Creating Disruption

Are you Looking in the Box?

Written by Hank Martin in Culture, Personal Development

Learning to Create Disruption

If your life, your job, your relationship was perfect you would be bored. But, just because something is not perfect does not mean we should not continue working towards perfection. I sat contemplating this the other day as I thought about business. Businesses are systems. In fact, everything is a system, including your life. We like systems to run the same way every day, and willingly accept flawed system out of fear. Too afraid of creating chaos and then possessing the ability to control it we shun opportunities for improvement.

Think of the intricate system beneath the hood of your car, for example. If one component is not running correctly the whole system fails. When the system fails your good day turns in to a frustrating day of dealing with a broken vehicle. Concerning a vehicle, you might handle the potential for a breakdown in a few ways. You might be at a point in life where you just turn up your music a bit louder, so that if anything starts to go wrong, you cannot hear it, and therefore do not have to spend the money you do not have on fixing your vehicle. Or, you might perform regular maintenance at the prescribed intervals so that you can prevent any possible problem.

In the first instance, we ignore the possibilities of change and pretend that things will always remain the same. In the other instance, we develop a fear of change and put in effort to ensure things remain exactly as they have always remained. These are the two worst methods to follow if you desire to create any impact on others or the world. We shun disruption and change in systems, believing those two things are synonymous with bad things. But, chaos is good and travel helped me embrace this idea.

Travel Creates Chaos

Travel is discomfort. When traveling, your goal is finding new and exciting things. You are not seeking out what you have seen before. You are not trying to replicate an experience or another place in a different part of the world. By leaving yourself open to what a place can offer you accept the differences between worlds, not similarities. Each place teaches us something, about ourselves, our emotions, or humanity.

Those who travel are agents of chaos. Their lives are disruption. Sometimes travelers fear the status quo so much they will do anything to avoid what others find as the framework of society. Other times, they take their desire for chaos and challenge processes. Like being on a train to somewhere, or hitching a ride down the road, challenging deeply ingrained ideas in business, society, and your life requires accepting the unknown path in front of you. Which leads us to ideas.

No good idea ever came from working within a framework. Innovation comes from working on the outskirts, pushing the boundaries just enough to make yourself and others uncomfortable, and trying to bring the marginal to center.

The Cat in the Box

In 1935 an Austrian physicist developed a thought experiment, which he called Schroedinger's cat. He put cat in a box with a vial of poison, a hammer, radioactive material, and a Geiger counter. If decay happened to the radioactive material, no matter how small, the Geiger counter triggered the hammer to break the vial of poison, which killed the cat.

The only way to know the fate of the cat, if the radioactive material decayed, was by looking in to the box. Look in the box and you have your answer. Your reality is now determined by the information you gathered, and the box you put yourself in. But, what happens if you do not look in the box? The cat is simultaneously alive and dead. Since you do not know the fate of the cat you have possibilities. Now, while he did use this experiment as a way to question certain premises in physics, we can use this same methodology for creating disruption.

Very often we look in the box. We want to see if the cat is dead or alive, and in doing this we limit our ability to create disruption. Whether looking in the box equates to presenting or researching from only a certain point of view, using a specific outcome as the starting point for something else, or failing to question the most basic premises of a situation or commonly accepted belief, we work within an information bias that stunts change.

But, what if you did not look? What if you decided to avoid assumptions or preconceived ideas when entering any situation? This represents a great challenge for creatures such as us; however, I wonder if we would be better off by accepting a bit less and instead believing more in possibilities. When we do not look in the box, or accept certain premises about our lives and society, our minds can accept possibilities and resist the urge to accept current reality. No one achieves anything large and seemingly impossible by accepting current reality. Landing on the moon, electricity, or 3-D printers. All of these things were impossible until someone held the belief that these things could concurrently exist and not exist. So what is your shtick? What do you believe in that others think is impossible, and how will you use your fearless potential to change the world?


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