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Do Disruption and Innovation Go Hand in Hand?

Many of the worlds most innovative ideas have come after periods of disruption and tragedy. Are these requirements for the world to keep turning?

Sometimes, as twenty-somethings, we can look at our own Chapter One and compare them to these innovators’ Chapter 20 and think, “I’ll never get there.”

We imagine these business leaders’ lives and think, “They probably came from a rich family, went to college, got a good job, had a family, and worked pretty hard. They’ve got it made. They’re so lucky.”

But we so often forget the long journeys of these people, who overcome hard times to make it to where they are. When we see their successes every day, we forget they too are human and fail.

Many innovators started with failure, trouble, and letdown after letdown. In fact, those letdowns may have been what sparked their passion.

Sometimes I wonder if the power of innovation comes at its strongest when we have a disruption occur in our life. We lose our job, we experience family illness, we are suddenly assigned major responsibility; the life-altering scenarios are endless, and people are all affected differently.

Whatever the disruption is, it seems many are able to channel it into creating a better world for others with new ideas, new technologies, new businesses, and new communities.

When hardworking mothers are frustrated with their daily duties and just wish there were some gadgets that made cleaning up around the house easier, they invent toilet paper locks.

That’s what Tamara Monosoff did; she saw a need, disrupted by her growing family and pets, and she filled that need by thinking outside the box. She even wrote books on Mom inventors and entrepreneurs with a goal of inspiring others to come up with these innovative solutions.

Or what about Scott Edinger, whose story was told in Disrupt Yourself by Whitney Johnson, who used his rough childhood to channel and perfect his communication skills?

After growing up broke and living in a trailer park with a less-than-ideal family situation, Scott learned to survive by becoming an expert in conflict resolution and communication. He eventually honed his skills even more, was attune to others’ needs and enhanced his persuasion skills. As a current #2 ranked salesperson and CEO of his own company, I’d say Scott knew how to channel disruption into innovation.

Here are just a few more examples of entrepreneurs and innovators who overcame hardships and hurdles when they were young to create something better:

  • Walt Disney was fired from his job for not being creative enough
  • Oprah was told she was “unfit for television news”
  • Bill Gates first company failed–miserably
  • Arianna Huffington was rejected by 26 publishers, and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books were rejected “loads” of times
  • Steve Jobs dropped out of school, left his own company and dealt with cancer
  • And so. Many. More.

So this gets me thinking–do disruption and innovation go hand in hand?

When you are forced out of a job or forced to deal with something unpleasant, is it the motivation you need to create change? Are the disruptions happening in innovators’ lives what makes them successful?

While it’s never ideal to lose your job or go through a hard time with your family, sometimes it’s the thing that pushes us to our most creative problem-solving state. We are forced to think about our life turned upside down and many turn to finding ways to fix it. It’s an instinct to want to create solutions for the problems in life, no matter the size or shape of the disruption happening.

The trouble is, sometimes that disruption and inspiration doesn’t come at the right time in our lives. We are longing to try something new and exciting, but we lack the inspiration or motivation because we’re used to comfortable, stable lives.

I would NEVER wish hardships on anyone–especially not just to spark inspiration–but sometimes, when you’re ready to take a leap, you have to disrupt yourself.

Sometimes a good way to disrupt the industry is to disrupt your life.

While innovation and creativity comes and goes for everyone, sometimes you have to shake things up to get your wheels turning again.

When the routine becomes too repetitive or you find you are on the verge of becoming a full-time robot, disrupt.

Spark innovation. Learn from those who turn their hard times into making the world a better place.

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What do you think? Do disruption and innovation go hand in hand?

About the Author

Rachel Vick

Rachel is UW-Eau Claire graduate with a BA in Mass Communication and PR. She is currently working as an Associate at a PR firm in Minneapolis. Rachel loves adventures, DIY projects, hockey, reading and of course, wedding planning (saying "I Do" in September 2016!). She wants to continue working in PR, and hopefully someday found her own firm or business.