, their resulting success and the impact which all this eventually has on the rest of us is noticed but the truth is – it’s not. And that lack of awareness keeps the percentage of individuals striving toward creative and positive disruption far too small for the weighty issues facing humankind today. The fact that in searching through Twitter accounts I found that most of these incredibly inspiring individuals are as reclusive as Mary Stewart’s Merlin does nothing to improve the chance for their influencing the next generation. Shaking things up doesn’t have to be messy or costly, but it does require adapting to the real and the metaphoric shifting sands and melting glaciers of changing communications protocols surrounding us.
Gandhi’s words resonant: “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.”
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