“If change is the only constant, let’s get better at it” – Pivot by Jenny Blake
Updated: Jun 24, 2021
There's no such thing as a job for life. We’re likely to change what we do in our career several times in our lifetime. Wouldn’t it be great if we had a method for changing, rather than having to react to whatever comes our way? In Pivot, Jenny Blake gives us a toolkit that we can apply over and over again, whenever we need it. In a pivot, she says, we use our existing strengths and knowledge to move ourselves forward to a new place. Although it might seem like we’re starting from scratch, there’s actually quite a lot behind our move. The steps to a successful pivot are…
Plant: What are your values, strengths and interests? This is your strong foundation of what you know already works for you.
Scan: this is the exploration phase. During this time, you'll learn any new skills that you’ll need for your pivot, talk to others, and investigate new opportunities
Pilot: The trial phase. You’re taking steps in the real workld to run low-risk experiments to test your new direction
Launch: The big change. But you’ve already de-risked this by the work that you’ve done in the previous three steps.
Are you an impactor?
Are you an impactor? If so, it's particularly important to have your next pivot in mind. If you’re an impactor, says Jenny Blake, it’s your personal growth that is important to you, rather than what you earn. You get your energy from learning, taking action and tackling new projects, so it’s important to watch out for if you're plateauing. If you end up stagnating, the boredom and anxiety of standing still can be stressful!
Let’s start in the plant stage. It's often tempting to feel that we need to be looking ‘somewhere out there’ for our career idea. However, it’s generally a much more successful strategy to build on a foundation of what's working for you. The risk of looking to far ahead is that your goal feels unachievable. This can lead to you ending up paralysed by fear and not actually making any progress. If you build on what’s already working and what you want to move towards, you also have a more compelling vision of the future than thinking about what you want to move away from. In building your vision of the future, it’s also always a good idea to avoid focussing too much on the ‘hows’ at the outset. Thinking about the practicalities too early can lead to a downward spiral where change feels increasingly overwhelming. Just focus on building the vision first, and leave how you’ll do it till the next step.
Mine your values
The first set of exercises in the book helps you to mine your values. You start from a high-level vision and narrow down to a refined list at the end. Start by thinking about the following questions:
What is the compliment or acknowledgement you hear most often?
If someone were to interview your family and friends, what would they say that you value the most?
Think of a peak time in your life. Describe it with as many vivid words as possible. What makes this memory so powerful? Take yourself back to that time. What do you see? Hear? Taste? Feel? What are you thinking? How do you feel?
What are your unanswered questions at the moment?
What do you want more of in your life at the moment?
What are you most proud of?
Name three people you admire, and list three adjectives for why you chose each person.
It can be a useful exercise to discuss your answers with others. Hearing other peoples’ responses can highlight your own uniqueness. You might be surprised how unique your goals and interests are to you. . Once you’ve come up with this list, see if there are any key words or phrases that jump out at you. Try to group them into similar clusters, adding in any other themes that you feel that are important. Some of the clusters mentioned in the book are:
Connection, community, friends, family, intimacy
Creativity, innovation, ideas, writing, expression
Courage, risk taking, challenge
Gratitude, being present, mindfulness, rest and rejuvenation
Health and wellness routines, sense of balance
Humour, play, recreation
Helping others, making a difference, influence, impact, teaching, service
Learning, growing, exploring, travel, adventure
Mind map it!
The next step is to make a mind map. Write out the values that you’ve started to root out, and use the mind map to help you to think about:
What is important about each value to you?
How is each one most fully expressed in your life?
Here’s the example from the book:
Rank your values
Once you’ve fully mapped out all your values, circle a word or phrase which best represents each value. Have a go at ranking them – you can try writing them on post-it notes and rearranging them. Which leads on to the next step – creating your own personalised values. Here’s one of Jenny Blake’s examples (a little bit full-on, so take with a pinch of salt!!) Ride the wild tiger – Live big! Take risks. Do things that make me uncomfortable, that challenge what I think is possible. There is no saddle, there are no reins. Enjoy and adjust to the crazy ups, downs and surprises that life throws my way
Make them obvious
Finally, put up your values sentences where you can see them, and constantly be reminded of them. They are now your scorecard against which you can assess your decisions. Review them whenever you have a difficult decision – how do your options rank against them?