This podcast is one of conversations with Subtle Disruptors, for those who are, or aspire to be, Subtle Disruptors. Before I begin these conversation I wanted to explain my thoughts on what a Subtle Disruptor is, and how one can move themselves in the direction of becoming one.
A Subtle Disruptor is somebody who is doing something purposeful and meaningful in the world, in a way that is under the radar. They are having an influence, but their influence is probably not a loud influence. Rather it is clever and quiet and self-assured. It is these people whom I want to meet; whom I want to promote through this podcast; and whom I want to encourage through making available these stories.
I am on my own journey of becoming a Subtle Disruptor, and in this episode I share my own thoughts on how to move in the direction of subtle disruption.
Step 1: Learn to listen to yourself.
The first step in becoming a Subtle Disruptor is to remove the things we use to distract ourselves from what we are feeling in our bodies, and from the hunches that we have about ourselves. It is about stopping and listening to that voice deep inside us. I think we can all uncover who we are and what we need and what we want, if we are willing to stop for long enough to allow the noise to drop away.
For me, learning to listen to myself meant to still myself by starting a meditate practise, and to give myself the headspace to think of new possibilities by resigning from my job.
Step 2: Find others who will accept you as you are.
The second part of giving that voice inside you some space to grow is to find a group of people who will allow you to talk and speak and experiment as you start to play with what you want and need.
I found this in a group called The Good Life project, people who allowed me to thrash and deprogram without judging me and without rushing me. They saw me, they allowed themselves to be seen, and in turn this allowed me to finally start to see myself.
Step 3: Build your own courage to follow your internal voice.
Stopping to listen and finding a supportive group is important; the next step is where we begin to act upon what we have started to hear within ourselves. The action that we take does not need to be massive or difficult. In can be a small step to begin with, something like writing a blog for yourself; talking with a person we respect; meditating each morning for 10 mins; expressing an idea we have been nurturing with somebody we trust.
My first small steps were to ask for a leave of absence from my job, to start listening to guided meditations each night as I fell asleep, and to talk more openly with my closest friends about what I wanted and what I felt.
Step 4: Start where you are right now.
Where does your curiosity lie? What is something you enjoy thinking about, that feels like an indulgent pleasure to ponder?
I began to realise that I enjoyed thinking about breath mints and new ways of selling them; about creating an awesome place to work; and about have conversations with people who were doing work that fascinated and inspired me. I started to play with these ideas, at first in my head, and then with a small group of trusted friends. I Googled; I visited places that I though were associated with these ideas, and I allowed the ideas to lead me where they needed to go.
Pick one of the things you are curious about and start to experiment with it. Talk to people about it. Go for long walks and ponder it. Scribble on butcher’s paper. In whatever way that feels right, start to explore and nurture the idea. It is most likely that what you start playing with is not going to be what you end up doing. What is important is the process of starting, of being curious, and then following the trail of curiosities that leads from that starting place.
Step 5: Take care of yourself.
Sleep. Eat. Meditate. Create authentic connections with a tribe of like-valued people.
It took me quite a while to find my tribe, so while I was looking for them I focused on taking very good care of myself: learning about my own sleep patterns and being comfortable with needing at least 8 hours of sleep per night; becoming aware of the food that gave me sustained energy; and developing a practise of meditation. But there were a lot of lonely nights where I wondered if there was a group of people I could connect with in my own city.
I eventually found them by attending a couple of events I somehow heard about, which cascaded into a stream of events happening within my city.
Step 6: But what if it takes too long?
If it took 10 years instead of 1 year to reach a place where you were working on something that was aligned with who you are, that was having a positive impact on those around you, would you be disappointed?
Partway through my own journey, it does seem to be taking longer than I would have liked to be at the place I feel I am moving towards. When I eventually reach there, I don’t think I will be disappointed with how long it took to get there. I think I will be grateful that I got there at all.
These are my thoughts on how to start positively disrupting your own life, of those around you, and of the culture within which you live. All in a way that is aligned with your own internal nature, and the nature of the world around us.
I hope you enjoy listening to my conversations with those who are also on this journey, and hearing their thoughts on their own subtle disruption.