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Last week, I was in New York for the National Retail Federation Conference – the largest gathering in the world of the top retailers, and one of the keynotes was helmed by the CEO of Target, Brian Cornell.  Mr. Cornell is responsible for helping Target acquire 20 brands in the last two years including the beloved Magnolia Home from HGTV stars Chip and Joanna Gaines.  Under his leadership, the company is posting record sales and adapting to the changing landscape of retail.

One thing that Brian Cornell stated, as a key to leadership, is that we must disrupt ourselves.  That one statement has stayed with me for the past week as I contemplate what it takes for individuals and companies to be truly successful.

In Silicon Valley, disruption is considered a positive and listed as one of the key elements of a successful CEO or President.  People such as Tony Hseih who founded Zappos and said, ‘we will offer free shipping and free returns,’ transformed retail and changed consumer expectations.  Zappos was later sold to Amazon for, what was then, a startling billion dollars.

Reid Hastings co-founded Netflix, a company which we now use as a verb – think ‘Netflix and chill.’  At the time, critics called the disruptive Hastings, a flash in the pan and proclaimed that no one would want to stop renting movies at their local video store.  Where are those critics now?

Back in the days of her afternoon syndicated talk show, Oprah Winfrey was considered a disruptor when she announced her book club.  People said that literature was dead.  Oprah disrupted that notion as legions of people started re-reading classics like Jane Austin and a simple ‘Oprah’s Book Club’ stamp meant instant success for the author.

History provides us with many examples of disruptors whose names are synonymous for defying convention – Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, and more recently, Jen Welter, the first female coach in the male dominated, NFL.

Disruption is healthy.  Disruption is essential.  Disruption takes us out of our much-maligned comfort zone where there is truly no comfort. 

In my own life, I continue to disrupt myself.   When I feel comfort sneaking in, I know that complacency is just around the corner.  Whether it is doing a half marathon or a marathon, working on a Boston qualifying time, writing a new book, fasting, or taking on a project in a new field, I enjoy disrupting myself so that I can continually grow and stretch.

There are seven key steps to becoming a disruptor and I wanted to share these with you if you are sick and tired of complacency.  I have found that when we are stuck in one area, disrupting another area has a spillover effect and all aspects of our life begin to positively head on a new trajectory.

Here are the 7 key steps to becoming a disruptor:

  1. Get Uncomfortable Physically – enter a marathon, sign-up for krav maga, enter a fitness competition – do something that is going to challenge your body.  We can become complacent in our workouts and good, healthy competition, especially with ourselves is a key element of disruption.  Tony Robbins takes ice baths for 5 minutes every morning to challenge his physical body.  I enter races to keep myself from getting too comfortable.  Disruptors know that physical challenge helps to prepare for all challenge.
  2. Get Uncomfortable With Your Diet – try intermittent fasting, keto, drinking a gallon of water every day, going vegan for a month – do something that gets you out of your nutrition comfort zone.  Recently, I started a light version of keto – no more than 50 net grams of carbs per day.  I dropped 6 pounds, body inflammation is down, and my energy is up.  Change up your diet so your body doesn’t adapt to your current regime.
  3. Get Uncomfortable Emotionally – make a list of everything you have conquered.  Deep down, you are a badass and more than likely you do not give yourself enough credit.  Last week, I was on the plane and I made a list of everything I have triumphed over.  I then make a list of everything I have accomplished (see below).  I got off that plane feeling strong and empowered.
  4. Get Uncomfortable Mentally – sign-up for a course in something you do not know.  Try learning to code in python or Mandarin or whatever your heart desires.  Our brain is like a muscle, if we don’t work it, it will atrophy.  Right now, I am in a year-long course on options trading.  It is uncomfortable and challenging – just the way I like it!
  5. Get Into an Uncomfortable Environment – there is no better ice water in your face wake-up than immersion.  Volunteer for your church’s mission trip to a developing country, serve at your local homeless shelter, or better yet – go out on the street with a group and handout blankets to people sleeping on subway grates when it is minus 40 degrees Celsius.  Personally, I have always achieved the most after a trip to Cambodia or Africa.  Rescuing kids from trafficking has a way of doing that.
  6. Get Uncomfortable With a Goal – there are 3 types of people – those that set no goals, those that set goals that are too big or too small deliberately, and those that set goals that inspire them to act.  I love what Grant Cardone says about really good goals – they are going to take you ten times longer and ten times the effort however they are going to be worth it.  Set a goal that literally makes you sweat but inspires you to want to act.  Create a vision board.  Let people know.  Schedule time to pursue it.  Disruptors have no problem setting goals that make them uncomfortable.
  7. Get Uncomfortable With People – disruptors do not pay much attention to their critics.  They fully understand that not everyone is going to sing lullabies to them and that many people will gladly watch them fail.  The people in your life who do not support your new course of action, are people you should not be comfortable being around.  Disruptors can still love people however that love often comes from a distance.

As promised – here is my authentic, all-in, have no issue with being transparent, photo of what I wrote in my journal.

Here is what is on my heart to share – we are so much more than how we live our lives.  The disruptors are people who make a massive difference, face the critics, and ultimately can positively change many lives.  I invite you to be a disruptor whether it is doing things differently at your church fundraiser or building a company that employs thousands of people or starting a charity that cleans up the oceans.  Life is too short to play small.  Go for it and know that you truly are remarkable.


Are You Truly Ready to Get Uncomfortable and Amplify Your Skills?

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Susan Sly

Author Susan Sly

Susan Sly is considered a thought leader in AI, award winning entrepreneur, keynote speaker, best-selling author, and tech investor. Susan has been featured on CNN, CNBC, Fox, Lifetime, ABC Family, and quoted in Forbes Online, Marketwatch, Yahoo Finance, and more. She is the mother of four and has been working in human potential for over two decades.

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