Many people have been suffering this year, not because they’ve been sick with the coronavirus, but because of their perception that the pandemic — combined with the rest of the events of 2020 — has “interrupted” “normal” life.
We have a communal longing to “get back to normal,” or, if we’ve accepted that we’re not going back to normal — that going back to normal isn’t even an option — then we’re waiting to get to the other side of this — to the “new normal.” Whatever that means.
Something I’ve been contemplating lately in the middle of the night:
What if this is the “other side”?
And by “this” I mean the way things are today.
What if 2020 isn’t an interruption, but a disruption?
The mindset that this is an interruption is what is creating our suffering.
If this is an interruption, then on some level we’re waiting to get back to normal, to resume what we were doing before and the way in which we were doing it.
Think about when you used to work in an office. If someone popped their head in to ask you a quick question, that was an interruption. Once they left, you’d go right back to what you were doing. (Well, not right back, but that’s another topic.)
Back when people still watched broadcast TV, sometimes the network would interrupt the regularly-scheduled programming for a special news announcement or a one-night only event. After that, the regularly-scheduled programming would resume.
That’s how we think of an interruption.
When we get interrupted, we are waiting to resume life as it was before. And when life as it was doesn’t return, we find ourselves frustrated, anxious, and feeling displaced. That creates our suffering, because we are resisting life as it is.
On the other hand, if this is the other side — the way things are now is the way they will be, at least for the foreseeable future — then we need to shift or mindset and adapt our behaviors. That’s what happens when we get disrupted.
A disruption creates a shift. It requires us to adapt in some way.
If one person pops into your office during the day, that’s an interruption. If it starts happening multiple times a day, you might put a lock on the door, or find a place to work where nobody can bother you. You’ll shift how you work to account for the disruption.
When you know you can’t go back, you go forward. Maybe sideways for a while. The point is that you’ll try new ways of working.
Maybe you’ll find a way that is more effective than the way you were doing it before.
The Gift of Disruption
That’s the gift of disruption: it forces innovation.
Interruption creates stagnancy. Disruption causes movement.
You’ll never get the gift if you’re waiting to resume life as it was.
PS – Here’s an article about how one company is seizing on the disruption as an opportunity to innovate.