By Jim Whitt, Contributing Editor

In  2016, who would have guessed that a real estate developer and star of a reality TV show would have any chance of becoming president of the United States? Donald Trump did it by disrupting the political process. He did the opposite of what the political establishment preaches and completely wrecked their playhouse. Then the opposition got in on the party when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, popularly known as AOC, got elected to congress by openly promoting socialist initiatives. Now, several Democrats running for president are borrowing a page from AOC’s playbook. It’s turning into a game of who can be the biggest socialist, and the winner may be the party’s candidate. If that happens, some serious disruption will take shape in the general election.

According to Meriam-Webster, the word disruption means “a break or interruption in the normal course or continuation of some activity, process, etc.” Disruption is not a bad thing. I agree with Frank Zappa who said, “Without deviation, progress is not possible.” As a founding member of the Mothers of Invention, Zappa was a major disrupter in the 1960s music scene.

It’s not just happening in politics; we are living in an age of disruption. Of course, the world has always been in a state of disruption, but it’s now happening at warp speed. It’s affecting every industry and field of endeavor. It’s not a question of whether your world is going to be disrupted, it’s a matter of choosing to be the disrupter or the disrupted. If you choose not to be a disrupter, you will be playing catch up in a game where you probably won’t catch up. But if you choose to be a disrupter, be prepared – you will be attacked by the disrupted.

I read an article in Golf World that I think offers some insight for those who dare to disrupt. The author, Guy Yocom, interviewed golf phenom Matthew Wolff, who has become the Frank Zappa of professional golf. Wolff was an All-American at Oklahoma State University where he won a ton of tournaments and helped his team win a national championship in 2018.  He won the individual national championship in 2019, then turned pro. Two months, later he won his first professional tournament. Unlike the cookie-cutter swings of most tour professionals, Wolff’s swing is radically different. It is truly disruptive.

When he was learning the game as a youngster, traditional golf instructors wanted to change Wolff’s swing to conform to the norm. But instead of overhauling his unorthodox swing, swing coach George Gankas encouraged Wolff to “be a lone wolf, not a follower.” In his interview with Yocom, Wolff shared some of what he’s learned working with Gankas:

  • How your swing looks is irrelevant. It’s what happens with the golf ball that matters.
  • Accept all outcomes and never be embarrassed.
  • If you fear a certain kind of miss, your subconscious will take over, and you’ll miss that way anyway. So, don’t fear it.
  • Don’t set goals. Instead, do things with your game that lead to fantastic things.
  • Listen to the good stuff and shut out the bad. It’s just noise. Winning is winning, regardless of the stage you’re on.

I thought I’d rework those statements into a disrupter’s creed that could be applied to any field of endeavor:

  • Other’s opinions of what you’re doing are irrelevant.
  • Accept all outcomes and never be embarrassed.
  • If you fear a negative outcome, your subconscious will take over and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. So, don’t fear it.
  • Instead of focusing on a result, focus on processes that lead to fantastic results.
  • Listen to the good stuff and shut out the bad.

I’m in the disruption business. As a consultant, I only want to work with clients who are willing to be disrupters – those willing to choose the road less traveled, because that’s the road to the future. But it is not for the faint of heart. The disrupted will always be in your ear, telling you that you’re going the wrong way – that you took the wrong road. If you choose to be a disrupter, there will be times when you’ll be tempted to return to the road most traveled. That’s when you need to read the disrupter’s creed. And remember, “Without deviation progress is not possible.”