How to Become a Professional Experimenter

read career
What I’m Reading: The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier
January 22, 2019
read career
What I’m Reading: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni
February 19, 2019

Nearly all of us want to stop everything and “get it all figured out,” before we make any sort of change. This, of course, would be wonderful, right?

But, that’s not how it works.

One of the most difficult aspects of career transformation and transition is acknowledging that you need to start before you feel ready. You need to put some stakes in the ground tentatively long before you have things aligned and figured out. So many of us feel immense resistance to make any sort of change without first creating perfect circumstances that we end up staying stuck as a result.

As an analytical person and an achiever, I totally get it.

I draw comfort from knowing exactly what my goals are, what I’m getting into, and what needs to be done before I act. I excel at lining my ducks up in a row and that is the way I find the courage to make changes that feel scary.

But guess what?

Much to the chagrin of myself and the professionals I coach, I have found that is typically NOT how most career transformations work.

Even though career transition for some make appear to look like a well-planned, linear process, in reality, a process of transformation is a set of experiments with assumptions made, hypotheses drafted and tested, and knowing you will most probably encounter failure and make progress through trial and error over time.

I once heard Danae Ringelmann, co-founder of IndieGoGo, speak on a panel on entrepreneurship and something she said has stuck with me through the years,

“To be a successful entrepreneur, you have to become a professional experimenter.”

This same concept applies to the context of career development and transition. Only by releasing the death grip on the need to make the “right” choice and take the “right” steps does one gain the ability to make meaningful change happen.

I believe this has something to do with the nature of the world now. Things are moving fast and there is so much information available to us making it virtually impossible to be able to evaluate all the data and study and know everything about a choice before we make it. Instead, we need to use the networks and resources around us to harness the power of others and technology to figure a piece out, try something on without commitment, and then see how it feels and shakes out.

The good thing is, you don’t have to do it all at once.

Experimenting means you can do things little by little. Pick something to try. If you want to establish yourself as a thought leader in your field, start writing about it. Right now, we have tools that are nearly free to put our thoughts out there. You can post RIGHT NOW on LinkedIn. If you wish to work at a certain company or in a certain role, introduce yourself to someone in your dream job and find out how they got there. Go to a meeting and conduct yourself in the way you would if you were one or two steps above. If you normally do all the talking, make an effort to keep quiet and listen. If you normally are quiet, speak up. Little things can add up to help build your path to your new career. You don’t have to do it all at once and with great risk. Instead, explore and experiment.

How can you start experimenting today? Let me know!