Personal disruptions

The book Empathy Exams references another book called Morphology of the Folktale written by Vladimir Propp. That book is a thorough breakdown of storytelling, “a catalog of plot pieces arranged into thirty-one functions,” and these plot points are classified into various headings like “trickery, guidance, and rescue” which “mark moments where the action takes a different direction.”

The author of Empathy Exams, Leslie Jamison, summarizes it as such:

Essentially, he is making a claim about disruptions.
He says everything proceeds from losing our place.

I love that: disruption defined as “losing our place.”

The usage of the word “disrupt” is not new in technology. In fact, it is so not new that it’s become a buzzword, an overused buzzword that occasionally mocks itself. Everything is disruption! We’re disrupting [fill in the blank of an old world technology, industry, feeling, thought, process] etc.

I want to talk about disruption as a personal thing.

I think you would be hard pressed to find someone who:

  • Has always felt perfectly secure in their career
  • Has little to no doubts about the future success curve of their career
  • Has never hesitated on making a decision at work
  • Has never regretted a decision that was made at work
  • Knows exactly what to do at all times when it relates to their work and work relationships

If you do, introduce them — not to me, but to a licensed psychotherapist. Complete agreement with the above bullet points can possibly be considered a sign of something clinical that ought to be addressed.

You see, we all have hesitations. We all make decisions that sometimes we regret; or we fail to make decisions because we don’t like the potential results or consequences. We get upset at coworkers; they get upset with us. We wonder if we chose the right job or career path.

We wonder if we have missed out on opportunities.

The difference between wondering (so close to the word wandering as if idly passing an afternoon away in a field) and being spurred/forced to take action (a disruption) is the difference between saying “I could have done this” and “I will try to do this.”

Personal disruptions, especially if they are involuntary (being laid off, a life change which requires a location change, an accident, the birth of a child, chronic disease, the loss of a sibling, parent, or spouse), can cause us, can force us to step over that crack in the road of “I could have” to “I will.”

From “I would like” to “I must.”

Personal disruptions, then, are a catalyst.

You see, we can lose our place – or as I would prefer to say, get pushed off our chosen or customary path – and from there, we can now take a different path. We have been woken up; we can look around us and see things for what they are; we can change.

Personal disruptions, therefore, are a catalyst for change.

It is nice to want to disrupt the world — it is a worthy goal and I am glad that old things are being shaken up. But, perhaps we should try to spend a little time disrupting ourselves.

Who knows? We could change. For the better.

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