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The 2 Words That Changed My Life

In times gone past, I found myself at a particular fundraiser in Washington, D.C.

While mingling about the fundraiser, at one point the room stood still, as the elevator doors opened. Out of the elevator walked two men, one of whom was Mitt Romney. Now since the fundraiser was for Mitt Romney, those in room flocked to him.

But I was more interested in the second manDavid Koch. David Koch was active and instrumental in building a multi-billion dollar company, Koch Industries. So I thought to myself, forget Mitt Romney. I’m going to figure out how to learn something from David Koch for my own business.

As David Koch and I  made conversation, I said to him, “You know, I really enjoyed your brother’s book, The Science of Success. It is one of the best business books I’ve ever read.

As if to test me, David Koch replied, “Oh really, what was your favorite part?”

Hear the story of my conversation with David Koch in episode 043 of my leadership podcast. Listen now:

I actually did have a favorite part (so he couldn’t bust me).

It was two words, in one sentence, in the entire book of The of Science of Success that changed my life: Koch Industries success was born out of “the creative destruction of their operations on a regular basis to stay competitive.”

To be successful, Koch Industries ripped (and still rips) apart the status quo of every aspect of the company on a regular basis.

Creative destruction is an age old, economic principal.  

However, far beyond economics and far beyond business, creative destruction is applicable to leaders in the way we live and approach leadership.

Here is how I think leaders should understand creative destruction at a deeper level . . .

From a sheer word choice perspective, I love the coupling of the two wordscreative and destruction.

These two words could not have more polar opposite meanings.

The word creative evokes feelings of hope, positivity, inspiration, and optimism about the future, and visions of a better tomorrow and a better way of doing things.

Creative is uplifting. Transformative. Thrilling. Even titillating.  

And then take the word destruction . . .

Destruction provokes feelings of anxiety, fear, uncertainty, unease.

Destruction is havoc. Upheaval. Ruin. And loss.

Coupling these two words together is a powerful acknowledgement that you can’t have one without the other . . . 


Creative + destruction.

I challenge you, as a leader, to regularly acknowledge that any step forward—any innovation, any new solution—as exciting and hopeful as creation is, comes with a certain amount of pain.

A certain amount of fear. A certain amount of anxiety. And even a certain amount of failure.

If you want the next best version of yourself, as a leader . . .

The next best version of your family . . .

The next best version of your company, your teams, your product, or your ideas . . .

Creative + destruction.

Creative destruction = the next best version of YOU.

Too often we think success is the absence of challenge or the absence of hard times. The truth is the complete opposite. Hard times make us.

Be creative in the face of destruction. And embrace the two together.


Lead well, 



Photo by Amador Loureiro on Unsplash.