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Personal Disruption for a Better You


Disruption and design thinking shouldn’t be practices reserved solely for your startup. If you’ve been feeling the need to pivot in your personal life, here’s the good news: “we are all capable of reinvention,” and these principles could help.

Founder of the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University and author of ‘The Achievement Habit’ Dr Bernard Roth, quoted above, suggests applying the five steps of design thinking to your own problems. The first two steps, empathizing (i.e. observing what the real issues are) and defining the problem, are instrumental. For example, asking yourself “What would it do for me if I solved this problem?” can significantly reframe the challenge and your worldview, thereby expanding the number of possible solutions.

This is by no means saying that challenges are unwelcome and should be avoided. In fact, using the S-curve mental model, Whitney Johnson, author of ‘Disrupt Yourself: Putting the Power of Disruptive Innovation to Work,’ argues for the necessity of personal disruption and of routinely throwing your life a curve. “As our learning crests,” she cautions, “should we fail to jump to new curves, we may actually precipitate our decline.”

Thomas Koulopolous, President and Co-founder of Delphi Group, offers a practical guide to personal disruption in the form of a 30-day plan designed to mimic the uncertainty endemic to disruptive activity and to “get you so far out of (your comfort) zone that you have no choice but to see the world and yourself from an entirely different perspective.”

If this sounds extreme, programmer, writer and entrepreneur Derek Sivers would completely agree — with justification. “The best and most effective changes I’ve made in my life seemed crazy at first,” he writes, “because they seemed to be over-compensating.” This strategy of over-compensation, however, is required to make a lasting change, to balance out all that “cultural baggage, self-identity, habit, and history.” His conclusion: “You have to be extreme.”

Clearly, change isn’t easy. It probably shouldn’t be.