Craig Copeland

The Eight Attributes of a Disruptive Thinker

Simply Genius FireFly

What are the attributes of the disruptive thinker and why are they so important?

There are eight characteristics that Disruptors share, enabling them to find their unique path. Each trait sets them on a journey whose end is nowhere in sight yet calls them to accept the challenges of discovery. As you move forward through this program, each attribute reveals itself along with the guidance for how to successfully apply their techniques.

Knowing what these attributes are can lead to designing and cultivating your own pathway for learning on a higher level. If you truly desire to tap into a mindset that is both more intelligent and one that thinks differently, then it’s a good idea to get familiar with the tools that will get you there.

Encouraging Wonderment
The sense of discovery and never-ending curiosity
This is about unlocking your natural sense of curiosity & creativity

Wonder is a great motivator for keeping your energy, drive, and purpose going strong. Seeking to discover, cultivating your curious nature, and uncovering what’s possible are all great catalysts for tapping into an unlimited state of wonder. Whether the drive of your pursuit is something that calls to you or something you wish to understand, wonder is a perfect motivator for accelerating your momentum.

Wonder is the doorway to everything. It is the beginning, the catalyst, the reason to dig deeper, and to explore and discover what’s out there, and what’s possible. Wonder is a challenge for the rational thinker because they tend to look for conclusions. If you can cultivate a sense of wonderment, you can train your mind to widen its field of observation. When your mind ‘wanders’ in this way, you develop unobvious connections that can nourish and encourage your creativity.

Finding your own path
Seeing things in a unique, personal way
The way you see things can become a
powerful tool as you learn to develop this process

It all starts with an idea or question. When a Disruptor becomes intrigued with an idea, they become relentlessly obsessive. When they’re intrigued by something new or unusual, they’re filled with wonder. A Visionary first sees, then shapes the world according to his distinctive perspective. The things they focus on and pick at aren’t always obvious to them, yet they tug and tug at a loose thread until it either unravels or reveals something new.

A true Visionary is part explorer and part experimentalist. He not only sees where the road leads, he’s the one who designs the road to get there. The Visionary can be classified as an imaginative manifester. He sees the destination as if it already exists.

The art of Being Messy
The simple act of progress over perfection
Allowing yourself the freedom and permission to discover new
thoughts, insights, and ideas in your own way and time

Experimenting should be fun. It should be adventurous, and a place of discovery. Instead, we tend to seek order, uniformity, and conventionality. But to break out, create, discover, and change is to have the willingness to be uncomfortable, imperfect, and fallible. By returning to a childlike state of messiness, we no longer inhibit our ability to move forward.

Experimenting is throwing out the need to be perfect, allowing oneself to draw outside the lines and be okay with it. This is where you get to throw out the rules, become a little messy, and just have a good time enjoying the process. 

Learning how to discover
The desire to explore
Trusting in your ability to recognize the new and extraordinary

Seekers come in all shapes, sizes, ages, and genders. You find them in many fields—arts, science, engineering, design. They ask questions. They possess patience, courage, and optimism. They don’t always know where their journey will lead, but curious enthusiasm keeps them looking forward. It’s the nagging question, “What will I discover?” that keeps them motivated to seek the answers.

You must be willing to venture beyond your comfort zone, meaning, get out of your routine and try something different. When something is new and unfamiliar, oddly enough, you actually pay more attention to it, because there is so much new stuff to learn and experience. Your mind investigates, observes, wanders into the deeper ends of exploration. This is a great place to be.

Connecting unlikely dots
The ability to see a connection between unlikely or unusual things
Learning to piece together the unlikely to create something new and unique

Connecting the dots is an indirect approach to discovery. From there one has infinite possibilities of where to go. It’s not always obvious if practical application can be applied, but the creative potential is there. Connecting unlikely things should be fun, experimental, and always challenging to your creative imagination.

I liken this to McGyvering things because you are learning how unlikely things have a relationship with each other. In this way, your unique perspective is actually creating something new and unique. Think Dr. Seuss! Wild, bizarre, but fun, imaginative, and thought-provoking.

Developing the ability to take Immediate Action
No hesitation, no time for fear
The ability to act on your first thoughts without
inhibition, allowing for even bolder ideas

One of our least-developed muscles is our ability to take immediate action without hesitation. We’re prone to stifle our choices through ego and judgment of ourselves. We get held up by uncertainty because we contemplate the possibility of failure, which inhibits our capacity to take risks. This can overwhelm and create fear, which can leave us stuck and immobile. The Go-Getter’s ability to move forward allows him to course-correct faster than those who second-guess their choices.

My favorite example of this is Master Bruce Lee because his entire philosophy of ‘act, don’t react’ causes one to pay attention and to become hyper vigilant not only of the unknown, but of one’s own ability to adapt and learn. His whole idea was to use the forces around you as an extension of yourself, as a way to grow and transform into something even better than before.

Cultivating the power of your resting mind
Turning up the volume on your subconscious
Nurturing the amazing, untapped gifts of the hidden intuition

Daydreaming can take many forms. Have you ever been at the movies and suddenly something sparks a new thought or idea, or your mind unexpectedly worked out a problem that had been perplexing you for a while? This is your intuitive mind at work. By allowing yourself to daydream you strengthen the intuitive muscles. A great way to develop this is to go to the movies, become a cloud-watcher, take a long drive up the coast, explore a densely forested area, or take a lakeside hike. Sit and just people-watch. Do anything that allows your mind to (wander) wonder.

Daydreaming is the ability to bend things that don’t bend. To stretch the imagination to the absurd and ridiculous. Or, to not stifle or criticize your ideas and choices. Be daring. Be whimsical. Be imaginative.

One who doesn’t see or hear NO
Not seeing roadblocks where others see only limitation
Unlocking your full, uninhibited drive, to build and create through pure imagination

What is a Champion? Essentially, the Champion is a builder at heart. The leader who shows us newer, sometimes strange, but often better ways to look at the world. How does he do this? He seems to have a natural filter to the word “no.” It’s not that he’s countering “no,” he just simply doesn’t have it as part of his vocabulary. The Champion is an independent thinker, and that takes courage of conviction on a lonely road. Independent thought means that it’s unlimited. It has no boundaries and therefore no walls to keep one from venturing into the unknown. In this way, the Champion is given a blank canvas with permission to draw on the walls.

The Champion shows us that taking a chance is not stupid or a waste of time, it’s how we learn, grow, evolve, and improve. It’s not always successful, but it is necessary to one’s personal development. In Zen philosophy, the journey is where discovery lives, not the end.

These are the eight powerful attributes that each and every Disruptor shares and ones that you will hopefully encourage and cultivate within yourself. There is nothing hard or daunting to learn, but you need to begin trusting in your natural ability to intuit rather than analyze or reason. The logical mind does have a purpose, but when it comes to designing, building, inventing, discovering, exploring, or imagining, your intuitive mindset is going to need to be the driver for everything you are inspired to create.

It will take repeated practice to notice when you are using your intuitive mind versus your rational mind. But in order to give you an edge, and advantage, use your intuitive mind (solely) to create, invent, build, design, explore, or discover. When you are done and completely satisfied with what you have made or imagined, then you can use your rational mindset to work out the kinks.


Think of it this way… Steve Wozniak was in a playful, experimental world when creating and designing his personal computer. Then Steve Jobs used his rational mind to figure out if this could viably become a business. If you approach intuition this way, you can put it at the forefront of creation, and only after should you use your rational and analytical thinking to vet your work. Fair?

You can get a deeper dive into how these powerful attributes work in my book Disruptors.

About The Author

Craig Copeland is a Disruptive Theorist teaching the art of finding your own unique genius mindset. Disruptive thinking is much more than what society deems as counterculture or controversial. It’s about learning how to trust in and access your intuitive mindset, which is where the biggest ideas reside, the brightest creations flourish, and the most significant life-altering changes happen. The more you can begin to master this style of thinking, the greater the opportunities, and the grander the impact you’ll make.