April Rinne has a story that is simultaneously heartbreaking and inspiring, which also enabled her to build a flux mindset: an essential skill for long-term success.
More than 25 years ago, when I was in college, I was 20 and studying overseas, halfway around the world. I got a phone call right at the end of that year. Both of my parents were killed in a car accident, and it happened out of the blue. When they died, needless to say, my whole life flipped upside down. It wasn't just how do I rebuild my family, but it was how do I deal with my grief and anxiety? What do I do about my career?
Regardless of how old we are, the loss of a parent is one of our most painful experiences. No matter how many books we read or podcasts we listen to; I doubt we can understand the gravity and this kind of pain until we've experienced it ourselves. But most of us don't imagine we'll lose our parents when we're in our 20's.
In our conversation, she described it as "the hardest thing I've ever been through. But by far the single experience that has shaped who I am."
We're living in a world in flux. The workplace is in flux. Climate is in flux. Organizations are in flux. Careers are in flux. Education, Learning, and schools are in flux. Public health is in flux. Planetary health is in flux. Social cohesion is in flux. Financial markets are in flux. Weather patterns are in flux. Family life is in flux. Democracy is in flux. Dreams are in flux. Expectations are in flux. And I have no doubt you could add several more examples to this list. The sheer scope of what's shifting and unknown is simultaneously awe-inspiring and downright daunting. April Rinne, Flux: 8 Superpowers for Thriving in Constant Change
In a world of diminishing permanence, rapid change, and perpetual uncertainty, it's impossible to predict what the world or our lives will look like a month, year, or decade from now. The inevitable crucibles, dead ends, detours, failures, obstacles, and tragedies we will face are the price of admission for being human. "It's not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligence, but the one more responsive to change," said Charles Darwin.
The Flux Mindset
We become responsive to change by developing what April Rinne calls The Flux Mindset.
The flux mindset is an ability to see all change, whether it's "good or bad, expected or unexpected, whether it's something you opt into, or something you couldn't control, the ability to see all of it as an opportunity to learn and to grow and to improve. – April Rinne
None of us expected to find ourselves living through a global pandemic that would disrupt every aspect of our lives. And nobody in their right mind would opt into being quarantined or stuck at home.
But as Scott Galloway writes in his book Post Corona, "in any crisis there is opportunity; the greater and more disruptive the crisis, the greater the opportunities."
In every crisis, obstacle, and problem we face, we can capitalize on an opportunity with a flux mindset.
It's so much more important to me to be productive about the things that matter than to be productive for its own sake. Having more meetings on a given day does not make you more productive in a life purpose kind of way unless those meetings are actually worthwhile. – April Rinne
Ferris Bueller said life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it. In our productivity-obsessed culture, slowing down seems antithetical to accomplishing goals.
Society is telling us that however fast you're running today, you need, and you should run even faster tomorrow, faster next week, next month, next year, all of this effectively for the rest of your life.
But it's impossible to be present for the people and pursuits in our lives that matter when we're burned out, sleep-deprived, and running 100 miles an hour. The paradox of running slower and being productive about what matters is that you get more done in less time.
Society conditions people to get on the achievement treadmill when they're 18 years and they never get off it. They commit to career paths and life plans before figuring out who they are, what they value, and what they find engaging.
People with interesting and meaningful careers never follow a linear path because No Journey Worth Taking is Linear, and straight narrow, well-lit paths never lead to interesting destinations.
The whole life journey is exactly that. It's a journey, and you're going to be learning about it all your whole life. And just when you think you've "figured it out," something else is going to change in your life or in the world. That's not like a big, tragic change necessarily. Knowing that what you're supposed to do is also going to continue to change and evolve over time, just as you do as a human being.
The journey of a life well-lived is a voyage of self-discovery, Innate curiosity, and serendipity. Talk to anyone who is 40, and their life looks nothing like they thought it would when they were 20.
Regardless of how old you are, don't be afraid to take the scenic route or let your ship sail off course. You'll see and experience more than you ever would on a straight, narrow, well-lit path.
As the author Bill Perkins said, " you retire on your memories, " not the bullets on your resume.
We live in a capitalist, consumer-driven society that keeps trapped on a hedonic treadmill feeling like we never are, do, or have enough.
You convince people that they are not enough. The way they become enough is to buy your product or service. We are bombarded with a jillion messages from consumer companies saying, and again,The way they become enough is to buy your product or service. -April Rinne
When you don't have a personal definition of enough, the only answer is more
- More fans
- More money
- More followers
- More status
A personal definition of enough is something you can't necessarily quantify. It comes from within.
I think we are over-indexed on stuff. But we're, under-indexed humanity, but we're, under-indexed on things like respect, self-respect, self-love, trust and time," says April Rinne
If external factors like advertising, media and other people's opinions determine your definition of enough, you'll always feel like you need more to be happy. Measure the amount of meaning you have in your life instead of stuff.
Make The Invisible Visible
Privilege comes in many different flavors, and we would all do a little bit better to sit down and write a lot, write a list of how you have been privileged, even if you may tend to focus on how you have not been. -April Rinne
Our cognitive biases cause us to see the world through a distorted lens. Making the invisible visible is exposing ourselves to different people, cultures, and belief systems.
Most of us are blind and don't even realize it.
Seeing how people from other generations, countries, and walks of life live opens your eyes.
- It took years for me to understand why my parents encouraged me to do something practical with my life. They didn't have the privilege of following their passion and had to choose practical careers if they didn't want to end up in poverty.
- If you live in New York, Silicon Valley, or any other bubble of privilege, visit the middle of the country, and you'll see that we all live in a different America.
If you come from a stable family, receive an education, or don't have to worry about money, you have more privilege than you might realize. When you stop taking privilege for granted, it can become a catalyst for change.
The Career Portfolio is the Future Of Resumes
A portfolio career takes inspiration from these different usages. Portfolios can be sequential (one role or vocation at a time) or simultaneous (multiple roles and activities at once). Career portfolios often create professional niches and lifestyles that are more complete, personalized, modern, adaptable, and personally rewarding than any single role could be. -April Rinne
There's more to all of us than we could express through bullet points on a resume. A resume is a one-dimensional view of your skills, gifts, and talents. A portfolio is a multidimensional view and insurance policy on the future of your career.
When I graduated from business school in 2009, one thing became quite clear to me. A resume isn't tangible evidence of skills. Anybody can say they know how to do something. But concrete evidence outweighs the value of resumes.
- A resume is just a summary of what you've done. There's more to you than your resume. As the venture capitalist Chris Sacca said in a commencement speech, give people a reason to find you interesting.
- Bullets on a resume don't do that. Projects, portfolios, and bodies of work don't just give people a reason to find you interesting. They enable people to see who you are beyond your resume and open the door to interesting people and opportunities.
"With a career portfolio, you intentionally craft a portfolio full of skills and capabilities. Your portfolio evolves and grows over time," says April Rinne. Not only that, a career portfolio makes you resilient to change.
Our ability to adapt to respond to change is no longer just an essential skill for success. It's essential to our survival. If you want to thrive and survive, you need to develop a Flux Mindset.