Three Ways to Make Disruption Become An Inflection Point for Opportunity

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“Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!”

That iconic line, uttered by the robot from the 1960s science fiction show, “Lost in Space,” always signaled something lurking around the corner that was ready to harm young Will Robinson. Will, of course, along with the other members of his family, was, well...lost in space.

These days, we could all use that kind of artificial intelligence. It seems like danger, cloaked as disruption, is all around us. And you would be half right. Disruption is all around us. Disruption becomes dangerous when we are not prepared, when we lose perspective, and when we fail to progress. We neutralize the danger when we open our minds to the potential of the power of the pivot. When we change our perspective, disruption isn’t your enemy; it’s an opportunity. Here is where innovation can produce palpable progress.

By staying rooted in a calcified notion of what disruption looks like, you will be ill-prepared for it when it comes, and you may even not know it’s arrived.

Let’s take a look at three activities that can help you leverage disruption. These three non-negotiable gut-checks are useful now, during the current crisis. Yet, their beauty is in their enduring value. They are a prescription for personal and professional wellness in tough times, as well as the inevitable good times to follow.

Get Clarity―The Wisdom of Preparation

The wisest among us know that if we don’t use this current moment of disruption in our personal and professional lives for an honest assessment, we have squandered a golden opportunity. Self-reflection requires courage. We fear loss, or we fear the pain of change, or we fear that in the end, our efforts will not turn out as we planned. But great reward is never without some risk.

If something isn’t working for your business you prune it. Why continue using your energy on something that isn’t serving the highest possible purpose for you and your business? What are the opportunities that disruption is revealing? Clarification is scary. Find the courage to ask your squad for help. Level up your squad and ask them to help you get clarification. Great ideas are born from conversation, and service. Get clarity on what you want.

Make A Daily Appointment With Your Plan 

You’ve committed to getting clear about a plan for your future. You have developed goals supported by measurable objectives. A non-negotiable step for success is to review your plan daily. Give yourself the earliest possible opportunity to course-correct as the landscape morphs. Keep your eye on your goal. Define the five big moves to get to your goal and reverse-engineer the tasks required to realize them. Set a date! If your goal doesn’t have a date, it’s just a dream.

Having and maintaining clarity ensures you are moving in the right direction! Goals can change as we revisit our clarifying questions. Sometimes, when we learn new truths or experience a new disruption, our plans must adapt to the new reality.

Pivot With Purpose―Make Palpable Progress

The best athletes are nimble and work on their flexibility consistently. It’s how they achieve their athletic best. It is also how they avoid injury. The same is true for your organization. Whether it is a new competitor, a global pandemic, or technology advancements, disruption will come to you. The only unknown is when.

Organizations can stay nimble and ready to adapt to change by acknowledging new normals. Demographics are shifting in labor markets. The skills of today are definitely not the skills needed for tomorrow. The firms which are “early adopters” of these trends will have a competitive advantage over laggards in their industry.

People in organizations are always observing. They observe one another, and they observe their leaders. As a leader, how do you react when someone floats a new business idea by you? If you squash it out-of-hand, people will play follow-the-leader and do the very same thing to new ideas presented to them. Great leaders are great followers. They build their influence in their organizations by role-modeling the way. Be humble enough to accept ideas that are not your own.

Worse yet, how do you react when someone tries something new, to help you or the organization, and there is failure? Failure is the forge of excellence. Silicon Valley entrepreneurs have no "street cred" unless they’ve failed. Let failure be your teacher.

The Canary in the Coal Mine

Many years ago, miners would carry caged canaries with them down into mines. If there were a build-up of carbon monoxide, it would kill the canary first, thus alerting the miners to the danger before they were affected.

Disruption can happen overnight. Your canary might be dead when you wake up. You will gain control and optimize your potential by consistently: 

  1. Preparing with clarity
  2. Planning with perspective
  3. Progressing with a pivot

Seek clarity, review your plan daily, and have the humility to know when to pivot. This process will position you best to handle disruption, and help you keep your canaries chirping.

About the Colin and Erika Angle Center for Entrepreneurship at Endicott College

The Angle Center for Entrepreneurship’s initiatives are designed to give students and the greater regional communities the strategies, skills, and practical knowledge to create the future they envision for themselves. The Angle Center for Entrepreneurship’s director, Deirdre Sartorelli, Ph.D., has written two books on entrepreneurship. The first is for the U.S. State Department entitled "Startup Smart" and the second is for the International Business Innovation Association, "Launching Your Place-Based Entrepreneurship Center". She has also represented Endicott College at the United Nations' 2019 Solutions Summit as part of its General Assembly. To learn how to get involved, contact

About HigherARC and James Kawski

HigherARC applies a framework that was over 20 years in development and statistically and scientifically proven to be highly useful to bring leaders to their next level. This framework is known as High-Performance Coaching. To contact Jim, visit

*The opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Endicott College.