By Erik J. Heels
First published 9/6/2016; YearOfDisruption.com; publisher: GiantPeople.
I was on the phone recently with one disruptor, talking about the project and the contributions I thought she could make.
Then she asked me, “What is the goal of the ‘Year of Disruption’ project?”
That’s a very good question. And this is a paraphrased version of my answer. I don’t necessarily have a specific goal for the ‘Year of Disruption’ project. I have a good idea about once per decade, and I’m pretty sure that this is one. I want to create a platform for sharing cool ideas and see where it goes.
In 1992, when I wrote my first book about how (and why) lawyers should use the Internet, I did it because it was cool. I did not have a goal. I just wanted to write a cool book and see what happened next. Turns out I wrote 7 editions of that book over 4 years and got to participate in the Internet 1.0 fun for 6+ years. Those experiences (plus one good exit) let me start my law firm, which was another one of my good ideas.
Looking further back, I did not attend MIT and major in electrical engineering to become an electrical engineer. I attended MIT because I thought it would be cool.
Similarly, I signed up for AFROTC to pay for college, and then I decided to try to become an Air Force pilot. Not because I wanted to be a pilot, but because I thought it would be cool. (Footnote: All of my pilot training classmates had wanted to be pilots all of their lives. When I didn’t make it through pilot training, I just moved on to the next thing. Query as to what happened to those who put all of their eggs in the “I’m going to be a pilot” basket.)
A recent article in one of my favorite blogs confirms that I am not alone in my thinking.
Jason Kottke writes about Jason Fried (founder of 37signals, which became Basecamp), who writes about not having goals (http://kottke.org/16/07/ive-never-had-a-goal):
I can’t remember having a goal. An actual goal.
There are things I’ve wanted to do, but if I didn’t do them I’d be fine with that too. There are targets that would have been nice to hit, but if I didn’t hit them I wouldn’t look back and say I missed them.
I don’t aim for things that way.
I do things, I try things, I build things, I want to make progress, I want to make things better for me, my company, my family, my neighborhood, etc. But I’ve never set a goal. It’s just not how I approach things.
A goal is something that goes away when you hit it. Once you’ve reached it, it’s gone. You could always set another one, but I just don’t function in steps like that.
So I can relate to that. It’s not that I’m NOT goal-oriented, just that goals themselves are not what drives me.
The first 15 years of running my law firm were really cool. I want the next 15 years to be even more cool. And I’m pretty sure that disruption will be part of the future, as it has been part of the past. I’m also fairly certain that I don’t have all of the answers, nor do I necessarily even know all of the questions! But knowing what you don’t know is a good thing, I’m pretty sure.