Growing up in a start-up environment, I can’t begin to count the number of times I heard the word disruptive be used to connote something awesome, like a cool life-changing project, set to make the world a better place!

But you know what, there are times when being disruptive doesn’t necessarily mean good.

On a personal level, I know I’m not a big fan of conformity because I feel like that’s the way of the lazy. I also love standing out, ideally for good reasons. So being disruptive isn’t necessarily my mother second nature; and for the longest time I thought that was a bad thing. Until I learned the value of being adaptive.

So I ask. When should you be disruptive and when should you be adaptive? Here are 5 things to remember:

Be adaptive. Try the system first.

This should be a given. Each system has its own ups and downs and the best way to really know where to offer improvement is to try the process first. Nobody likes a know-it-all anyway. Add better value with a more informed insight when you give yourself first-hand experience on what you’re trying to change.

Be disruptive. Merge fresh ideas with historical data.

I’m a firm believer of the value a new set of eyes can offer. If you’re this person, take on the role seriously. Don’t waste the first reactions because those would reveal and shed light to more common gaps of any process. But, don’t just trust your knee-jerk reactions. Give them the gift of wisdom by consulting recorded trends or any form of historicals you can find. Merging new and old info can help perfect a process dramatically.

Be adaptive. Work with your team.

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Nobody loves working with a tyrant, and I’d love to think not a lot of people enjoys being one too. It’s more fun to work with your team on finding solutions to make your job more fun, your collaborative efforts more cohesive and seamless, and your working relationship more meaningful. Don’t just impose roles, nor should you demand your responsibilities. Working with your team especially when transitioning to new SOPs will prevent any unnecessary friction among your colleagues.

Be disruptive. Be precise and practice objectivity.

When giving feedback, I always practice utmost generosity. I think in any employee, whether junior or senior, the best gauge of his or her passion and concern about work would be his or her generosity in giving useful feedback. I’ve seen many times, people who are awesome at what they do, but fail to really soar and express their true value in a company because they limit themselves to their job description. I say, break that cycle. Be disruptive by going over and beyond what was expected of you. This way, you also showcase your potential and your superiors can best recognize your contributions—perhaps even, find a position for you to really own in your organization.

Be adaptive AND disruptive. Pivot to perfection. 

Like most things, nothing really is sure unless you go and find out. So here comes the part where you have to master the art of pivoting to perfection. When you’re right smack at the center of change, whether in environment, management, circumstances, etc, learn to adapt and disrupt! Adapt to the changes and allow yourself to be molded by experience… but don’t forget to also trust your instincts and capabilities, be disruptive and be quick to offer solutions when things go a little haywire.

Good luck!

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