Disruptive Thinking (2023) is a guide to unlocking your potential and turning adversity into opportunity. By learning to understand and leverage disruption, you can kickstart your most profound personal and professional metamorphosis yet.
Introduction: Embrace disruption to overcome adversity.
Table of Contents
Picture this: You’re facing a challenge that feels like a towering wall separating you from your goals. You could retreat to seek familiar habits to dodge the issue. But you don’t. Instead, you lace up your boots and size up the wall, feeling uncomfortable yet excited. Why? Because you can see the potential for solutions instead of a dead end.
See what you just did there? You recognized disruption, the driving force behind true, transformative growth.
In this summary to T. D. Jakes’s Disruptive Thinking, we’ll look at disruption from a Christian perspective. According to Jakes, disruption is a divinely guided event that happens for two reasons. First, it summons the leader in us, and compels us to reassess and shift our individual situations. And second, it invites us to see differences between ourselves and others as opportunities for unity, collaboration, and innovation.
By the end of this summary, you’ll better understand why disruptions are especially relevant today – and know how to leverage disruptive people in your life, navigate the challenges posed by impactful changes, and manage other disruptors for happiness and success.
Real change starts with disruptive thinking
Disruptive thinking, or the ability to think outside of the box in the face of unexpected changes, is more relevant than ever today.
Consider these three scenarios: A hardworking rural man facing the harsh reality of dwindling job opportunities. A single mother stretching every penny to feed her family as her wages lose their purchasing power. A middle-class employee watching her rich employer ride around in private helicopters while she’s getting her health insurance slashed.
What do these situations have in common? Two words – wealth inequality. It’s a growing chasm that is the cause of frustration and distrust worldwide. According to the Economic Policy Institute, a typical CEO of an American company currently makes over 399 times more than their average worker.
But author T. D. Jakes suggests that God doesn’t let people go through more burden than they can bear – and the most divine way to overcome this single most pervasive issue that divides people is through disruptive thinking.
Disruptive thinking isn’t some fancy buzzword. In fact, it’s a lifeline for many. This mindset provides hope and encourages people to explore possibilities beyond their current circumstances. When you consider the gift of choice, you realize that being poor, for instance, doesn’t necessitate staying in hostile neighborhoods. Often, a change of environment can be the first step toward a better life – which people can only take when they dare to embrace their innate capability to think differently.
Geoffrey Canada is the perfect embodiment of disruptive thinking. Growing up in the South Bronx, he realized no superhero was coming to rescue him from his harsh surroundings. Instead of wallowing in despair, he committed to transforming the lives of urban kids, thereby shattering the prevailing mindset that little could be done to help them.
And that’s the beauty of disruptive thinking – it can empower you to transform your environment and life. You don’t have to experience poverty to recognize and leverage the power of disruptive thinking. In your own life, it can be as small as repainting your living room to as big as leaving a toxic relationship or shifting your career. What matters is that you’re willing to shake up any areas of stagnancy and seize change as immediately as you can picture it.
It’s worth noting that pursuing disruption isn’t at all about the pursuit of material comfort. The point is that everyone, including you, has a God-given right to live a good life. If you’re not there yet, you can change your circumstances – and real change starts with action.
Now, what happens when disruptive thinking extends beyond the individual level? We’ll soon find out in the next section.
Leverage unlikely alliances for success
Ever felt like you’re an army of one, trying to turn the tide all on your own? Well, you’re not alone. But here’s a disruptive thought: disruption isn’t a one-person show. It’s a team effort, involving unlikely alliances and diverse groups coming together.
Remember the story of Cyrus in the Bible? Isaiah, the prophet, foretold his rise to power and benevolence to the Jews 150 years before Cyrus was even born. This was a display of God’s sovereignty over nations, as he stated, “He is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please.”
Now, why are we talking about a Persian king in a conversation about disruption? Because the most disruptive part of this story isn’t just the prophecy – it’s Cyrus’s ability to form alliances and collaborations, subdue nations, and create an environment of benevolence and progress. And he did this without even acknowledging God, as Isaiah tells us.
That’s the core message here – disruption often requires alliances that seem unlikely and partnerships that go beyond what is conventional or expected. Just as Cyrus, who didn’t recognize God, was used as a vessel for change, disruptive partnerships can also come from unexpected places and have an impact that resonates throughout centuries.
These partnerships are all around us. Think about the major differences between you and your spouse, friends, and colleagues. We’re all unique, yet we coexist – embracing our differences and learning from each other. That’s the essence of alliance, right there!
Now, let’s apply this to a broader stage, like business. Imagine you’ve got this brilliant, game-changing business idea, but it’s beyond your ability to execute it single-handedly. What do you do? You seek out partnerships. You identify those who have strengths where you have weaknesses, put aside your ego, and collaborate.
Here’s another out-of-the-box idea for effective disruption: your company decides to hire ex-offenders, going against the norm. That’s not just an act of disruption, but also a collaborative effort – an alliance formed with a whole community backing up this shift.
Speaking of collaboration, have you noticed how disruptive thinking and brainstorming often go hand in hand? Whether at a family gathering, a church event, or a board meeting, they always require various people coming together to bring different perspectives to the table.
Of course, this isn’t to say that collaboration is all sunshine and rainbows – it isn’t! Working with others demands countless hours of meetings, reshuffling schedules and relationship structures, and developing new models of thinking and doing. Above all, it requires an unwavering commitment to the vision and the grit to confront and overcome obstacles.
So there you have it. Disruption isn’t a solitary hero’s game; it’s a collective effort to achieve equanimous success for all.
Four challenges around disruption
Making your mark as a disruptor is a journey, not a destination. To achieve lasting change in your life, you’ll need to overcome several challenges along the way: the ego, communication breakdowns, misunderstandings, and discomfort.
So first things first: How do you keep your ego in check?
The ego, otherwise known as our sense of self-importance, has an outsized influence on our actions. Often, it dampens our progress by insisting we have to be right – even when we aren’t. According to the psychological exploration of Elliot Aronson and Carol Tavris in their book Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me), our brain is fond of self-justification. But here’s the thing: the ego can’t survive in the face of disruption, because going through a disruptive event requires humility. You can’t hit the other side of disruption without a willingness to learn and make mistakes.
Alright, let’s shift gears to our next challenge: mastering effective communication. Picture yourself tasked with the responsibility of hiring a new team member. You know the drill: it’s not just about whether the person can do the job, but whether they can keep in step with the company’s heartbeat, moving and grooving with the rhythm of the room. And here’s the kicker: your job doesn’t stop the moment they’re hired. As a leader, you need to lay out the expectations as clearly as you’d lay out a road map. If you don’t, things will start to unravel. When expectations are fuzzy, frustration can creep in and stagnation can set in like quicksand. Miscommunication, or even a single unspoken assumption, can throw a wrench in the works of a disruptive initiative. In short, good communication is key if you want to keep things flowing.
Now, here’s the third challenge we face on the way to disruption: unmasking misunderstandings by seeing subtleties in every situation. Each role or circumstance has nuances that can offer you the insights you need to make savvy decisions. Whether you’re scouting for a church sponsor or seeking a deeper friendship, those nuances are key. Want another example? Think of your mentor at work. This person should be more than just someone you look up to. She should be your cheerleader, amplifying your potential at every step. It’s essential to evaluate people based on their unique skills and experiences, not just their titles or roles. And actions always speak louder than words, either spoken or written.
Last but not least, learn to expect and embrace discomfort. The road to disruption is rarely comfortable; this challenge is all about being ready to step into the wild unknown. How? Take new risks that give you the jitters – responsibly, of course. Open yourself up to tasks you’ve never done before. When in doubt, conjure the wise words of Reinhold Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer, which goes, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” Think of this statement as your secret weapon to help you withstand disruption, and keep marching toward the other side of it.
Now that you’re equipped to overcome the challenges of being a disruptor, it’s time to nip the ultimate challenge in the bud: managing other disruptors in your life.
When other people are the disrupters
In our lives, we all seek to be acknowledged for our unique capabilities and to be seen for who we truly are. Why else did Ralph Ellison write his novel Invisible Man, if not to speak volumes about the unbearable pain of invisibility?
So whether you’re a disrupter yourself or dealing with one, it’s important to understand that the process of growth, understanding, and empowerment is especially vital in three key areas: education, marriage, and parenthood.
Have you ever had teachers or mentors who saw an untapped talent or skill you couldn’t see yourself? These folks are like archeologists – constantly exploring, relentlessly digging until a treasure is found. They likely showed you that people placed in the right place and time can always develop disruptive thinking. Case in point? T. D. Jakes’s work with AT&T involved integrating ex-offenders from the Texas Offenders Reentry Initiative (TORI) program into corporate roles. The experience showed him that given the right learning opportunities, even the most disempowered can reclaim their lives.
But the impact of disruptive thinking isn’t limited to just the workplace. It extends to our personal lives – to our relationships.
Being married to a disrupter, for one, requires a certain level of understanding and patience. It’s about respecting each other’s differences and striving to find common ground. Trust and empathy play a massive role here. From economic trust to emotional safety, every aspect holds immense value. You need to understand your partner’s feelings and ensure they feel safe to open up and express them. No one wants to open up about their radical thoughts and ideas, only to be shot down – least of all by the person they’re supposedly most intimate with!
And then there are the unique challenges of parenting a disrupter. Understanding the “why” behind a child’s disruptive behavior is crucial before reaching for a solution. Often, it’s not about quick fixes or medication but about being attentive and getting to the root cause. A disruptive child reflects disruptions within the family. Active listening is crucial here; it’s the best way to give your children room to grow around disruption. Early on, teach them to understand that roadblocks are inevitable stepping stones on the path of growth. The truth is, you can’t always protect your children from the shock of disruption – but you can always offer unconditional support as they navigate life’s ups and downs.
By embracing disruption in these leadership roles, you can ultimately transform relationship obstacles into opportunities for growth and development.
Disruptive thinking is a great way to evolve – and evolve we must!
Every person, especially those in positions of leadership, has the power to harness disruption for growth. Adversity, arguably the most intense form of disruption, is not a barrier. As God would have it, it’s a gateway to self-discovery and profound transformation.
About the Author
T. D. Jakes
Personal Development, Management, Leadership, Career Success
The book is about how to think differently and challenge the status quo in order to create meaningful change in our lives and in the world. The authors, Nick Chiles and T. D. Jakes, are both award-winning writers and leaders who share their insights and experiences on how to cultivate a disruptive mindset and apply it to various domains, such as personal growth, leadership, creativity, and social justice.
The book is divided into four parts. The first part introduces the concept of disruptive thinking, which is the ability to question assumptions, break rules, and embrace uncertainty. The authors explain why disruptive thinking is essential for innovation and progress, especially in the digital age, where change is constant and unpredictable. They also discuss the challenges and risks of disruptive thinking, such as resistance, criticism, and failure.
The second part explores the four elements of disruptive thinking: curiosity, courage, collaboration, and conviction. The authors describe how each element can help us overcome our fears, biases, and limitations, and unleash our potential for change. They also provide practical tips and exercises to develop each element in ourselves and others.
The third part applies disruptive thinking to various aspects of our lives, such as personal development, relationships, health, spirituality, work, and money. The authors show how disruptive thinking can help us discover our purpose, passion, and gifts, and how we can use them to make a positive impact on the world. They also share inspiring stories of people who have used disruptive thinking to transform their lives and their fields.
The fourth part addresses the role of disruptive thinking in social change and justice. The authors argue that disruptive thinking is not only a personal skill but also a collective responsibility. They challenge us to use our disruptive thinking to confront the injustices and inequalities that plague our society, and to create solutions that are inclusive, equitable, and sustainable.
I found the book to be very inspiring and empowering. The authors combine scientific research with personal anecdotes to make the book engaging and relatable. They also provide useful tools and examples to help readers apply the concepts to their own situations. I learned a lot about how my thinking affects my actions and outcomes, and how I can improve it.
I think the book is relevant and timely for anyone who wants to learn more about disruptive thinking and how to use it for good. It helps us understand the benefits and drawbacks of disruptive thinking, and how we can balance it with other modes of thinking. It also reminds us of the importance of finding our voice, vision, and values, and using them to create change in ourselves and in the world.
I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about disruptive thinking and how to practice it. It is a well-written, well-researched, and well-presented book that will make you think differently about your thinking and your life.