Learning to Fly: The Ruffled Feathers of Re-booting

Approximately speaking, the business term “disruptive innovation” refers to “An innovation that creates a new market by applying a different set of values, which ultimately (and unexpectedly) overtakes an existing market,” such as Uber or e-cigarettes. These advances or evolutions improve a product or service in ways that the market does not expect, and thus can change a market entirely. Email superseded snail mail; digital photography replaced chemically developed film—things like that.


Likewise, evolutions in our personal understanding about ourselves or our circumstances can play a similar role: it creates a disruptive force in how we live our lives going forward. A new perspective can both improve and threaten what has previously existed—think of bringing a new baby home or breaking up, going back to work or school, having our business collapse or suffering a crisis—each of these developments (and others) necessitate a reevaluation of the status quo.


For Re-booters, thinking of the change in yourself as a disruptive market force—presuming that this change is an actual positive development for you—let’s consider the impact on your “market,” aka those with whom you live. From their perspective, they may not greet this development with a ticker-tape parade. They may not embrace this shift with the wild enthusiasm of the cotton candy-watermelon-bubble gum flavored vaping crowd. No, in fact, your bunch may not support this disruptive technology business at all.


So, what do you do then? What do you do when you have irreversibly changed but your market doesn’t like it? They ain’t buyin’ your new wares—it doesn’t matter that you are presenting a new and improved persona. They want to keep things the way they were.


Such conundrums call to mind “my way or the highway” scenarios which can careen harrowingly close to bullying in my book. Having been subject to more than one person who regularly employed such tactics, I am loathe to ever go that route, but recognize that sometimes ultimatums (if you’re serious about following through) can have their place in our toolbox of negotiating strategies. But most of the time, a far more successful approach is to introduce the changes slowly, so the market can adapt without feeling blindsided.


A small example from my life opened the door to a significantly enhanced sense of independence and set the stage for me to risk even bigger changes later on. Many years ago, I decided that I would start observing Christmas Eve alone. Now, some of you may think this sounds tragic, but I saw it as a refuge from family dynamics that were driving me mad. Exiting stage left on such an image laden holiday is not for the feint of heart, I assure you. But, for me, the choice of enduring yet another alcohol laden snark fest was something I couldn’t bear. When I made this decision, I had a whole lot of mixed feelings: was I abandoning certain, treasured family members for my own selfish purposes? Would Christmas Eve alone signal a short step to a life lived with 27 cats? Couldn’t I just suck it up? No, I could not. So, I stuck to my guns and withstood their disappointment. Ah, tranquility! The afternoon of the 24th, I bought a nice bottle of wine, had a fire brightly burning away while my little tree twinkled and had one of the very best Christmas Eves of my life. I don’t know how glum things were back at the ranch, but it doesn’t matter, because that’s their responsibility and not mine. After that, I never looked back. This, my friends, is an example of disruptive innovation.


I recognize that what we do on holidays is a fairly minor matter in the greater scheme of things, but you’ve got to walk before you run, right? In certain families, opting to live a car-free existence or developing a love for country music (including memorizing the words to “Havin’ a Beer with Jesus”) would be considered disruptive. Tremendously disturbing to all involved—best not to discuss—I mean what might come next could be terrifying: like voting Republican or announcing that crocs are acceptable footwear. Shudder. Talk about a market upset!


But, the bottom line is, you’ve evolved and aren’t going back to who you were before. And while you needn’t be obnoxious about this new and improved you, it’s good to embrace these changes and be confident—reminding yourself that any ruffled feathers eventually settle back down. Your example may even give them a necessary measure of courage to spread their wings.



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