Can you Pivot? – Part 2

Thinking about making a change to your career is almost sure to stoke anxiety. It would for anyone. After all, you’ll be starting from scratch and losing your current regular paycheck. To deal with this fear while you’re planting your pivot, you’ll need to evaluate your current situation; this is the second part of planting. It implies considering how your current strengths will help you move on and up.

The result is that you won’t be starting over with a blank slate, as you’ll know exactly where your strengths lie. Ask yourself: Are there any specific challenges I’m attracted to? What energizes me? Sometimes, your career portfolio can provide the answer. Other times, you might have to look back a bit.

You can also decrease the stress involved in change by obtaining a better understanding of your financial situation. That way, you’ll know when you can afford to take a big risk and – just as critically – when you can’t.

Once you’ve got a good idea of the foundations required for a pivot, then it’s time to scan for opportunities. Some people think what’s needed at this stage is a career mentor, someone to dispense expert advice in the long term. But it can be a laborious task finding someone to take on this time-consuming role. But no worries, it’s actually better to work with a series of one-off mentors and experts.

In many cases, these advisory sessions morph into longer-term mentorships.

The author herself is a case in point. When she was beginning as a career coach and speaker, she didn’t look for a long-term mentor. Instead, she called up Susan Biali, an expert in coaching and speaking, and asked for a one-off conversation. During the call, Biali offered to help her on a regular basis, even suggesting they check in each month. They’ve actually kept in contact to this day.

If you think of these conversations as one-off interactions, that’ll park questions relating to long-term mentorship. You won’t feel you’re pushing your mentor for more time in the future.

Aside from these one-off mentors, you should also build up a mastermind group of friends and peers with similar interests, who you can ask whenever questions come to mind.

Your mastermind group might include friends who have similar goals to you. The author and her friend Alexis Grant are just like this. While they were both writing their books, they made sure to be in daily contact to keep each other on track by sharing experiences with each other.

But what do you do when you don’t have friends or colleagues who can help? Thankfully the internet is a savior here. There are loads of sites and communities you can ask. The author believes her own ten-week courses are just the ticket for keeping your momentum up.

However you choose to find your support network, the general lesson is clear: the relationships you foster at the start of your pivot are sure to help you throughout the entire pivoting process. We all know those people who are a bit too passive in their outlook; they sit around waiting for a miracle to happen.

If you really want to switch things up, however, you need to actively scan for new breaks. And the most successful pivoters are those who look for opportunities related to their strengths.

Another way you can create your own opportunities is by doing what’s known as platform-building, which can help make your desired direction known to all.

You’ve identified your next big move, and you’ve done it by recognizing your values and finding helpful resources. Now it’s time to test out your vision in the third stage of the four-step method: piloting.

The idea here is to seek out ways to pilot small-scale versions of your larger vision. That way, you can determine through experimentation whether your pivot is actually something that thrills you. Based on the results, you can adjust your methods according to your strengths and goals.

Sometimes you should pilot in stages, which means incrementally increasing the risk in your experiments. That way, you don’t enact new changes all at once. Once you’ve evaluated your values for planting your pivot, scanned for opportunities and connections and piloted your putative move, the only thing left to do is launch.

But for some people, fear of failure can keep them from actualizing their pivot in the first place. Don’t get caught in this trap. Identify specific launch criteria to determine when to set your plan in action. You’ll need to engage in some basic troubleshooting and be prepared.

More often than not, the anxieties involved in launching are rooted in a fear of failure. Just remember, though, that a good pivot also involves diverging from an original concept, especially if it’s clear that things aren’t going to plan. That’s not failure – that’s adaptation. Ultimately, failures are just opportunities for another pivot. And if you feel stuck then just go back to those first three steps: plant, scan and pilot. And that’s how you pivot!

What’s so great about the pivot method is that its usages aren’t limited to those pivoting into new careers. In fact, managers can employ it within their own companies. Although managers rarely discuss career mobility with their employees, a recent Inc. survey found that 51 percent of CEOs identified their biggest challenge as “attracting and retaining skilled employees.”

If you’re a manager, it’s up to you to begin talking to your employees about pivoting. That’s how you keep good staff. But don’t discuss with your employees what they could or should being doing. Instead, use the basics of the pivot method: lead open-ended discussions using the simple question, “what’s next?”

On top of those efforts in leading a general discussion, you should offer real opportunities for your employees. You can also offer career programs to your employees.

The supermarket chain Whole Foods does just this. It has job-specific certification programs that its employees can take, such as the training for the American Cheese Society’s Certified Professional Exam. These programs mean Whole Foods employees can gain skills and pivot to work in specialist sections within the company’s supermarkets.

Just remember: be creative! It’s your aim to foster an environment where employees neither stagnate nor quit. It’s up to you to provide opportunities for them to pivot internally based on their skills and interests. In the end, it will be the company that benefits.

When seeking a career shift, begin by identifying your values, strengths and situation. If you then take small steps toward your goal and run experiments to test your way, pivoting can become not only manageable, but a way to keep your career exciting and dynamic. In today’s job climate, pivoting provides you with the mentality you need to adapt to your surroundings, while fostering connections and opportunities.

Check out my related post: Value Proposition Design: How to Create Products and Services Customers Want – Business Book Review 6

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