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Seven Ways to Reinvent Yourself and Stay Relevant

Seven Ways to Reinvent Yourself and Stay Relevant

Award-Winning Entrepreneur and Creativity Expert Josh Linkner is on a mission to make the world more creative. Named the “Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year” and as a “President Barack Obama Champion of Change” award recipient, Josh both inspires and entertains: in speeches and workshops alike, he provides powerful and practical techniques to jump-start creativity, getting people thinking out of the box in business and at home. Josh recently shared his “seven tips to reinvent yourself” with the Wall Street Journal:

With a rate of change like none other in history, we have come to accept that hugging the status quo is a surefire path to collapse. Success is a temporary condition, occurring in the context of many external factors such as consumer trends, technology advances, and economic shifts. Companies that stagnate even briefly can become extinct in a matter of months; the same logic applies to you and your career.

We all know someone who lives in the past glory of their high school days, and naturally we all know others who are coasting on previous success in their careers. We also undoubtedly know those that have been dislodged, downsized, or marginalized because they failed to reinvent themselves along the way. Ignoring technology advances, social patterns, or new leadership approaches could land you in a most unpleasant condition. Instead, we must all get comfortable being in state of ongoing reinvention. To stay on top, you must put the ‘you’ of six months ago out of business on a continuous basis. Here are seven approaches you can take to proactively drive change instead of having it thrust upon you.

1. Create a Plan Z. We’ve all built a Plan B at one point in our careers. This is the fallback play if things go terribly wrong. As you approach personal reinvention, do the opposite. Plan Z, representing your wildest dreams, will help you explore fresh possibilities. This is the plan where everything goes right; the ideal plan. In this plan, you are building it around the concept that failure is impossible and that your strategy is sure to win.

2. Go trend spotting. With the same focus as a whale watching expedition, go trend spotting. Gather and explore fresh views into emerging patterns and directions. Look for new things taking shape in the world as these inflection points can unlock tremendous opportunities for reinvention.

3. Take inventory. To embrace the reinvention ethos, we must clearly understand our starting point. Assemble a list of your biggest strengths, both hard skills and the activities where you feel like you’re in the zone. Also assemble a list of your soft spots and the actions that you enjoy the least. These two lists will help guide your focus and also help you determine what to avoid.

4. Shine a flashlight on your fears. The biggest blocker of most reinvention efforts is not a lack of skill or opportunity; it’s a lack of courage. We all have fear and doubt, but we can’t let these negative emotions define us. Bring these fears out into the light, and they will likely shrivel once closely examined. As the fear dissipates, your conviction and determination will flourish.

5. Close your eyes. With eyes wide open, we see the world as it currently exists. Eyes-closed thinking forces you to imagine what can be, instead of just what is. Focus on the possibilities instead of restrictions to unlock your inner-artist: the exact mindset you need to transform and disrupt.

6. Learn like it’s your job. In fact, it kinda is. Lifelong learning is key to sustainable success. The simple technique of reading 3-5 hours per week will make an enormous difference in your ability to stay relevant and remain on top. Learn about your industry, competitors, and the world around you. Learn of other industries, art, and social reform. Each insight becomes your tool that can be used as you later solve problems and seek new opportunity.

7. Write your obituary. It may sound morbid, but there’s no more powerful guidepost for reinvention than working backward from your ideal end state. How do you want to be remembered? An incredibly difficult question to be sure, it forces you to prioritize the important things and cut through the pesky problems of the day. The act of physically writing your own epitaph is both cathartic and liberating. It may cause you to take a hard left turn on your journey, but far better to do it now than to wallow in regret years from later with no time left for change.

These challenging times pose both an opportunity and threat. Proactive reinvention is your weapon to fight back. Creative disruption has become the new battlefield, for both companies and individuals. Embrace these seven steps, and you’ll be well on your way to realizing a new, better you. Version 2.0.

Josh Linkner/June, 2014