Whitney Johnson: Create > Compete
After studying Clayton Christensen's theory of disruptive innovation, Whitney Johnson developed the concept of "Disrupting Yourself"—a principle she has successfully taught in the business world for years. On this week’s episode, she teaches us how the model is demonstrated in our Heavenly Father’s plan and is founded on gospel principles. By continually evolving and developing, rather than competing with one another, Johnson says we can spend our time living in abundance. Additionally, when we focus our efforts on continually creating, we will recognize not only our own strengths, but others' strengths, as well.
When you think about taking the right risks from a gospel perspective, this is us thinking about ‘What am I going to create? What kind of future will I create?' This is God's plan. We have agency. So what can we create?
Article in Harvard Business Review: "What is Disruptive Innovation?" by Clayton M. Christensen, Michael E. Raynor, and Rory McDonald, December 2015
Whitney Johnson's Podcast: Disrupt Yourself
Clayton M. Christensen's Book: The Power of Everyday Missionaries
New York Times Article about Mitt Romney and the Church: "What Is It About Mormonism?" By Noah Feldman, January 2008
Diagram of the S-Curve:
Book: The Science of Getting Rich, Wallace Wattles, 2015
Quote from President David O. McKay: "Joy comes through creation—sorrow through destruction" (President David O. Mckay, "10 Rules of Happiness," see Whitney's post on LinkedIn)
Quote from Elder Jeffery R. Holland: "But the first great truth of all eternity is that God loves us with all of His heart, might, mind, and strength" (Elder Jeffery R. Holland, "Tomorrow the Lord Will Do Wonders among You," General Conference, April 2016)
Quote from President Russell M. Nelson: "The word for repentance in the Greek New Testament is metanoeo. The prefix meta- means “change.” The suffix -noeo is related to Greek words that mean “mind,” “knowledge,” “spirit,” and “breath" (President Russell M. Nelson, "We Can Do Better and Be Better," General Conference, May 2019)
Talk by President Russell M. Nelson: "Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives," General Conference, April 2018
The New York Times Video: "Ronald Reagan's 'Tear Down This Wall' Speech," 1987
1:13- The Mentorship of Clayton Christensen
10:48- Disrupt Yourself Through Creation
17:34- Why Growth Matters in God’s Plan
20:47- Repentance as Another Word For Disruption
22:51- The Job to Be Done
25:09- Play to Your Distinctive Strengths
32:47- Avoiding Comparison
36:00- What Does It Mean to Be All In the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
Morgan Jones 0:00
How does someone who majored in music at Brigham Young University end up becoming an award-winning Wall Street stock analyst, only to be eventually considered one of the leading management thinkers in the world? It sounds like something from a movie, but it's the true story of Whitney Johnson's life, and today we talk about the concept that got her where she is today, both personally and professionally. Whitney Johnson is an executive education coach for Harvard Business School and the author of multiple books including "Disrupt Yourself." She co-founded the investment fund, "Rose Park Advisors" with Clayton Christensen. In 2018, she was named a Top Voice by LinkedIn, and in 2019, she was number 14 on the Thinker's 50 list. She is the host of the "Disrupt Yourself" podcast.
This is "All In," an LDS Living podcast where we ask the question, "What does it really mean to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ?" I'm Morgan Jones and I am honored to have Whitney Johnson on the line with me today. Whitney, welcome.
Whitney Johnson 1:10
Thank you, Morgan. I am delighted to be with you.
Morgan Jones 1:13
Well, I have looked forward to this conversation. I've been reading Whitney's book, Disrupt Yourself. You've written several books, Whitney, but Disrupt Yourself is the one that I've been reading. And I'm so excited to share with people today some thoughts about disruption, especially as it relates to principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ. So for those who are not familiar, let's start off, and if you don't mind, Whitney, could you just explain the concept of disruption?
Whitney Johnson 1:42
Yes, absolutely. So, disruption or disruptive innovation is a term of ours that was coined by Clayton Christensen at Harvard Business School, who, as we all know, passed away just earlier this year. And he codified this framework in his book called The Innovator's Dilemma, it was built on his doctoral thesis. And at its simplest, it's a silly little thing that takes over the world, like the telephone did to the telegraph, the automobile did to the horse and buggy. More recently, we've seen Toyota disrupt General Motors, we've seen Netflix disrupt Blockbuster, Uber and Lyft disrupting cabs. And so that's what it is, at its most, at its essence, it's this silly little thing that takes over the world.
Morgan Jones 2:28
Fascinating. I think those examples—I love that the examples that you gave, many of them are recent. They're things that we can remember. We just recently had a conversation in our office about how much we miss Blockbuster. And it's a little thing, but it's funny that something like Netflix, and before that it was Redbox, those little things were able to completely overthrow something that was such a part of our culture. And so I think that that is powerful. So first of all, Clayton Christensen, who was one of your mentors, he taught the concept of disruptive innovation. So is this something that you learned from Clayton Christensen? And if so, can you tell us how you came in contact with him and speak to the influence that he had on your life?
Whitney Johnson 3:20
So how much time do you have? So yeah, you know, as I think about it—first of all, let me tell you how I came in contact with him. So one of the first times I ever heard him speak or learned about him was in the early 2000s. It was like 2002 to 2003. And I was working at Merrill Lynch in New York as an equity analyst covering the emerging markets, telecom and media. And I had gone to Washington DC to hear him talk about how disruption will change the communications industry. And I immediately recognized when I heard him speak that this theory was explaining exactly what was happening for me. So I was in Mexico, working, not in Mexico, but covering telecom in Mexico and covering a company called America Mobile, which is like the third-largest telecom or wireless company in the world. And every quarter, they were beating my numbers over and over again. And there was this other company called Telmex that was disappointing all my numbers. It's like, "What is going on? I think I'm being aggressive. I'm like out there with my numbers. And they just keep beating them." And when I heard Clay speak, I said, "Oh, this is what is happening. Wireless is disrupting wireline." And I was immediately just so entranced by this theory of disruptive innovation. I remember, I took his book and I gave it to all my clients, I gave a copy to Carlos Slim, who is the shareholder of America Mobile and one of the richest men in the world. And I just—it was helping me understand. I built these financial models trying to predict when a stock would go up, and now I had a model that helps see, oh, now I understand what's happening.
So that's my first interaction with him. But then what happened is that now I'm reading the book Innovator's Dilemma and, basically, Clayton was responsible for me leaving Wall Street. And here's why. Because I'm reading this book, and it's, you know, that silly little thing that takes over the world. I'm thinking about it up until that point in time, as products and services. But now I have this kernel of an idea that this theory of disruption, it's not just about products and services and companies and even countries, it's about people. And I still remember, like, it's almost like this passage that I was reading in the book of like, "Okay, if I stay on Wall Street, I'm not going to be able to accomplish what I was supposed to accomplish." And it was very vague at that point, but you know, how you have that feeling? And I realized, I'm going to have to leave Wall Street, I'm going to have to disrupt myself. Because I was making a fair amount of money, and I remember when I left my boss was like, "Are you out of your mind? Like you don't walk away from this." But I knew that I needed to do it.
And so I walk away from Wall Street, we're now living in Boston, I've connected with Clayton. I've reached out to him because I'm like, I've got to know this guy. And it turns out that I get called, and I'm condensing a lot of it, but I get called into Public Affairs for the greater Boston area, and he was the Area Authority in charge of it, and I got an opportunity to work with him at Public Affairs in a Church capacity for several years. And that's when we really got acquainted. We did some wonderful events. And just one in particular that I think is lovely is that Truman Madsen, a couple of years before he passed away, we did this event at Jane Clayson Johnson's house for Truman Madsen with a number of scholars like Krister Stendahl—who had been this wonderful advocate for the Church in Sweden— invited all of them into her home and Clay presided. Mitt Romney was there just as a way to say thank you for these people who had been advocates for the Church. So that's what we got to do in Public Affairs. And then—and this is the last part of the story, sort of a four-part in terms of connecting with him—when Clay wanted to start a fund that was investing in disruptive innovation, his son Matt was just graduating from Business School. And because I had the background on Wall Street, because we had worked together now in Public Affairs, he knew me, and he trusted me. Even though this was kind of a disruption as well because up until that time, he had only really hired people who had gone to Harvard Business School, who had been students like Scott Anthony and Mark Johnson and Matt Eyring. But because I was there and I had worked, and I was sort of playing where no one else was playing, serendipitously, he asked me to join him as a cofounder with his son to launch the Disruptive Innovation Fund. And then I got to work with him for about six years before I sold my stake in 2012 and then moved to what I'm doing now. But that is the history of getting to meet Clay and I'm so excited to share this with you because I haven't really been able to because Kobe Bryant passed away the same week and it wasn't appropriate to, sort of, go on and on about him when the whole world was also mourning Kobe Bryant. But that's the story, in a nutshell.
Morgan Jones 8:05
Yeah. Well, first before we move past Clayton, I have been fascinated by him for a long time. I heard him speak once, and then I also have the opportunity right now to work with his niece. And it was interesting, you mentioned the week that he passed away, and that was an interesting week for us in our office to watch her mourn his passing, and it was clear the impression that he had made on her as a person. And many people listening to this podcast will be familiar with Clayton, maybe not as much with disruptive innovation, but instead with The Power of Everyday Missionaries. You mentioned that you had the chance to work with him in Public Affairs. I'm curious, Whitney, what did Clayton teach you about being a disciple of Jesus Christ?
Whitney Johnson 9:00
Such a great question. A lot. So I had worked with him in that Church capacity, but I think that the real thing for me is that he wasn't different at work or at church, like he was the same person. His secular life informed his spiritual life. He brought all of that knowledge and training that he had at Harvard and Oxford—I think it was Oxford—into his work life, but then to his church life. But then he also brought his Church life into his work life, and he was the same person. And I think one of the real experiences I remember having is that, early on, we were retooling his website. And I remember seeing that on his Harvard Business School bio, he had a link that said, "Why I belong and why I believe." And I remember looking at that, coming from Wall Street and just being like, "Are you kidding me? Like, he has his testimony on his Harvard Business School website?!" And I just couldn't, you know, because I had been on Wall Street, you don't do that. And there was this amazing article by Noah Feldman around that time in the New York Times when Mitt Romney was running for President and how we in the Church had done such a good job of mainstreaming ourselves and kind of making sure we blend in. And Clay was like, "I am not going to blend in." And so I think, for me, he taught me and, I think about this all the time now because I have my own platform where I'm writing and speaking, etc., he taught me—and I haven't even begun to approximate what he's done—is this importance of making sure that my secular life shows up in my spiritual life and my spiritual life shows up in my secular life and that I don't compartmentalize, and that I'm a disciple of Jesus Christ all times. And so that, to me, is the biggest thing I learned from him.
Morgan Jones 10:48
I love that, and I think it feeds perfectly into what I want to talk about today. But I'm curious, before we get to that, at what point did you, kind of, start to talk with him about disrupting yourself and how you were seeing this application personally? And did he encourage you to write Disrupt Yourself?
Whitney Johnson 11:11
Oh, that's a great question. You know what, it's something that I just kind of did on my own. I think I was a little bit reluctant to really open up and share that because it felt like, you know, because I admired him so much, I think I was like, "I don't want to know what he thinks! Like, I'm afraid of what he'll think!" But what I will say is that you know, that I published that article, "Disrupt Yourself" in Harvard Business Review and then he blurbed my books, but what I do know is that—it's probably been a couple years ago now—before he got really sick again, I remember having this conversation with him and he just said, "Whitney, I'm really proud of you." And those were such wonderful words for me. I felt it, that he meant it, that I had gone on, I had disrupted myself. I'd taken this theory of his in a very different direction, and he was proud of what I had accomplished. And so that was a very meaningful thing for me.
Morgan Jones 12:07
So cool. So this concept of disrupting yourself, in your book, you've broken it up into a seven-point framework. And the seven-point framework is structured over an S curve, which may be hard for people to imagine in their minds. So we'll link something in the show notes to give you a visual, but I wondered, Whitney, if you could describe the seven-point framework and how it works on the S curve first?
Whitney Johnson 12:38
Yep. Absolutely. Okay. So let's start with this idea. We talked about disruption and how you make this decision to become a silly little thing so you can take over the world. But in the case of personal disruption, it's so that you can take over your world. So, you know, it's not Uber and Lyft disrupting cabs in this case, you are disrupting you. And so, if you can picture, kind of this piece of graph paper in your mind, it's the decision where you're on this y-axis of success, and maybe you're at a 15 right now. And so far in your life, your trajectory of accomplishment and sort of however you're measuring success, it's sort of this over one, up one, over one, up one. You're doing well, it's fine. But you make that decision to disrupt yourself, and what you're doing in that moment is you're saying, I am going to go from being a 15 to a 13. I'm going to consciously take that step back because I believe that in the decision to do that, the trajectory will change on the graph paper of my life from over one, to up three, over one, up three, or maybe over one, up 10. And so it's this stepping back from who you are, into who you can be. And so that's what it looks like for you as an individual, you are disrupting you and you basically become a silly little thing so you can take over your world. Okay, so should I go through the framework, really quickly?
Morgan Jones 14:00
Yes, yes, I'd love that.
Whitney Johnson 14:02
Okay, so the very first step—and Morgan, you know, you'll include it so people can see this movement along the S curve—the very first step is to take the right risks. And we know about this a lot from disruption theory, there's competitive risk, and there's market risk. Competitive risk is, you know, there's a big opportunity, you've got projections that tell you there's a big opportunity, but you have to figure out if you can compete. Market risk is, you don't know if there's an opportunity, but there's also no competition. So if there is that opportunity, then your odds of success, according to the theory of disruption go from 6% to 36%, or an increase of six times. So that's disruption theory. It applies to companies, it applies to you in your career. And I know from my own work experience when I moved from being an investment banker to an equity analyst, I took on market risks.
And actually, I'll just tell the story really fast and then you can edit it out if you want to! The story is that I'm working on Wall Street, my boss gets fired, and basically they're like, "Well, what are we going to do with her?" But it turns out, they're like, "Well, she has good reviews, she happens to be pregnant, so we probably can't fire her. So we're going to move her." But they actually shoved me into equity research. And if you know financial services, you know that's like going from flying a fighter jet to a cargo plane. So it's a huge disruption. And then once I get there, they're like, "Oh, we want you to cover the cement and construction sector. But there's just been a merger. There's another cement and construction analyst." So I'm like, "Okay, so what do I do? How do I take on market risk? How do I create something? How do I play where no one else is playing?" Well, turns out that there were a number of media companies at the time that were going public, and there wasn't an analyst to cover them. So rather than trying to like knock on this cement door that was closed, take on competitive risk, I built my own media door, and within one year, just one year, because I was playing where no one else was playing, I was creating a new market, I became an institutional investor or award-winning analyst. So that's what it looks like for you and work.
Now, here's what I want to talk about from a spiritual perspective. From a spiritual perspective, if you think about competitive versus market risk, the adversary pushes us to compete all the time. And it's not against ourselves, because that's the contest that's worth competing, is against ourselves. He encourages us to compete against everybody else, versus the Savior, who encourages us to create. So much so that He spends a lot of time in the temple teaching us how to create. And Brooke Snow, who I know you had on the podcast recently, did this wonderful webinar on this power of creating. We know that Elder Uchtdorf said that one of the greatest, deepest yearnings of the human soul is to create, that joy comes through creation. And so, when you think about taking the right risks from a gospel perspective, this is us thinking about what am I going to create? What kind of future will I create? This is God's plan. We have agency. So what can we create? It's not competing. What can we create? And I'll just sum it up with this wonderful quote, which is, "Amateurs compete. Professionals create." And so that's the very first tenet of personal disruptions. You take the right risks and you figure out how to create versus compete.
Morgan Jones 17:34
Amazing. That quote is so powerful. And I think that concept of creation, obviously, as Latter-day Saints, you know, we believe that part of our purpose here on earth is to become like God. And I think part of that is harnessing and recognizing our ability to create as God creates. I feel like a big piece of this, Whitney, is—and maybe something that a lot of people struggle with—I know I at times have struggled with recognizing my purpose and trying to discover my life's mission. In the book you quote Ralph Waldo Emerson, who said, "Beauty is the moment of transition as if the form were just ready to flow into other forms." And I love that idea of evolving and changing. And I think sometimes because we're so focused on trying to find our purpose and discover what our life's mission is, sometimes we become so stuck on that, that we don't allow ourselves or recognize our need to evolve and change and become. And so that quote in the book reminded me of Heavenly Father's plan and how it's not His intent for us to just remain the same. He wants us to use our agency to evolve. So why would you say, Whitney, that it's important to continue to grow, and why do you believe that that's important also to our Heavenly Father?
Whitney Johnson 19:05
Such a great question. Okay, I'm going to start, I think, as you're noticing, I'm going to always try to, kind of, do secular/spiritual because I think it's important for us to try to figure out ways to put these two pieces of our lives together. So I read this book, it's not actually a secular book, but it kind of is. It's by Wallace D. Wattles and it's called The Science of Getting Rich. It was written 120 years ago, but listen to what he says. He says, "God wants us to live an abundant life. Every living thing must continually seek for the enlargement of life. In the mere act of living, we must increase itself. A seed, dropped into the ground, springs into activity and in the act of living, produces 100 more seeds. Life, by living, multiplies itself. It is forever becoming more. It must do so to continue to exist." And I love that, and I think about Heavenly Father, how He wants to bring to pass our immortality. He wants us to create. David O. McKay said, "Joy comes through creation." And I love Elder Holland's quote—I still call him President because he was President when I was at BYU—Elder Holland's quote, that the first great truth of all eternity is that God loves us with all his heart, might, mind, and strength. Like this is who He is. He creates. Like I said, in the temple, it's just this whole idea of creation. And so He created us, and He wants us to learn how to create ourselves. And He wants us to learn how to create other worlds. I mean, this is what He does. This is His job. And so, I just, I mean, I don't even know what else to say. It's His job. This is what makes Him happy.
Morgan Jones 20:47
Yeah, no, for sure. And I think, the last time that I was reading your book, just a couple days ago, I was thinking about how, to me, it seems like this concept disruption would be something that God would be a big fan of. I feel like He wants us so badly to recognize the things that we're capable of. I love your story, Whitney, because you continually started to recognize more and more things that were gifts and talents that you had. And then you've been able to use those gifts and talents to bless other people, to help others. And so why do you believe, Whitney, that God is a fan of disruption and in what ways is simply our being here on Earth evidence of that?
Whitney Johnson 21:39
Oh, I love that so much. I hope He is. I believe that He is. Well, if you think about it, disruption is really just another word for repentance. I mean, President Nelson, you know, he's popularized that term "metanoeo." Oh, and he just, he says, you know, the prefix is "meta" means change and the suffix, "noeo" is related to mind and knowledge and spirit and breath. And then he says, "Nothing is more liberating, more ennobling, more crucial to our progression than a daily focus on repentance." And I think, if you're in a secular audience, I would say to people every day all day long is, which is basically you disrupting yourself every single day. And you know, to what extent is our being on the earth evidence of that? Well, we were spirits. And I think before we came to this earth, there were some people, and I hope we were among them, that were very mature. We were in the counsels of heaven. There were these wars in heaven, and we fought them. And what do we do? We're born here, on Earth, as a baby, helpless, no memory. I mean, if that isn't a silly little thing that can take over our own world? I mean, the whole plan of happiness is one big disruption for ourselves.
Morgan Jones 22:51
Mmm. I'm, like, still trying to wrap my head around that entirely. But I think that makes so much sense. So Whitney, with that idea of repentance and continually repenting, continually disrupting ourselves, I think that one thing that stood out to me this last time as I was reading, Disrupt Yourself —and it's a book that I've found myself coming back to again and again, which that's a compliment to you—but, one thing that you talk about in the book is identifying the job to be done. For those that are not familiar with that concept just from a secular view, can you explain that concept of identifying jobs to be done?
Whitney Johnson 23:38
Yes, absolutely. So this is, again, a concept that Clay popularized this notion of every time we buy a product or service, we're hiring it to do a job for us. And there's a functional job that we're hiring it to do, and there's an emotional job. So for example, Facebook, the functional job might be well, if I'm on Facebook, I don't need to send Christmas cards to my friends, and the emotional job is it allows me to stay in touch with my friends and have people tell me happy birthday when my birthday comes. And whenever you take on a new job, you're hiring a boss or hiring a company to do the functional job of giving you a paycheck, so you can put food on your table, but you're hiring for an emotional job to allow you to feel this sense of accomplishment, a sense of learning, a sense of growth and development. And so there's always the functional and emotional job. And if you really analyze it, you'll find that oftentimes, in particular in a work environment, when you're struggling on the job, sometimes it's because you're not doing the functional job. But if you've got a boss that you're not getting along with, it's almost always that you're not doing the emotional job that they hired you to do. And so it's really important as you're thinking about taking on a job, when you're you know buying a product if you're an entrepreneur trying to build a company think about, okay, so what functional job are people going to hire this product for me to do, and what emotional job are they hiring us to do as well. So that's the basic understanding of jobs to be done.
Morgan Jones 25:09
So interesting. And then, I wondered, though, if we could—and you tell me if this is doable—but one thing that stood out to me when we were talking through the best way to approach this conversation is you mentioned patriarchal blessings helping us to be able to recognize the gifts and talents that we've been given, our strengths. And, so how does understanding those things help us recognize our job to be done here on earth?
Whitney Johnson 25:43
Okay. Alright. So great question. So I think I'm going to put a few things together. So we've got the jobs to be done is like so what jobs are we supposed to do and kind of what our purpose is. And so I'm going to talk briefly about that, and then I'm going to talk about the accelerant number two in this framework, which is to play to your distinctive strengths. So let me just tell you a quick story.
I remember a couple years ago, I was having a conversation with Bob Proctor, who was featured in the film, "The Secret," and he talks a lot about the law of attraction. He's this lovely man, wonderful mentor. He's now in his mid-80s. And I remember telling him that I was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and he immediately said, "Oh, then you get it." Like, you get it, like you understand what it is we're doing on this planet. And he also then said to me, "That also means that you have a purpose. You know why you're here on this earth."
Now, he meant that in a general sense, but it's something that I think is really important for you and me and everybody listening. We are so confident in our understanding that we are children of God, that we are here on this planet to learn some things, to be tested, to figure out if we will be faithful in all things, and to be able to figure out how to repent, how to grow and develop, that is so much a part of who we are that I think sometimes we really underestimate and take it completely for granted, almost to the point of sometimes getting a little bit smug. So I think that's the first thing that we want to understand is that we do get it. Like, because of the gospel, we understand in a general sense why we are here on Earth.
Now, from a specific standpoint, then the question becomes, okay, well, what are our specific missions? And I think that goes to the question of like, well, what are our strengths? What are the things, what gifts have we been given? And so let me just talk about that briefly. And then we'll circle back to our patriarchal blessings. So, you know, when we think about our strengths, these are things that we do well, and ideally, in lots of situations, it's going to be the things that other people around us don't do well. And we know from the scripture, "To each of us has given a gift that all make profit," and then the question is, what are we going to do with those gifts? The challenge for us and many of us is that we either don't know what our strengths are, and then, even when we do know what they are, we don't value them because they are things that are so easy for us, things that we do so reflexively well, that we dismiss them like, "Oh, that couldn't possibly be valuable, because I'm really good at it and it's super easy for me. So I want to do stuff that's hard for me." So that's the first thing just to be aware of, if you're really going to disrupt yourself effectively, you need to be very clear on what your strengths are, and then value them and not dismiss them. Now, there are a number of different clues that you can go through to figure out what those are. They can be things like what makes you feel strong? You can ask yourself, what exasperates you when you find yourself saying, "This is just common sense, everybody gets that." And we kind do that actually with the gospel, right? "This is just common sense. Everybody knows that they're child of God!" Well, everybody doesn't know they're a child of God. But that's a strength that we have. Or what compliments do you get all the time that you just dismiss them? Those are some clues of what your strengths are.
Two other clues that I think are really relevant in this particular context is what have been some of your favorite Church callings? Callings that you got that you really loved. And you were actually really good at them. So one of mine came about in a very surprising way, which was, my husband was a Bishop of a young single adult ward. We were living in Manhattan at the time, we had a brand new baby, I was working 90 hours a week pretty much on Wall Street, and they wanted to give me a brand new calling. And they wanted me to be an extractor. And I was like, "Wait, I can't, like that's not the right calling for me. I already feel super isolated." So I went back to them, and I said, "I think you were inspired to give me a calling, but I'm not sure it was this calling. Can we both pray about this some more?" So they said, "Great, let's pray about it." The Relief Society president comes to me and says, "Okay, you can add any calling you want." I'm like, "Okay, you can be a Relief Society teacher, you can be the spotlight coordinator." Of course, I want to teach Relief Society. I pray about it. The calling I'm supposed to have is spotlight coordinator, and everybody's like, what's that calling? Well, spotlight coordinator, at least the way I conceived of it, is every couple of weeks I would go have lunch with someone in our ward, I would interview them, kind of like I do on my podcast, and then talk about them in Relief Society. And after I finished talking about them, then I would generalize something about them that was universal to everybody in the room. One of my favorite callings ever, not surprising that I now do podcasts.
Another clue, besides your favorite Church calling, is what does your patriarchal blessing say? Like, are we really mining our patriarchal blessings for not only what our general missions are, but what our specific missions are? And again, as you're thinking about disrupting yourself, we have access to these amazing gifts, like this patriarchal blessing is from Heavenly Father. He is telling us what our gifts are. And so that helps us understand what our mission is in our life.
Now, one last thought on that, before I wrap up, one of the things that I think is really interesting for many of us, and this goes to accelerant number seven, is that it's important for us to be driven by discovery. David Brooks, who's the New York Times columnist said that most people think they need to have a purpose, and then they'll know what it is they're supposed to do. He said, but that's not how it works. Most of us find a problem that we need to figure out how to solve. And then in the solving of that problem, we gradually construct ourselves. And I believe that this is part of this journey that we're on earth and we know Nephi said, "Not knowing beforehand the things which I should do." President Nelson, having us listen to that talk on revelation, which I've listened to 50 times, at least, is that "Eye hath not seen nor ear heard." Part of the joy of being on this earth is getting to discover what our mission is, getting to discover what our calling is, getting to discover what God has prepared for us and getting to discover that, in fact, we have become the people that can stand in the presence of God and be happy and grateful and feel like, "Okay, because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, I get to be here. And I feel like it's okay that I'm here, like, I got here." And so to me, that is a very long-winded way of saying that I think that the job to be done is really, you use your patriarchal blessing, you look at your strengths. Those all help us figure out what our lives mission are. Not only generally, but specifically.
Morgan Jones 32:47
That is so cool. And I think, Whitney, I just have one follow up question. And hopefully this makes sense. But as you were talking, I was thinking about a statement that you made earlier about how this is not about comparing ourselves to one another, but recognizing our strengths. And I wondered, how do you think that we do that while avoiding pride? Or how do we avoid that trap, that constant trap that's in front of us of comparing ourselves when we're looking for the things that we do better than other people? Does that make sense?
Whitney Johnson 33:25
Oh, yeah, that's a great question. Yeah, so I think it's all in the framing and, and recognizing, I mean, if we go back to where they talked about the body, it's this idea of saying, "Okay, I have this hand, and I'm a hand. And I'm really good as a hand at what I do," and acknowledging that there were things that I can contribute because I'm a hand. And then, not as a consequence of this, but we then don't say, "Oh, well, you know, you're a digestive tract. That's not very helpful. That's not very valuable." It's this ability to say, "I have this hand and I can do this. And because of that, I am able to contribute in this very specific and unique way." And I think it goes both ways. I do think that sometimes we think the hand is better than the foot, for example—the digestive tract is too long to say. So we do that. But I think the sometimes a more insidious trap for some of us is that we say to ourselves, "President Nelson is more special than we are. God loves him more than He loves us." And so, the hand is more valuable, and I'm just a foot, or I'm just a toe. But the problem with that is as soon as we do that, if we think he's better or more valuable in God's eyes, then that means that inherently there's someone that we think we are better than. And that is so insidious, because again, it brings us back to this competition and then we stop creating. And so, I think the answer is to say, "I have this thing and I do it so well, and it means that I can contribute. How will I contribute?" And then looking at another person and saying, "What do they do well? What are they magnificent at? And how, because they're magnificent at that, are they able to contribute? And how might I help them contribute?" Because maybe they don't even realize how wonderful the fact is that they have a foot, how valuable that is. And so how can I help them believe that they can contribute? And that we together, the hand and the foot, can contribute to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man and woman.
Morgan Jones 35:46
I think that's so awesome. Because as you were just wrapping up there, I started thinking, my mind started to flood with people who have allowed me and helped me to see my value as what I am. And I think that that's so key, not only recognizing our own strengths, but helping other people to recognize their strengths as well. So thank you so much for touching on that. Whitney, as we wrap up, I just have one last question for you. And I just, thank you so much for sharing these things. I feel confident that there are people that will listen to this podcast who need to hear the things that you've shared, so thank you. As we wrap up, what does it mean to you, Whitney, to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ?
Whitney Johnson 36:37
Okay, so I knew this question was coming. So I thought about it a little bit. I think—and this is something that I just heard David Butler and Emily Belle Freeman talk about briefly, and so I'm gonna pick up on this—about Peter when the Savior wanted to wash his feet and he was like, "No, you can't wash my feet." And He's like, "You have to let me wash your feet. Otherwise, you're not having any part of me." And then he's like, "Okay, then take my hands, wash my hands, wash my hair." And I think they were saying, or he was saying, in that moment, "I am willing to allow you to touch all aspects of my life, not just my Sunday life, but every part of my life." And this goes back to what I said earlier about Clayton, that the secular, the spiritual, he was allowing the Savior to be in every aspect of his life. And so for me, what does it look like now on a practical basis, day to day? It's a willingness to every day figure out how am I willing to be a witness of God at all times, and in all things in all places. And so, for example, just a few weeks ago, I was doing a LinkedIn Live, it was a Sunday. You know, there were thousands of people listening to it, and I made the choice that I was going to play "God Be With You Till We Meet Again" on the piano. I invited people when it was time to fast, and President Nelson had invited us to fast, I invited people who were listening all over the world to fast with us. It's this idea of tearing down those walls. To quote Ronald Reagan, "Tearing down those walls inside of you and me," tearing down those compartments where we try to cordon off our testimony of Jesus Christ. "All in" is where we pull back the cords, we pull back, and we allow him to every single part of our lives. For me, that's what 'all in' is.
Morgan Jones 38:29
That is beautiful. Thank you so much, Whitney. And thank you again for sharing these things with me.
Whitney Johnson 38:35
Thank you for having me, Morgan. And it was an absolute pleasure.
Morgan Jones 38:40
A huge thank you to Whitney Johnson for joining us on today's show. To learn more about Whitney, visit whitneyjohnson.com, or listen to her podcast "Disrupt Yourself." As always, thank you to Derek Campbell from Mix at Six studios and a big thank you to you for listening. We'll be with you again next week.