Have you noticed that dancing with disruption is not optional right now? Whoever you are, wherever you are, and whatever it is that you do, you have been impacted by the disruptive force of the global pandemic in some way. For some, it has been like learning how to do a quick foxtrot overnight and others a dramatic tango that has seen you doing an about-face in a way you never before imagined. Maybe you feel like you are spinning out of control, are tripping over your own feet or maybe you have ground to a halt, or even hit the floor, and are left wondering what the hell happened?

In my 53 years of doing life, I have realised that some of the biggest lessons and growth experiences come when we sit at the feet of pain, frustration and disappointment – it’s the same for both adults and for children. I wish it wasn’t this way but the path to enlightenment does seem to involve suffering and hardship to a greater or lesser degree. When things are going well we are under the illusion that we are in control. When they fall apart, we discover that there is no control, only acceptance. You can either choose what happens next or become a victim of what happens next.

Maybe the word suffering is really about the disruption of our carefully planned reality. When it is upended, especially without our permission, we suffer. Sometimes we choose to internally disrupt ourselves, on purpose – think of these scenarios: choosing to have a baby, divorce, changing jobs, moving town or country. The adjustment process we go through as we learn to live with our new chosen reality entails some suffering too, as we transition from one way of being to another, from one season to another – while we accommodate the change and newness, learning steps to a new dance. When the picture that we hold on to so tightly in our minds’ eye is broken, we are forever changed in the process. We have to learn to live without whatever, or whomever, it is we have lost or stepped away from. This is the dance with disruption and it opens us up to the field of new possibilities.

In his famous book, Man’s Search for Meaning, Victor Frankl says, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” It’s that space where we can choose a new and different response that some embrace with open arms, curious about what might be out there, while others try and avoid going there altogether. I like to say that somewhere between the collateral damage of a situation and the collateral beauty (the good, the opportunities and the possibilities), there is space for re-discovery and re-invention. This is how I choose to develop my own steps in my dance with disruption. Are you trying to pretend disruption isn’t happening, or are you looking it straight in the eye and walking into your fear?

Whether the global pandemic has brought you the loss of a loved one, a colleague, a job, a business, reduced cash flow, or loss of choice (this is a biggie that is unsettling everyone), your sense of reality has been challenged. This shifts the way you think and feel about everything. Trying to get back to the way things were is counterproductive because that reality is gone. “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves,” says Frankl. So, at the heart of disruption is the call to look inwards. This is the really important work of our lives and we often miss it. We would rather point a finger outwards at the world, blaming circumstances and other people, hoping and expecting them to change, than engage in the work required to shift our own perspective and go deeper within.

COVID is being referred to as The Great Reset. It’s an invitation to revisit what we choose and how we live our lives moving forward. I look at all disruption: from industries turned upside down to personal lives that are inside out, through the human lens of grief and loss. We go through cycles of grief and loss more often than we think. In every one of them, we always have a choice. I suggest, no matter how wounded, bruised, or broken you may be feeling, that you choose to dance with whatever disruption you are facing rather than resisting it or ignoring it.

Where there is change and uncertainty there is also possibility, newness and opportunity. Can you see it? Are you embracing it? Are you stretching yourself? I’m encouraging you to dance with disruption rather than resisting it so that you can move forward, grow and evolve. Even baby steps will do!

Takeaways for winning at work

  • Identify exactly why this disruption is making you feel uncomfortable.
    • By pinpointing your areas of discomfort you diffuse their power to keep you frozen in fear or stuck in the past.
    • Sometimes our fears seem bigger in our minds than they are in reality. As psychologists say, you have to name it to tame it.
  • Are you sticking to the safety zone of probabilities based on the past (yes, I can probably do that because I know it’s in my comfort zone) or are you prepared to take a step into the possibility zone where new things are possible?
    • This is a common trap because we want to stay in the comfort zone we know, or as close to it as possible.
  • Any change requires you to put in some effort. You have to do the work even if it feels hard.
  • Sometimes being thrown in the deep-end reveals strengths and skills we didn’t know we had and brings ideas to the surface that would never have seen the light of day.
  • How are you actively pushing yourself out of your comfort zone even if you don’t have to?
  • Have you considered finding a coach or therapist to assist you with the inner work required to deal with dirsruption?

Takeaways for winning at home and life

  • Sit quietly and identify the space between stimulus (the cause of a change or disruption in your life) and your response to it. This is where you get to take a breath, to feel it, think about it and then make a choice as to how you will respond versus immediately reacting.
  • Dis-ease or un-ease often manifests in your body. Have you noticed areas of tension or discomfort? If you are working with a coach or therapist this is important information to bring into the session.
  • If you haven’t yet used my Collateral Damage vs Collateral Beauty Exercise, I encourage you to use it for any disruption you may be facing.
    • It is something you do in the space before you respond.
    • It is brilliant for helping you to keep perspective between the positive and negative impact of a change in your life.
  • Don’t get caught in regrets – I wonder if I had done this or that etc.
    • You have to get out of your own way so that you can see the runway to the future, not the past.
    • You have to walk through the door and don’t look back.

“I loved this book! Nikki’s writing is as powerful as her spoken word. Her mixture of practical advice, coupled with personal experience, is applicable to everyone – even the busiest professional juggling disruption on multiple levels. This book is a must-read for anyone dealing with disruption or loss on any scale.”

Dharshni Padayachee, Inclusion, Diversity and Transformation Lead, Rand Merchant Bank CIB

Much love,
Nikki Bush
Human Potential and Parenting Expert helping you to win at work and life

Enjoy the podcast of the Azania Mosaka Show on 702, where we discussed this topic of disruption.