During this challenging pandemic era, many have had to make quick decisions in facing the unexpected—sudden turns we’ve needed to embrace in order to stay afloat emotionally, financially and professionally. And now more than ever, our ability to pivot and embrace constant change is the key to thriving in work and life.
To learn more about how to excel amid constant change, I was excited to catch up with April Rinne, a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and ranked one of the world’s “50 Leading Female Futurists” by Forbes. A change navigator, Rinne helps individuals and organizations reshape their relationship with change, uncertainty, and a world in flux.
She’s a trusted advisor, speaker, investor, adventurer (100+ countries), insatiable handstander, and author of the new book Flux: 8 Superpowers for Thriving in Constant Change. Her personal story is inspiring, and what she’s experienced in early life (check that out here) helped her build a powerful foundation for successfully navigating uncertainty. Today Rinne helps businesses like Airbnb, Nike, the World Bank, and nations like Canada, India, and Ireland manage their relationships with change.
Here’s what Rinne shares:
Caprino: April, what is the ‘Flux Mindset’ you explore in your book, and why does it matter today? How does one develop this way of thinking?
Rinne: A Flux Mindset is the state of mind that thrives in a world in constant change and flux. It’s the ability to see all change whether you want it, expect it, or like it or not—as an opportunity, not a threat, and to harness its silver linings.
A Flux Mindset matters today because the future is not more stable, more predictable, or more certain. Tomorrow means more uncertainty, more unknowns, and more flux. A Flux Mindset helps you reshape your relationship to “certain uncertainty” and form a healthy, productive outlook for what’s ahead.
The first step in developing this way of thinking is to acknowledge that your relationship to change can improve. This requires getting clear on the kinds of change you struggle with, and why. From there, it’s time to strengthen the 8 Flux Superpowers.
Caprino: What are these 8 Flux Superpowers that we need to attend to?
Rinne: The essential superpowers are:
Run Slower: To thrive in a fast-paced world, slow your own pace. We are taught that fast equals success, but slowing down actually gives us more time, reduces stress and burnout, enhances our productivity, and leads to wiser decisions.
See What’s Invisible: When life feels blurry or the future is uncertain, shift your focus from what’s visible to what’s invisible. Seeing what’s on the periphery and in the empty space—where most people don’t look—also leads to fresh perspectives and new solutions.
Get Lost: In the landscape of change, getting lost is how you find your way. Seeking out the unfamiliar, stretching beyond our comfort zone and orienting without a map actually boosts creativity and resilience.
Start With Trust: When trust seems broken, assume good intent. When change hits, mistrust dooms us. I often call trust the “super-superpower” because it fuels everything else!
Know Your “Enough:” Humans are obsessed with “more,” yet it’s mostly making us miserable. When you constantly strive for more, you will never find, have, or be “enough.” But when you know your enough, and that you are enough, you will immediately begin to find abundance.
Create Your Portfolio Career: For success and satisfaction in a world in flux, treat your career as a portfolio to curate rather than a path to pursue. Cultivate experiences and skills rather than just pursuing a singular path.
Be All the More Human (and Serve Other Humans): In a world with more automation and robots, your key to thrive is to be even more human—and use your humanity to help others.
Let Go of the Future: For a better future, we must often first let it go. This is the opposite of giving up; it’s about what we can and can’t control, and how we unleash our best selves.
Note that each of the 8 superpowers is counter-intuitive in some way. They challenge us to think hard about our values, priorities, and what really matters. They give us clarity for a world in flux.
Caprino: April, I’m intrigued by “Seeing What’s Invisible” – how can we cultivate this specific superpower to navigate uncertainty?
Rinne: Anyone can learn to see things that have long gone “unseen,” by peeling back layers of change to reveal what we’re taught to see vs. what we fail to see. As a futurist, I explore what organizations, people and entire sectors don’t really see. It’s a universal phenomenon: every culture, organization, and person has been trained to believe that some things matter and other things do not. No one sees the full picture.
When change hits, these blind spots and narrow focus can wreak havoc. They disorient and confuse us.
With ongoing uncertainty and rapid change, it is essential for us to move beyond what we can see and find inspiration and insights in what we can’t.
Caprino: What does it really mean to “see what’s invisible?” How do we do it? Can you share an example?
Rinne: Sure! As children, we’re taught to look straight ahead and focus: on a goal, destination, or achievement. As young adults, we are expected to track into careers in one domain. Adults also track into social circles that keep us inside our comfort zones. In each case, some things are “seen,” and the rest is not.
Seeing what’s invisible means learning about those things that have been hidden from you: What do you see when you venture off the beaten path? What happens if you learn about people, business models, or beliefs different from your own? These are all “invisible” unless you learn and choose to see them.
One example is invisible value. When we talk about “value” today, most people think in dollars and cents. But our most valuable assets—like trust, love, integrity, goodwill, and joy—can’t be monetized. So while we may “see” their benefits, we don’t actually value them as we should. When we learn to see what’s invisible, we find that not only does invisible value surround us, but we can benefit by seeing the full humanity of others, not just their material or financial assets.
Caprino: How can seeing what’s invisible advance organizations, businesses, and careers?
Rinne: When we learn how to see what’s invisible, it spurs creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship.
Keep in mind that any organization is simply a collection of people. So helping team members develop their Flux superpowers means boosting organizational culture and resilience.
Businesses in the sharing economy tend to “see” value that’s invisible to others. Take Airbnb, which saw value in empty rooms in people’s homes that hotels didn’t “see.” Its successful business model enabled it to leapfrog incumbents by unlocking this value.
Likewise, many HR professionals focus only on the skills traditionally presented on resumes. Yet the qualities that define truly extraordinary talent and foster a healthy, thriving work culture—like empathy and generosity—are largely invisible in the recruiting and engagement process. Why not make these elements more visible?
Caprino: Why do you think we often don’t see so many things, in life and the world? How have the past 18 months changed this?
Rinne: By and large, we are trained to see certain things (and not others) as part of our upbringing. These “scripts” include how you define success and how you earn trust. They include your assumptions and expectations, and they reflect the norms and narratives that shape the world you expect to inhabit.
The past 18 months have helped us to start seeing what we’ve been missing. We’ve learned that what’s truly valuable—one’s health and safety, compassion, and trusted relationships—can’t be bought. We’ve learned that life is about more than work, and we have a lot of healing to do.
Caprino: You teach people about the importance of creatinga “portfolio career,” which is something that in my career coaching work with professionals I highly encourage as well. How have you found it helps people reinvent their careers and even navigate the “Great Resignation”?
Rinne: A portfolio career is a new way of seeing your professional development and success. To thrive in a future of work that’s bursting at the seams with uncertainty and transition, all talent should start thinking about their career as a portfolio to curate, rather than a singular path to pursue (or a ladder to climb).
Most people think of portfolios in terms of finance, business, or art. The portfolio career applies this concept to professional development. It recognizes that the future of work is uncertain: There is more that we don’t know about it than we do know. There is no guarantee of any particular job or career.
A portfolio approach helps you mix-and-match your portfolio in ways that people with a traditional “climb the ladder” mindset don’t see. Curating a portfolio career means having a diversified professional identity that’s customized to your skills, your priorities, and your life.
What’s more, all talent already has a portfolio. Many people simply don’t realize it. It’s exciting and empowering to start figuring out what’s in yours.
To learn more, visit https://fluxmindset.com.
Kathy Caprino, M.A. is a career and leadership coach, speaker, educator, and author of The Most Powerful You: 7 Bravery-Boosting Paths to Career Bliss. She helps professionals build their most rewarding careers through her Career & Leadership Breakthrough programs, Finding Brave podcast, and her new Most Powerful You course. Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website or some of my other work here.