My Path to Disruption


There is so much talk about disruption these days. It seems like everyone wants to be a disruptor! It’s funny how the world’s view of disruption has changed so dramatically over the years.

When I was a kid, disruption was something that society wanted nothing to do with. It was ominous and almost violent in nature. That’s also because our childhood was a time where being uncomfortable was to be avoided at all costs. We didn’t talk about feelings and we certainly didn’t talk about vulnerabilities.

Today, being disruptive is a powerful badge of honor in the business world. It is about being bold, being original and making a big impact on your world. While the association of disruption has evolved, the path to achieving it has not. To be disruptive you must first get way out of your comfort zone. And the more uncomfortable the situation, the more disruptive the results can be.

I was fortunate to realize years ago that putting myself in uncomfortable situations – hopefully never life threatening – reaped some very rewarding outcomes. Those outcomes led me to developing a methodology for harnessing my discomfort through curiosity. By approaching a challenge with authentic curiosity you will be forced to ask questions – and the answers to those questions are always eye opening.

For over 30 years I’ve been having “curiosity conversations,” not only with colleagues, but with individuals I viewed as disruptors in their given fields. During that time, I’ve sat with spies, royals, Nobel Prize winners, gangsters, moguls and politicians, and wow have I ever experienced some very uncomfortable moments. As I look back, the most uncomfortable of moments may have been my first meeting with Eminem.

As always, I had no agenda for the meeting other than wanting to get a better idea of what Mr. Mathers’ world was like. From the moment we sat down, I knew this was going to be a challenge.

Over 30 minutes and not a word. He just sat there, mad-dogging me with a piercing glare. The longer the silence the more uncomfortable and intimidated I became. And when I get nervous I tend to just blurt things out. This time all I could muster was “can you animate?!”

Well, the answer is yes. Eminem certainly can animate, and for some reason my anxious outburst unlocked one of the most memorable conversations of my life – and inspired a movie in “Eight Mile” that I’m very proud of. Beyond the success of the film or its place in pop culture, I love that Eminem was able to disrupt his personal comfort zone by taking on the challenge. Not only did he remind the world why he’s such a special talent, he became the first ever hip-hop artist to win an Oscar.

It’s incredible to think about how the raw discomfort of that moment led to something so meaningful, and ultimately a movie that was very disruptive. I’ve learned so much from moments like those and believe we can all channel uncomfortable situations into disruptive forces.

When you’re uncomfortable you have no choice but to view a challenging situation from a different perspective. That new POV fuels your curiosity and your ability to tap into your own creativity, which gives you a commanding sense of confidence.

Many of us face challenges, big and small, in our professional lives that can benefit from this approach. Whether you’re meeting with Eminem or a team member who disagrees with your strategy, using curiosity to gain a broader understanding of the playing field is invaluable and will undoubtedly have a disruptive impact.

Now is the time to embrace all those awkward moments and uncomfortable situations in your life! In fact, it’s time you put yourself in those moments on purpose. Trust me, the lessons I learned from exploring the unknown are far more valuable than ones I gleaned from maintaining the status quo.

– Brian Grazer

For more on using curiosity as a personal superpower — in Hollywood, at work, and in your own life — read Brian Grazer’s new New York Times bestseller, A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life, co-authored with journalist Charles Fishman. 

Brian Grazer is the Oscar-winning producer of such movies and TV shows as A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13, 8 Mile, Arrested Development, and Empire.

Este artículo fue escrito originalmente por Brian Grazer

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