The photo on the opposite page is fire. As well as possessing the qualities of warmth, magnetism and creativity, it represents “disruption”, which usually is regarded as bad behaviour, something destructive, or leading to chaos. And yet, the terms "disruptive innovation" and "disruptive leadership" are in the public discourse these days, indicating something quite positive. So what's going on here?
Let's look at the inner practice of disruption in Nothing Missing Leadership. When we become aware of habitual thought patterns, we have the choice to follow those thoughts wherever they may lead, or to disrupt their flow and come back to the creative groundlessness of the present moment. It is out of this vibrantly empty space that something wholly fresh can arise.
We should note here that disruption, as we use the term in this inner leadership practice, should not be confused with the path of disruptive innovation as articulated by Clayton Christensen and others (https://hbr.org/2015/12/what-is-disruptive-innovation)
As it is with thoughts, so it is with our habitual speech or activity; when we notice them, we can either continue on in the ways to which we have become habituated, or we can choose to disrupt those patterns and find fresh ways to speak or act that are more aligned with our best intentions.
In these ways, "disruption" is essential to our inner practice of leadership, which requires being present for what is really needed in order to fulfill our intentions and accomplish our goals. There are time-proven methods (e.g. mindfulness/awareness training) for gaining the skills to notice our distractive patterns and return to the present reality.
If that is how it is for individuals, what are the analogies for teams or organizations? In other words, when a leadership team has been distracted from its highest purpose, how does it recognize and acknowledge this and come back to the point of purpose? Individual leaders willing and able to interrupt their own habitual patterns are the ones best equipped to see when
the whole team is getting into the weeds. So, again, we see the interdependence of inner work and outer work.
Creative disruption, essential for launching an enterprise onto a new wave of growth, is facilitated by leaders who can think counter-culturally — leaders who understand the importance of innovations that change the "water on the beans" for an entire field of human endeavour. Genuine creativity, which often lives in a somewhat chaotic
environment, depends on not being caught by habitual fixation (e.g. on increasing efficiency and short-term profit).
"Disruptive leadership" is a term often used to denote the kind of leadership required in an enterprise at the point when creative disruption is most needed, which is most of the time in most organizations these days.
So, by this logic, training in mindfulness/awareness, or other effective inner practices, is the best preparation for leading an enterprise during times of rapidly changing conditions: socially, economically, environmentally or culturally. The simple reason is that a person
having the skills of a mindful leader has what it takes to lead an enterprise in exciting new waves of growth, which often follow from creative disruption.
Fortunately, being a mindful leader is simple. Humans are naturally whole, healthy, relaxed, wakeful, and kind. Unfortunately, because of long-standing patterns of considering our own comfort and security as more important than that of others, we do not show up in our natural way of being. To do so requires training, and that training is disruptive of anything that distracts us from being who we really are.
Ultimately, creative disruption is recognizing and appreciating our patterns and allowing them to expand and dissolve into the vastness and breeziness of their natural home, which is free from labels, judgments and rationalizations. Unfettered mind, liberated from contrivance, is freshness itself; it opens the floodgates to creativity and innovation. This is the importance of the inner practice of disruption.