Does an idea have to be disruptive to be remarkable?  Said differently, does a new concept have to shake our conventional assumptions sufficiently to the point that we must comment?  Is disruption always progress?  

Apple released a new and enhanced line of products this week.  The reviews I read focus on how disruptive the new features and design are to the consumer’s current experience.  This form of disruption is deemed as positive.  Consumers were generally satisfied with the current model but now the new versions offers innovation worthy disrupting our habits and considering change.  

When I travel and the TSA changes a security screening procedure, disruption can be challenging.  I memorize the routine as a frequent flier.  I recognize that shoes are placed into a bin on the x-ray belt but suddenly they needed to be placed directly onto belt without a bin.  This form of disruption is unsettling.  Perhaps it leads to greater efficiency or more effective screening but it also can be frustrating.

Knowing what is and what is not worthy of disruption reinforces or erodes trust and loyalty.  Remarkable is not always great.  If you build a tribe of followers who share a core belief they will endure disruptions as long as it enhances the organization’s dreams.

The Difference Between Dreams and Goals

Something special in July

Swiss World Champion and current Tour de France yellow jersey wearer (awarded to the leader of the race after each stage), Fabian Cancellara responded to a question about his chances of winning the three-week stage race, “I’ve already said many times about the Tour that winning it is a dream and not a goal.  Those are two different things.  That’s why winning the Tour will always remain a dream for me.  I won’t work for a dream.  I have goals and there are some big classic races that I still want to win, and those goals are possible.’  It is essential to maintain clarity about one’s desired destination otherwise every intersection requires a pause or a full stop to evaluate the options and in the sport of cycling this would mean never winning a race.  

Do you have clarity about the outcome you have selected?  Are you focused and committed to reach it?  If not, then a few days in ta yellow jersey may offer a temptation to change the destination.  Exchanging the greater goal for immediate success and victory eliminates some unknowns and reduces fear of failure.  Why not take the champagne and flowers awarded to the winner?  This does not mean abandoning opportunities that present themselves in the course of pursuing the great goal.  Cancellara is going to defend the yellow jersey as best he can but he is realistic about the type of training and focus it would take to be a true contender in the Tour.  When the race reaches the mountains tomorrow there is good chance the maillot jaune will slip from his shoulders but it will have been in pursuit of something greater.

Are you pursing dreams or goals?

The Ember


A couple times each winter I cross paths with a woman at our local cross-country ski center.  I smile at her and sometimes offer a verbal greeting.  She never outwardly acknowledges my presence.  I assume that we have different agendas during out skiing time (that is the more positive rationalization I have told myself).  This weekend, we ran into each other at the trailhead on the final day of ski season.  With skis coming off and destine for the corner of the garage, she said, ‘knowing that I will see you out here every couple weeks keeps me motived.’  Trying to overcome the seismic paradigm shift challenging my entrenched belief about this woman, I muttered, ‘thank you, always good to see you out skiing.’  

This interaction reminded me of a talk given by the rector of a local Episcopal Church.  He spoke about the interconnectedness of a community of worshipers.  What motivates people to rise on Sunday morning and spend a portion of their day indoors in prayer?  A deep spiritual connection helps but he acknowledged that knowing other members of the church will be present to greet one another and notice our absence (not in judgement) builds a higher certainty of attendance.  By being present we increased the probability of others attending yet not always knowing who.

Some interactions are visible.  Students rise and have a high degree of certainty that their teacher will be in the classroom to greet them every morning.  Others are far more subtle.  What appears peripheral in our daily life may provide the most gentle of breezes that allows another person’s dream to continue to glow or even ignite into flame.  Who’s ember do you allow to glow?  Who keeps the glow of your dreams ready to ignite?  Actions that appears to be pedestrian in our own lives may be the point of ignition for someone we barely know.  Someone is counting on the vortex of your presence today.