Disruptive Wonder and the Power of Creative Leadership

Kelli Anderson is a remarkable young designer who has a lot to teach parents, pastors, professors, politicians, corporate or class presidents and just about anyone else in a leadership position who is willing to listen, learn and take some risks.

The video below is of her presentation at a TEDx event in Phoenix where she gives us a peek into her creative method. She calls it “disruptive wonder” and it hinges on a willingness to a) wonder how things came to be and b) refuse to assume that’s the way it has to be. Or as she says,

The world is full of order that doesn’t necessarily deserve our respect. Sometimes there is meaning, justice, and logic present in the way things are — but sometimes there just isn’t. And I think the moment that we realize this is the moment we become creative people. Because it prompts us to mess things up and do something better with the basic pieces of experience.

What I most appreciated about her talk, in addition to the sheer delight she brings to her work and which she gives so generously to us, was her willingness to take risks, which is to say, to throw herself into her projects but not take them, or herself, too seriously. Failure is a part of innovation, resistance a part of change, rejection a part of leadership. Throwing yourself in something with passion yet not taking it so seriously that you’re not willing to take risks strikes me as another way to describe the life of faith.

And this isn’t just for adults. In fact, I think it’s even more important for us to teach our children that the world they inherit isn’t fixed in granite but is something they can change. How else can we encourage them to be willing to throw their might and imagination toward bending the world closer to the image of God’s kingdom? “What kind of future do you want,” Kelli asks us, and we might ask our children the same. I watched this video with my soon-to-be twelve year-old daughter and enjoyed her laughter at Kelli’s fake – but infinitely more hopeful – edition of the New York Times. “Did she get in trouble,” my daughter asked, and when I said I didn’t know she responded, “Even if she did, I think it was worth it.” Exactly – disruptive wonder combined with a willingness to ask forgiveness rather than permission is a powerful thing.

So what might disruptive wonder look like in your home, classroom, boardroom, or congregation? What kind of lunches would you pack your kids – or lunch boxes would you send them in… What kind of bulletin or newsletter would you produce… What kind of PTA agenda would you draw up… if you also believed that “the way to a better future is through a million tiny disruptions”? Share your ideas, insights, and disruptive wondering. In the meantime, enjoy Kelli.

Two notes: 1) If you subscribe to the blog and received this post by email, you may need to click here to watch the video.) 2)Thanks to Maria Popova at Brain Pickings for pointing me to this video.