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Switching Off "Do Not Disturb"



Hello everyone,


Last week I was in Philadelphia for a conference.

(A lil' downtown snapshot pictured below.)

Philadelphia, PA

And I could probably spend the rest of this year writing about what I learned. I could talk about old neighborhoods, hotel lobbies, city hall, coffee shops in banks, talking with strangers, wrestling with difficult topics. And the list keeps going.


Here’s one implicit takeaway I want to look at:

“It’s important to be disturbable.” 

Yep, you read that right. Disturbable. (No, it's not in the dictionary if you look it up.) This Philly trip required I be disturbed – not traumatized, to be clear, or inappropriately exposed to anything for the sake of shock value. That's not what I'm talking about.


I mean disturbed as in (a few specific examples pending):

  • Riding an Amtrak train for the first time

  • Listening to an Uber driver vent their distress at politics

  • Navigating a new city

  • Experiencing a "modified" sleep schedule

  • Connecting with strangers at a conference


I suppose if I were to put it mathematically:




Before this trip, I was reflecting on how often we set our lives to “Do Not Disturb,” like our phones. 


Don’t disturb my schedule. 

Don’t disturb my relationships. 

Don’t disturb my understanding of how the world works. 

Don't disturb my feelings.


But there's a problem with this.

When we operate in chronic "Do Not Disturb" mode, we end up living in our own little world, where we don't let the world get in, except on our terms.

And we do the same with our ideas.


We start out looking for new information. We aim to be creative, innovative, and bold. We talk with other people to hash out what we're thinking. We are dedicated and determined. But over time, that determination and dedication can harden into boundaries that are no longer porous.


And before we know it, our own little world has transformed into a fortress, set to "Do Not Disturb."

And here’s my challenge:

How would you grow if you allowed not only yourself, but your idea, to be disturbed?


Disturbed by new information. Disturbed by conversations with people who want to see the idea succeed. Disturbed by feedback. 


As I said in the mathematical equation, being disturbable is really about being impactable. It’s the willingness to be changed. And our ideas need to be soft clay in our hands.


So let’s turn off “Do Not Disturb.”





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