We identify who we are by testing reality. – Herminia Ibarra
While written for people who looking to change their career trajectory, the book “Working Identity; Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career” by Herminia Ibarra is a great read for those interested in changing any part of their life.
In the book, Ibarra provides compelling examples to support that the way we make decisions is by experimenting.
Assessments, reading books, journaling, talking to others – all of these help us consider our choices. But when the rubber meets the road, we have to actually, physically, and literally test our options. The experiment doesn’t have to be an exact mini-me version of the option, but it does need to have enough similarity that we can try it on for size.
We might experiment by writing a blog to find that the idea of a writing a book actually makes sense.
We might experiment by volunteering at a food panty to learn that the social justice of eliminating hunger is really important to us.
We might experiment by signing up for a wine (or cupcakes) and canvas night, only to find that we have a deep desire to create by painting on a regular basis.
We might test drive a leadership role by taking on a project to create a new recruitment process.
As Ibarra describes, these sorts of experiments allow us to ‘flirt with the possibilities‘ of change and test drive a new role. No life-long commitment needed, just a willingness to get in and give it a try.
We know that transition requires change. As William Bridges describes “Every transition begins with an ending. We have to let go of the old thing before we can pick up the new one – not just outwardly, inwardly.”
This puts us in a weird space. We’ve changed enough to know that we can’t go back. But we’re not exactly sure where we are supposed to land.
Experimenting helps test those new landing spots with one foot before completely jump from the old into the new.