(Thanks to my mentor Phil Olley for inspiring this insight)
Remember when you were at school and the teacher came into the classroom and told everyone to ‘settle down’?
Remember when your parents or some other adult, or even your peers suggested that you ’settle down’?
And you’ve probably told your kids at home to ‘settle down’ and maybe suggested to friends that they ‘settle down’ and get married.
But what does it mean – ‘settle down’?
Millenia ago billions of tiny sea creatures ‘settled down’ over time – what happened to them? They became the white cliffs of Dover and other chalk deposits worldwide.
In the same way tiny particles of solid matter ‘settled down’ and became all the other rocks that now form the lands we live on.
To settle down basically means to ‘stop’, to become ‘settled’ to cease activity, to stop, not instantly, but to slow down and ‘change state’ from being in motion and active, into being, for want of a better phrase, ‘set in stone’.
When you and I become ‘settled’, when we ‘settle down’, what that means is that we’re not progressing, we’re not moving forward, we’re not growing, we’ve ‘stopped’.
Which, although appropriate sometimes, and if so usually temporarily, is not necessarily a good idea.
To progress and to grow, you and I need to stay in motion, to stay active, not to ‘settle down’.
Now you and I know that, but most people don’t.
Most people seem to think that ‘settling down’ is a good idea, a good objective or goal, a good plan.
Settle down and stop having to worry about things.
Know ‘where you are’.
Be settled, be secure, be normal.
Like everyone else.
In his audio programme a long, long time ago (so long ago that it first came out on 78rpm shellac gramophone records – remember them?) Earl Nightingale in his programme ‘Lead the Field’ said that most people don’t follow leaders, they follow followers.
Most people follow the crowd – because in the crowd they find stability, they go with the flow, they get a sense of ‘belonging’.
That’s all very well but in fact what it does is it suppresses the need for people to think.
They don’t need to think about who they are – they’re one of the crowd.
They don’t need to think abut what they’re doing – they copy the others.
They don’t need to think about where they’re going – they go with the flow.
They’re beginning to settle on the sea bed, they’re beginning to turn to stone.
The thing is that humanity cannot afford to do that.
We are not destined to become just another layer of fossils in the rocks upon which some later creatures will tread.
We are destined for higher things.
So how do we get out of the mud we (most people) are being sucked into?
What causes people to take action and become ‘unsettled’?
It happens a lot, and most people don’t recognise it when it occurs.
Instead, they protest, they object, and they resist because it’s unsettling, it implies change and it might actually require them to think for themselves rather than following the crowd.
It makes them uncomfortable.
Disruption can be initiated by many things.
By the weather, by ‘accident’, but mainly by people.
Most politicians, innovators, writers and artists, and ‘leaders’ are disruptors.
Just think for a moment about who is disrupting, or potentially disrupting, ‘the crowd’ at this time.
Many will spring to mind.
Disruptors ask difficult questions, disruptors do things differently, disruptors think outside the box, disruptors promote new ideas, disruptors cause things to happen, and so on.
And like icebergs calving from an ice-shelf, new ‘crowds’ will form behind them, picking up on their ideas and actions.
And sometimes (as happened in mid-20th Century Germany) those new crowds will replace the old ones, ideas will change, ways of doing things will change, and ‘normal’ will change.
Disruption is extremely powerful, and the results are often unknown. Sometimes things get ‘worse’ but sometimes things get ‘better’ but the Disruptors are never really sure what exactly is going to happen other than that they know their actions will result in change.
And however you and I look at it, in the longer term, in the ‘grand scheme of things’, change is more often than not, a ‘good thing’.
Which means that you and I, if we want to see change (which we do), at any level, large or small, whether it’s just for ourselves or for society in general, need to disrupt.
We need to ‘shake things up’, ask ‘What would it take?’ questions, and maybe throw a spanner or two in the works.
Without change nothing grows, you and I will not grow, society will not grow, humanity will not evolve to the higher level for which it is intended.
The alternative is sedimentation, settling down, turning to stone, slowly but surely ceasing to be who we are and becoming a full stop in some future world’s history books.
What are you changing – what do you want to change?
You don’t need to know all the details of how to effect that change only how to disrupt the present status quo.
Be a Disruptor.
Make it so.