Learn about the pivot mindset and view a high-level overview of the four-stage method to map what's next.
- When I look back at my career, often when it was time to plan what's next, I remember it feeling like a crisis, but it didn't have to. Looking back, I can see that each opportunity related in some way to the one that followed. When I was in college at UCLA, I was studying political science when I got the opportunity to move to Palo Alto and work as the first employee at a startup company doing political polling. One of my many jobs there was managing our Google AdWords accounts. Well, when I hit a plateau at the startup and was ready for change, I applied to Google to become a product trainer on the AdWords training team.
My role for the first few years at Google involved standing in front of the classroom teaching our customer service reps how to support the AdWords product. As I became more interested in personal growth and coaching and career development, I pivoted from doing AdWords training to doing coaching and career development trainings internally within Google. After 5-1/2 years with the company, I left the coaching and training development teams to do coaching and career development now on my own self-employed as a solopreneur. Although I didn't have the language for it at the time, I can see now and connect the dots looking backward.
These were all career pivots, shifting from one related opportunity into the next based on something that both had in common. I define a career pivot as a methodical change in a new related direction based a foundation of your biggest strengths and what is already working. The biggest mistakes that I made when career change felt like a crisis came because I was so focused on what wasn't working, what I didn't want and what I didn't know. None of that propelled the conversation forward.
Instead, think like a basketball player. When a basketball player stops dribbling, they have one foot firmly planted. That's their plant foot, their source of strength and stability. It's their foundation. Then their pivot foot can help them scan dynamically for passing options around the court. In this course, I'll walk you through the four-stage pivot method to systematically bridge the gaps between where you are now to where you want to end up. I've included a handout for you to download to learn a little bit more about the pivot method and get an overview of the four stages at a glance.
First, you'll plant by creating a foundation from your values, strengths, and interests, and your one-year vision for the future. No, you don't need to know that common interview question, "Where do you see yourself five years from now?" One year out is plenty. The most successful pivot start from a strong base of who you already are, what's already working, and how you'll define success for this next phase of your life. Next, you'll scan by researching new and related skills, talking to others and mapping out potential opportunities.
Scanning is all about people, skills, and projects that are related to what you came up with in the plant stage. Scanning is all about exploration, identifying and plugging knowledge and skill gaps, and having a wide variety of conversations. The third stage is running a series of pilots, small, low-risk experiments to test your new direction. Pilots help you gather real-time data and feedback, allowing you to adjust incrementally as you go instead of relying on big huge blind leaps of faith.
These first three stages of the pivot method repeated as many times as necessary help reduce risk and give you a greater change of success often taking you 80 to 90% of the way toward your goal. Pivoting is not a one and done linear process. Go ahead and repeat, plan, scan, pilot as many times as necessary until you're ready for the fourth stage, launch. Launch is when you pull the trigger on the remaining 10 to 20%. These are the bigger decisions that require commitment even in the face of remaining uncertainty.
This could be things like changing teams at work, becoming a people manager for the first time, or even moving to another office or another country keeping your same role. When startups talk about pivoting, it's often plan B. The initial strategy failed. Now they need to pivot to save the business. But when it comes to our careers, pivot is plan A. Pivots are as much a product of your success as anything else and it means you might just be outgrowing your previous career incarnations. Pivots are not a problem nor a personal shortcoming.
It's often a sign that you've succeeded at your previous role and now you're ready for greater growth and impact.
LinkedIn Learning (Lynda.com) is a PMI Registered Education Provider. This course qualifies for professional development units (PDUs). To view the activity and PDU details for this course, click here.
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- Optimizing your current role
- Identifying your strengths
- Crafting a one-year vision of success
- Making connections to "friendtors" and one-off mentors
- Creating a skill-building game plan
- Identifying small experiments and stretch projects
- Embracing smart risks
- Mapping next moves to make a greater impact