Today my wife and I were chatting about our life in Thailand over the past 14 months. As many of you know from recent posts, this chapter of our life is closing and a new one is beginning. What successes and failures were there during this time? Hang on, do we need to use those terms to describe events in our life? Could we take a different view?

Is this our reaction to things that don't seem to work?


As an avid reader of material from the Quiet Leadership Institute, Sharon discovered a fascinating interview. Charles Duhigg has worked at the New York Times since 2006. His book, The Power of Habit — discusses the science of habit formation in our lives, companies, and societies.

In a recent interview with the Quiet Leadership Institute, he discussed a raft of qualities that are found in effective leaders. It includes the need for effective leaders to model the patterns of behavior he/she wants to see in their teams. One of the important attitudes that he talked about was the concept of “constructive disturbance”. What does that term mean and how could we use it in our on-line business programs? Could this change how we view our day-to-day progress here at Wealthy Affiliate? Here is Charles Duhigg’s explanation.

“Leaders who believe in the value of constructive disturbance see the decisions they make as experiments, and they pay attention to what happens after they run the experiment. Most of us don’t tend to look at the choices we’ve made as an experiment—we look at them as something that was good or bad, a success or a failure. But experiments are never binary that way—experiments are things that give us both success and failure. Usually what a scientist does is try to figure out the ratio: “This experiment was 90% a failure and 10% a success because I learned X and I can use X to run the experiment again a little bit better.” That’s a powerful framework for thinking about the decisions we’ve made. We know that every choice has good elements and bad elements. Understanding how to quantify that, how to recognize the good and the bad, that’s how you learn what to replicate and what to discard.

When people bring some disturbance into their life, the next essential step is to take a step back a little bit later and say, “Okay, so I ran an experiment. What did I learn that worked, and what did I learn that didn’t work? How do I take that knowledge and build on it for the next experiment I’m going to run?” When something doesn’t work, it’s not a failure. It’s an experiment that gave you some data. The only way it ever becomes a failure is if you don’t learn what you can from it, if you don’t make it useful.” – Quiet Leadership Institute, Newsletter April 2016.


"Constructive Disturbance" - Not a "Failure"!

Success or failure – we use those words so often when analyzing our attitude to life, to relationships, to business. And so many of us talk about not fearing failure – I have in some of my posts. Why not use the phrase “constructive disturbance” from now on? I certainly will be. I can think back over many instances in my life that I have deemed a failure, yet said in the next breath, “but I learned this about myself”.

Some of the things we try in developing our niche websites don’t always turn out the way we had hoped or expected. So it is another experiment that had a percentage of valid information and a different percentage of stuff to discard. I have changed widgets, affiliate links, images, installed and deleted plug-ins and deep down knew it was experimental. I was engaging in what Charles Duhigg calls “constructive disturbance”. I have used those occasions as knowledge building, giving me valuable experience for the future.


“Constructive disturbance” – not success or failure – should motivate us to keep working, taking progressive steps to a platform of experienced accomplishment.


Got an opinion on “constructive disturbance”? Love to hear from you.



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dtlars Premium
Duncan, Great post. Getting out of our comfort zone (fear of failure, of what others think, etc). creates the constructive disturbance that leads to the "platform of experienced accomplishment " of which you speak..
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Funkydunc208 Premium
So true. Thank you for your contribution.
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DeniseOlsen5 Premium
Constructive disturbance - and interesting way to put it! I like it!
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Funkydunc208 Premium
Glad you do, Denise. It is an interesting perspective.
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Zidor Premium
I like this - Constructive disturbance - even feels right - thank you - Henry
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Funkydunc208 Premium
Hi Henry, glad you enjoyed it.
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Sui_generis Premium
I love that phrase. We should always think positive and "failure" certainly isn't a positive word. Constructive disturbance -- I'll remember that!! Thanks.
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Funkydunc208 Premium
Glad you enjoyed it so much.
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SusanAL Premium
I find the word "failure" of much value. It just says to me that something didn't work out and to try something else. It's just a value measurement. It becomes immobilizing only when we give it more power than it should have. Just like falling. We get up. Falling doesn't mean we are poor at holding ourselves up. We just took a misstep.

Always enjoy your posts. Thanks for sharing!
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Funkydunc208 Premium
Hi susan. Your approach to failure is a very positive one. Many people are on auto pilot and without thinking give failure more power than they need to.
Toddlers learning to walk fall over many times but just keep trying to get up. You never hear them say, "I don't think I will ever do that. Walking isn't for me."
Getting up and trying again is the key.
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MKearns Premium
The human mind is a powerful thing. Stepping back and reanalyzing bring a large assortment of choices that color success from failure.
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Funkydunc208 Premium
Very true.
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Nazmi524 Premium
A different perspective of viewing failures. Thank you.
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Funkydunc208 Premium
You are very welcome. Glad it helped.
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LenaMiglena Premium
I like that! And that quote of Thomas Edison is one of my favorite!
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Funkydunc208 Premium
Glad I could remind you of it.
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Dmorrow Premium
I like looking at it this way!
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Funkydunc208 Premium
I knew many here at WA would enjoy it.
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LH-CLUB Premium
The way I look at it is learning how to be an entrepreneur through an apprenticeship of different ideas, so it`s basically trial and error.

I think a proper entrepreneur thinks differently than the norm they just carry on till the jobs done, tunnel vision nothing will stop them.

That`s why it`s so crucial to read and learn every single day but read the right stuff too. If you don`t you will get left behind.

One other important thing you have to learn how to have patience it can take months if not longer, but just remember clear your head of rubbish.

Onwards and upwards

Cheers,

Lou
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Funkydunc208 Premium
Hey, Lou. They are some very valid points. Having a clear vision and developing a different mindset is very important.
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kebennett Premium
Good food for thought. Keep 'em coming...
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Funkydunc208 Premium
I certainly will do that.
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NanMarie Premium
I love this idea of constructive disturbance. When I think back on how I started my business, it was, in fact, an experiment. I had no idea if it would work or not. It worked in some was and not in others. This year I will celebrate the tenth anniversary of that business, which I have adapted over that time to work in a way that it goes well for me, my family and the my customers. It's all about adaptation rather than giving up.
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Funkydunc208 Premium
Yes, and your recent post about that business was very encouraging. Like all things, time is required for growth to occur and results to flourish forth. Adapting to the changing circumstances is certainly vital.
Thank you, Marie.
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dianegailit Premium
An experiment is a great way to look at things. There is NO failure, but an experiment that will work better next time around. Thank you for sharing this alternative view :-)
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Funkydunc208 Premium
Experiments require trial and error. Sometimes our life experiences trials and we make errors. Quantifying the results, what we have learned from it, can keep us from getting despondent.
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Chrissies Premium
I always think that what some people call failure is just part of the learning curve on the way to success! Thanks for sharing this, and I so agree with that quote from Thomas Edison! Good luck :)
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Funkydunc208 Premium
Thank you, Chrissie. Glad you enjoyed it.
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MarionBlack Premium
Every time I say Ooops! I know I've learned something.
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Funkydunc208 Premium
Shorter than failure, or constructive disturbance. :))
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RobinHudson Premium
Failure is a little easier to say hahaha however, constructive disturbance holds a more positive connotation.
I always used take 'failure' pretty hard, but then realized at least I tried and I started giving myself credit for trying... and I learned.
Not sure I can replace 'failure' with 'constructive disturbance' in my vocabulary, but I haven't had an opportunity to practice yet :)
When do you guys make the move?
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Funkydunc208 Premium
Two weeks today is when we move out of our home. We have booked into a resort close to the airport for a night and then fly home late on the 26th.
The packing starts soon. :((
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RobinHudson Premium
Good luck Duncan. It seems like a big undertaking, but I know your steps are ordered and the plans for you and your wife are good. Be of good cheer!
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SamiWilliams Premium
Thank you very much for the reminder of how much we can do to help ourselves!
Sami
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Funkydunc208 Premium
You're welcome, Sami. Glad you enjoyed it.
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mjdimarco Premium
It's all about your point of view. If you start with a negative viewpoint, it certainly will be.
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Funkydunc208 Premium
Very true. Perspective can be changed just by moving to look at things from another angle. Sadly some stay stuck in a rut and never really change their outlook on life.
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dorina62 Premium
Constructive disturbance is also a medical term!
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Funkydunc208 Premium
Really? Tell me more. I am all ears.
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dorina62 Premium
It is a term used in the cases of dementia which is a state of mental health.
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Ericabried Premium
I think a 'constructive disturbance' sounds much better than a failure. I personally believe that we learn so much when things do not go quite the way we hoped.
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Funkydunc208 Premium
That is very true, Erica. As long as we accept that things will, at times, not work out how we had hoped.
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KelseyLim Premium
Hi Duncan, Well it is just like whether you consider the cup is half full or if it is half empty. It is all a point of view. There is always two sides of a coin. But on deeper thought, it is actually the same coin. [Liat]
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Funkydunc208 Premium
Very true. Perspective is crucial.
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JudeP Premium
'Constructive disturbance'...I absolutely love it! thanks so much for sharing this :)
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Funkydunc208 Premium
You are very welcome, Jude.
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WillingToTry Premium
Hi Duncan,

So that's the new modernist expression "constructive disturbance"!

In my opinion we should rather get rid of the success/failure mindset which seems to dog our modern commercially oriented society's thinking.

John Dewey, an educationist and philosopher already held an "alternative view" of education during the last century and was the chief proponent of the method of "experiential learning" .

Educationists call this the practice of "pragmatism in education", which is essentially what you're blogging about.

In my own experience, there is no such thing as outright failure or a waste of time, and I can truthfully say that every experience, including the essential component of "failure", has always been an invaluable opportunity to learn something new! Viva lifelong learning!

More strength to your quill!

Kind regards,
~Arthur

PS. Some further reading on the topic:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_education
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Funkydunc208 Premium
Great addition to the discussion, Arthur. Thank you for the extra information. It is very helpful.
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VincentA Premium
Interesting post
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Funkydunc208 Premium
Thank you.
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AchuthanN1 Premium
Yes, I agree that it is another way of looking at what didn`t work. And from that experience , learning from it makes it constructive. Excellent way of putting it, Great job.
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Funkydunc208 Premium
Glad you enjoyed the information.
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theresroth Premium
I hope this term becomes popular!

Excellent post!
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Funkydunc208 Premium
It is a great term, isn't it. I found it very helpful.
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Buddle Premium
Yeah, heard this before Funky, it is so inspirational. Thanks for reminding us.
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Funkydunc208 Premium
You're welcome.
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