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How I'm building my career: Part Two

It was a hot, sunny day in Shenzhen 2020 and I'd gone to a nearby pool with my friend Laura. She was working with a coach, who had given her a book called 'Designing Your Life' by Dave Evans and Bill Burnett.


"You haven't heard of it? It seems like it would be right up your street" She said as she offered me the book to leaf through.


I held the thick, hard-backed book and quickly scanned the first few chapters.

Using design thinking for your life?! It seemed so obvious and I kicked myself for not thinking of it before.

Laura was right, it WAS right up my street.


I'm not always 100% sure of how people land on my blog and how much they know about me, so here goes….


I'm an engineer and have worked in product development for 20 years now. I've worked for some international companies developing new products for a variety of uses and I revel in taking someone's idea and making it a reality.

In product development we use an innovation framework called Design Thinking which helps you get clear on creating the product which solves the right problem for your end user.


This was the first time I'd heard of the concept of using Design Thinking for your life though.


We cut to one year later when I had decided to train to be a coach. The Designing Your Life book was very much in the back of my mind and I'd since bought my own copy and started working my way through it as my life had gotten flipped turned upside down in the previous few months.


As part of our coach training we had to develop our own coaching framework plus write a paper which was in our field of interest. PROTO was my framework and Design Thinking Coaching was very much front and centre of what I wanted to do.


Whilst design thinking isn't a new concept, the vast majority of us don't really have an understanding of what it means and how it could benefit us, which is exactly how my podcast started, feel free to tune into the 26 episodes already available (and more to come later in 2024!).


Rather than waxing lyrical, getting comfy and pulling out the history books, the concept I want to focus on here, is Prototyping.


This has genuinely been how I have pushed my own career forward in a new and interesting way.


I'm a perfectionist in recovery, so I know how scary it can be to get off the conveyor belt of life and try something new, unless I was 100% sure it was the right thing to do.


I guess in my situation I didn't so much step off the conveyor belt as opposed to was rudely thrown off it, leaving me with new choices and an opportunity to try something completely different.


If you're unfamiliar with the concept of prototyping, let me give you some context.

The Cambridge Dictionary actually provides a very technical perspective, so this one from TWI global is a bit better.


"Prototyping is the process of designing a mock-up of a product or process ahead of creating a final design. Prototyping can include various stages or iterations, allowing designers, product owners, and other stakeholders to visualise how a product will look and feel, as well as how users will interact with it."


What if we swapped out some words for the principle in this blog…..

Prototyping is the process of designing a mock-up of a way of living or working ahead of deciding of if it is good for you. Prototyping can include various trials, allowing you and those around you to visualise how a small change will look and feel.


And then it starts to get interesting, right?


Over the past few years I have tested several prototypes;

  • Opening my own business

  • Running said business full time

  • Trialing new coaching programs

  • Participating in mentoring programs for individuals and businesses

  • Moving in with someone

  • Working full time with a side hustle

  • New tools to support my mental health

  • Running a creative meetup

  • Living abroad


Some of you might be thinking 'So….you're just trying things?'

And…. Well yes, that's pretty much it, but I'm trying it with intention and with reflection afterwards.


Using prototyping, I've gotten clearer on what works for me and what doesn't, what I want to keep and let go of and what are the general patterns in what makes me fulfilled.


It's also helped me with my perfectionist tendencies as there's an element of disconnect from the overall outcome. 'It was only a prototype' will get me much further forward than 'I tried something and it really didn't work out', which will set me into a spiral of self-criticism and fear to try something else.

I've noticed this with clients also; there is an immediate sense of relaxation and excitement to try something new, with a twist.


So, rather than looking for a completely new job, embarking on a new suite of training or simply just throwing it all away to start again. Ask yourself the following question;

"What gaps do I have that I want to fill?"

"What are other ways for me to try this new area/industry/thing, that could be smaller in scale?"

"How do I feel now vs how do I want to feel afterwards?"


Prototyping avoids the upfront disruption, costs or risk with making a new change and it could be that you potentially avoid going down a path that doesn't serve you.


My prototype of running SharpMinds in it's current state taught me that I need it to be more and I'm not quite ready to walk fully away from the product development world. It also taught me that, when I faced the reality of looking for stable work, I knew that I didn't want to lose SharpMinds entirely. Not because I have sunk costs or have invested time in it, but because it's something I believe that the world needs more of.


These are important lessons to have in your life and prototyping can, slowly but surely, help you reach an overall better decision for your life and career.



If you are curious to know more about how prototyping could help you in your career, it is an integral part of my Group Mentoring Programme, which runs 3 times a year.

In 6 months, transition from career confusion to clarity as you navigate your industry with confidence and purpose. Our empowering mentoring program offers personalized guidance and exclusive insights, unleashing your potential for meaningful progress.

It's a low cost group program allowing you to connect with likeminded individuals, providing accountability and support.

DM me to have a chat about it, today, the next enrollment closes on April 26th 2024.












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