Written by : Joseph Cardillo, Ph.D.

Achieving a Mindset of Permanent Reinvention

Hand holding brain

“Changing our internal model of reality requires time to develop, and we require time to grow into it,” says Dee Hock, founder and CEO of VISA, in his foreword to Aidan McCullen’s new book, Undisruptable: A Mindset of Permanent Reinvention for Individuals, Organizations, and Life

Based on his newest book, Undisruptable, ex-pro rugby player, Innovation Consultant and adjunct professor on transformation at Trinity College Business School, Dublin and now bestselling author, Aidan McCullen and I recently discussed creating a mindset for permanent reinvention.

Undisruptable illuminates a path toward what he calls permanent reinvention, for both individuals and organizations. His discussion on how to achieve this evolves around developing a seamlessly flowing mindset. If you’d like an image to go with that, Aidan offers the constant motion conveyed by the infinity icon. Well … there is an old Zen saying comes to mind: Keep one eye on the destination and the other eye on the way. And I get this same vibe in every section of Aidan’s carefully organized (and entertainingly argued!) model for transformation. Change constantly flows from destination to way.

Importantly, Aidan presents the pivot point for permanent change as being able to change before change is necessary. To do this, individuals must tune in to the need for coming change as it exhibits.

Undisruptable is a smart, informative book that smacks with crisp, entertaining analogies that make its points sparkle. It is divided into sixteen chapters each introduced by humorous sketches. One of my favorites pictures a tired mayfly before an enormous sequoia, commenting that the tree has been there his whole life and it has not grown even an inch. In the first sentence of this section, Aidan writes, “a mayfly lives for only two days, while a sequoia tree lives for over one thousand years. Well … the discussion turns into a learning model on perspective.

Each chapter concludes with a section on “Individual Considerations” and notes he calls, “Take Aways.”

I recently had a conversation with Aidan about Undisruptable.

Aidan: “I have had the wonderful privilege to get to the top of my game in Rugby. I choose those words carefully, Joe, because there are 3 kinds of players in sport. There are the talented, the disciplined and then the talented who are disciplined. I was more disciplined than talented. The raw materials at my disposal were limited. I was that kid in high school who was last picked, so my starting point was low. It was discipline, coupled with vision that helped me represent my country and play for the two best clubs in Europe, Toulouse in France, and Leinster in Ireland. My rugby career thought me a formula that I have used ever since: you start with a vision (it evolves), you persist with execution, it has a limited life cycle, you reinvent. Beginnings and endings are woven into the fabric of human existence, so embracing this fact is liberating.

Aside from being a bestselling author, Aidan is the host and founder of the Innovation Show, broadcast globally and on national radio stations in Ireland and Finland.

He is a change consultant, board director and executive coach. He works with organizational teams to improve how they engage and innovate. He is a champion for change who reinvented in his own career after rugby. Aidan has worked in transformation for digital, innovation and now culture and leadership.

Aidan: “I have lived everything I share in the book, the highs and lows of reinvention, the pain of letting go, the joy of embracing of vision, the transience of things.”   

Aidan’s life is a profile of changing with change.

Aidan: “With the Innovation Show, I have the distinct opportunity to interview global authors each week. I often interview authors about innovation, neuroscience, and transformation. It all led me to a conclusion that you cannot change business models until you change mental models, you cannot change what people do until you change how they think. I wanted to share this in a story-rich, metaphor-laden format that is digestible to anyone.”

My second favorite section of Undisruptable deals with the speed of change, especially with regard to Artificial Intelligence. We pursued that.

Aidan: “Many organizations get caught out by disruption that they were aware of but did not address. Many disruptions are driven by technology, and at the heart of technological change is exponential speed of change. Exponential is unlike linear change; exponential change is doublings. Think how far you would get if you walked 30 incremental steps, each out about a meter wide? 30 meters, right? How about 30 exponential steps? 30 exponential steps would bring you all the way to the moon and the last step would bring you from the moon right back to earth again. That is the power of exponential change, and it catches us off guard, because we don’t think exponentially.”

And there’s much more on that and I encourage you to go to Undisruptable and discover it.

Aiden’s tips for a more “undistruptable” life

  • Write down what you can do, unbundle the tasks that make up your job. Write down what you like to do, what parts of your job light you up.
  • Now see if you can add some new skill that will make your skills viable in a different field. Learn that missing skill now while in a job, make time for it.
  • When the rug is pulled from under your feet, you will now have another rug to stand on. You will be undisruptable. Rinse, repeat.

Aiden holds that the more of us that are happy, the less discontent we are, the more harmony and the better treatment of each other we will engender.


Joseph Cardillo, Ph.D., is an American writer, philosopher, and bestselling author of The 12 Rules of Attention: How to Avoid Screw-ups, Free Up Headspace, Do More and Be More at Work. Visit: www.josephcardillo.com for more.

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