Reshaping Our Relationship With Change: Living A World In Flux With April Rinne
The world is in constant change, movement, and uncertainty. People live life in flux, and it's all about how you adapt and bring meaning to your life. In this episode, Tony Martignetti discusses how uncertainty and change can affect your perspective in life with author, adventurer, and change navigator April Rinne. April talks about important parts of her life that have brought her to a greater understanding of the human condition and the lessons she learned living her life in flux. Tune in and be inspired by April's experiences and message.
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Reshaping Our Relationship With Change: Living A World In Flux With April Rinne
It is my honor to introduce my guest, April Rinne. She is a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and she was ranked by Forbes as 1 of the Top 50 Leading Female Futurists. She is a change navigator and helps individuals and organizations rethink and reshape their relationships with change, uncertainty, and a world in flux. She’s a trusted advisor, speaker, investor, and adventurer in 100 plus countries. She lives in Portland, Oregon, when she’s not doing handstands around the world. She’s the author of the amazing new book, Flux: 8 Superpowers for Thriving in Constant Change.
It is truly a pleasure to welcome you to the show, April.
Thank you. I’m thrilled to be here.
It’s going to be so great to unwind your story of what brought you to this amazing place in the world. I can’t wait to hear some of these little stories about handstands across the world and what have you, but I love this concept of Flux. The book has earned its spot on the top list of my readers are leaders’ books. I’m thrilled to have you on my show and dig into your story.
Thank you, as am I.
On the show, what we usually do is we help you to tell your story to what’s called flashpoints. These are points in your journey that have ignited your gifts into the world, and as you were telling your story, we will pause along the way and see what is showing up. With that, I’m going to turn it over to you and you can start wherever you like.
When it comes to Flux and how did I write the book, and I figured we’d get to that at some point, I usually take people back. I start now, and then I unwind the clock and peel back the layers. Given that you framed this as flashpoints, I’m going to do the opposite, and I’m going to start it at not the total beginning but that flashpoint that candidly, I would not have written the book without it. I would never have imagined back then that I would write a book many years later, but that’s when I started peeling back the layers of this onion.
Constant change, movement, uncertainty, and the world in flux. What do you do when you don’t know what to do? Where did that begin? Where did my interest in that theme or concept start? I like to say that my baptism or my entry into flux began many years ago. The book, while it took the better part of the last couple of years to write, it has been the better part of the decades in the making in terms of the research, thinking about it, living it, and observing it, but when I was in college, both of my parents died in a car accident, and that was that moment.
I was twenty years old, and all of a sudden, every single part of my life changed. The future I thought I was going to have flipped upside down, and that was this flashpoint. There was the life before my parents died, and then there was the life after my parents died. I was still me but everything changed and that was everything from how do I rebuild my family, how do I deal with my grief and anxiety, and what does this mean for my career.
We've all had this experience of getting to know people differently and then wanting to show up differently or improve things about how we not just relate to others but how we relate to change as well.
I had to grow up, and I had to become self-sufficient really fast. I had this irrational belief that developed afterward that I didn’t have long to live. My brain was trying to figure out what had gone on and how was I going to make my way through, so it developed this belief that I didn’t have long to live either, knowing that I was healthy, but still, you have this like, “This could happen to anybody,” which led me to make very different decisions about what matters and what doesn’t.
The way I like to frame it now, many years later, is that I had the equivalent of a midlife crisis when I was twenty. I didn’t ask for it, but the questions I started asking at that pretty young age are very similar to the questions that I see people much later asking about, what’s the purpose of my life? Have I lived a life of meaning and fulfillment? Have I made the right choices or priorities? I did that at age twenty, which had a profound effect on how the rest of my life turned out. I would start there.
That’s a quintessential flashpoint in the sense that at twenty years old, what do you know about life? Not much.
Twenty is an interesting age, and I love this because I was away at college. I was overseas, so I got a phone call halfway around the world. This is the introductory story to the book as well, which is my sister who didn’t expect to find me and I would pick up the phone, so she had not rehearsed anything. She had just gotten the news herself, so she was in shock, but she knew she needed to let me know because we were the only two siblings. I picked up the phone and she was like, “Are you sitting down?” If you have that, “Are you sitting down?” That’s not right.
I remember having this thought of, if something happened to mom, dad would be calling. If something happened to dad, mom would be calling. If something happened to her, either of them was calling, but there were no circumstances under which she would have been calling me, so you have this unraveling, “Whoa.” Back at the age of twenty, I was living overseas. I knew how to care for myself in the day-to-day. I had been working from a very young age, so I knew the basics of how to put one foot in front of the other, but at the same time, at age twenty, I had very little clue about how the world works and what’s my place in it.
I have given a lot of thought in the year. Had I been three years younger or three years older. Three years younger, I still would have been at home, more or less, a dependent. It would have been disruptive in a whole different way. Three years later, I would have already started some kind of career. I probably would have had to ask to take time off a job, but I was in college, where I was in this limbo. It felt like swinging between two branches and had that like, “What do you want to change?” I had the ability even then. I was like, “Would I go to grad school? Would I grieve? Would I get a job? Would I travel?” It was this blank slate.
The fact that you’re even going to school overseas speaks to the maturity that you have. There are not a lot of people that take those risks. I think your parents had set you up for success in many ways.
The global piece has been there from the very beginning, and I bet this will come up again in this conversation. Both of my parents were educators, so education was always important, and they also loved to travel. It wasn’t about money, that’s for sure, and we can come back to this as well. I was taught I can make a dollar last forever. The two things we were allowed to spend money on were education and travel, so not the tangibles, but the intangibles.
My dad was a cultural geographer, which meant that he studied the migratory patterns of people, plants, animals, and cultures, so global diversity was in my blood from birth. I love maps and travel. I wanted an international career, away at school and that adventure, so that part was there and my mom, who also shared these loves. They set me up for a global perspective, recognize and fight for diversity as our strength, see humans as fundamentally equal, and that everyone has integrity and dignity. That’s what I thought. That’s the Kool-Aid I thought all kids were taught to drink. Only later did I learn, not at all.
At the same time, my mom had significant mental health challenges. I grew up in a household with constant anxiety, depression, and I can now say borderline bipolar. It wasn’t diagnosed or even discussed back then, but it was very fraught. It was also a childhood that was wracked by anxiety and a lot of irrational fears too. Some were founded, some irrational, so being set up for success was a mixed bag.
What I can say is my parents did the best they could with what they had, which I think all parents do but do not all parents have a full cup. Much of what I struggled with came from what my parents were struggling with too, and I have a lot of respect for that as an adult. There are parts of my childhood that I would’ve changed, but they all fed into who I became.
It’s very well said. There’s an element of that environment that shapes you, good or bad. It is something that you can evolve from because you can change your environment as you move through life, but ultimately, that foundation that they set puts you at that age of twenty reacting to this tragic event.
I was going to put on how did I react. They had prepared me with that sense of seeing the good in everybody. After they died, I had to reach out to other people to survive. At the same time, though, the first funeral that I ever went to or the first death I ever experienced was my parents. I realized how lucky I am for that. My grandparents were living. I had a lot of allergies growing up, so we could have outdoor animals, but I never became close to an animal because of my allergies, which, again, double-edged sword. I wish I could have, but it also meant I didn’t have that death of a pet.
I didn’t know what death was in a visceral way, and then I went from 1 to 100. As much as anyone can prepare for what life has in store, I don’t think many people prepare for something like, one day, you have never been to a funeral. The next day, both of your parents are going to die. It’s like I jumped in at the deep end without a life jacket, but also, I didn’t have much choice, so I would learn how to swim, tread water, and ultimately jump off a diving board as well.
Before we move to the next chapter along this journey, did you find yourself becoming closer to your sister in this time because she was someone to latch on to?
Yes, but also very difficult. I have such immense love and respect for my sister because we were both pretty young. She’s four years older than me. She had graduated from college, but she was taking a couple of years to work, save some money, then go to grad school. She was still young but was a bit more independent than I was in that regard. Here’s the thing. We were not close. Our parents didn’t do this intentionally. I think it happens sometimes, but we were set up to compete with one another, not in a healthy way, so there wasn’t a close sister bond.
We have the right to love and be loved.
We liked and knew each other, but I had been studying overseas all year, and we had not talked. That shows you we were not that close, and then all of a sudden, our parents die, and we’re put under incredibly stressful circumstances to make some hard decisions. We’re both dealing with our grief, anxiety, and challenges having nothing to do with our parents in our own lives. Where do you start? This is where I have to credit my sister. At age 24, she had emotional maturity and wisdom. I do not know how she did it. I do not possess this wisdom even now.
She came to me and said, “We have to re-establish our relationship, and we have to figure out what it looks like moving forward because it’s not what it was before. We are all we have left in terms of the immediate family.” Many years later, we both have extended families. We’re married, and we have families of choice. That part has really blossomed, but back then, it was this sense of like, “This is ground zero. We have to rebuild.” This is a fun anecdote. I was overseas, she was in Portland, Oregon, which is where I’m joining you from, and the accident happened in Colorado.
We were both called back to Colorado, which is where my parents lived. Neither of us wanted to be there because it was tragic and stressful. We weren’t there by choice. We were there because of life. She said, “We have to figure this out. I’m going back to Portland, and you need to come with me, but I’m not your mom. You can’t live with me. You have to get your feet on the ground. You have to walk through the fire yourself. I can’t do that for you. You’re not going to grow unless you do, but we need to be close enough so that we can see each other. We can grieve and we can process. We have to get through this together.”
What ended up happening was I took a term off of college because I was in no state to go try to study. I was a wreck. I took a semester off, and I moved to Portland, Oregon. It was the deepest and darkest chapter of my life, even to this day, but it did exactly what she knew it needed to do, which was to start repairing how to get to know each other. The side story there is that knowing almost no one, we had a couple of cousins who lived here but didn’t really know anybody in Portland.
I fell head over heels in love with the city and vowed to myself that someday, I would return to live in some capacity, and lo and behold, that’s where I’m dialing in from now. It’s a long-winded story, but the question about my sister, I can say that she’s an amazing human being. It was not easy right off the bat. It was fraught, but we learned to grow. It taught me so much about not just sister relationships or friendships, but how you connect and restore relationships that have been pretty battered and bruised.
When there’s a need for connection, you can make things happen. It’s about seeing each other from different points of view. I always think about that now, especially with connections that have been so fraught through the pandemic and a lot of challenges. It’s a very different scenario, but similar in the sense that people are reconnecting for the first time, and we have to get to know each other on different terms from what we used to be.
I think I found that both during lockdown when all of a sudden I get to know you not through a Zoom screen but you’re in a very different place. This relates directly to Flux as well. I didn’t write the book in 2020 or the pandemic, but I walked into the best validation I could hope for my ideas, which is you’re getting to know somebody when, not that it did this for everybody but to some degree, you have that sense of the world is slowing down or stopping at least from a mobility perspective.
All of a sudden, you get to know people differently, and you start to cherish things that you took for granted before. I won’t call it re-opening or hybrid. It’s a bunch of different things, but this whole like, “How do I want to show up?” I’ve had this experience. We’ve all had this experience of getting to know people differently and then wanting to show up a little bit differently or wanting to improve things about how we do, not just relate to others but how we relate to change as well. We’re still writing that part of the book. I don’t think there’s one way to do it or one answer. It’s an incredibly exciting time to be navigating this stuff.
I want to get back into your story in a moment, but there is one thing that you maybe think of, and I think it’s this element of wanting to cherish things more when you are at a loss or you’re not in those places where you can experience in the same way, you start to cherish them more like adventure. You and I are adventure bosses.
As you said at the beginning of the intro when you get out and have an adventure, it’s like the little things where you’re like, “I’m experiencing this for the first time in a long time, and it feels even richer. The colors and conversations are more vibrant than they ever were ever before,” because when you go without it for a period of time, it feels as though you are craving that experience again. It’s beautiful.
At a deeper level, the right to even be here isn't something that is inherent in the human condition. It's a huge gift.
I think of this in two ways. One is exactly what you’ve described. It’s this gratitude and appreciation a thousandfold, and I think a lot of this is because of my parents’ death. It has been a very long time since I’ve taken anything for granted, whether that’s my health, a roof over my head, or love. Nonetheless, I will say, I didn’t think I wouldn’t get to travel for a year and a half. I’ve taken a few flights now. I was masked up and took only domestic, but the joy I felt. Everyone is talking about it how airports are depressing now, and the lines are longer. I’m like, “True,” but I was like floating as I walked down the terminal to be back there.
You might have experienced this too. I took for granted that I knew exactly how to pack. To me, it’s like second nature. You know your drill, and you got the whole system set up, but then I was like, “I have to learn all that over again.” I forgot the most basic things on my trip. I didn’t need a checklist before, and now, I realize I probably need a checklist.
It was stupid stuff that I should never forget. That was one of them and then the other piece that I want to put on this around the gratitude and the not taking for granted is that I have thought this for a while, but the last couple of months have really brought it home. It is this sense that we always have been and always are on borrowed time. None of us has any right to be here.
This gets a little provocative. Let me give you another flashpoint. I remember when I had this thought for the first time years ago. There was this like, “That sounds horrible,” and then it’s like, “It sounds uplifting. Hang on here. What’s going on?” It’s that I fundamentally believe all humans have their fundamental human rights. We have the right to have dignity, integrity, and respect. We have the right to work. Not that we have a guarantee of a job or promotion, but we have the right to use our skills, develop our skills, and use our efforts. We have the right to love and be loved.
We have all of these rights as humans with just the fact of being human, but if we peel back the layer of that onion with one more layer, none of us has the right to be here, to begin with. It’s this sense of borrowed time. We have all of these rights once we exist, but the fact of our existence is such a miracle, a stroke of magic, and good luck was the part I never want to forget to be grateful for that. I can talk about all the things like rights, privileges, and responsibilities, but at a deeper level, the right to even be here isn’t something that is inherent in the human condition. It’s a huge gift. I feel like that became clear in the last couple of years also, but in general, that’s how I want to live my life.
It reminds me of the stoic philosophy around memento mori. It’s remembering that you may die tomorrow and that you have to see your life being a fleeting moment in time. All the other things that you described, I think, are so powerful because I truly believe in all that. There are rights while you’re here, but the fact that you’re here is a gift that you have no control of.
It’s interesting not to go back to the story of my parents, but it is true. This shows up in quite a few places in the book where back then this like, “What do I do when I don’t know what to do? Everything has changed. Where do I start?” The core question that grounded me, rooted me, and allowed me to move forward, but through which I filtered pretty much everything, but it goes back to this irrational fear that I had about I might not have long to live either, but I would always ask, “If I were to die tomorrow, what would the world need me to do today?”
I remember in the immediate aftermath asking that because I was like, “I think I am going to die tomorrow.” Not that I was going to, but my brain was already there. That ended up being helpful in some ways to walk through that fire. I think this is due in some non-trivial part to my parents. It wasn’t, “If I were to die tomorrow, what does my ego need me to do today? What sounds fun to do now?” It was always, “What does the world need me to do? How can I be of service to others? How can I put humanity at the center?”
If anything, I, and respectfully you and anyone who’s reading this, we are all specs in a much larger vortex of humanity, stars, and universes. I’m going a little bit woo-woo here, but that grounded me. It was never about me. It was, “How do I relate to this bigger thing that will continue to exist even after I’m gone?” There’s a weird comfort in that. Knowing that you can contribute to something that will exist when you’re not here, make that your legacy or your contribution.
I feel like I could talk to you pretty much all day about this conversation. Tell me more about any other flashpoints along the way that you want to bring to light as you moved through your twenties. What happened next? How did you get into the work that you’re doing, and what brought you to where you are now?
That first flashpoint was not easy. I can honestly say that even many years later, that one was such the defining moment, but there were many others along the way. Thankfully, they didn’t have the same level of tragedy, but they formed me in different ways. I see personal growth and professional development are so interconnected, but there is one that keeps coming to mind, and it shows up in the flux superpowers. It shows up in more and more conversations, particularly if I think about the great resignation, how people are feeling, and where do we head with all this.
One of the eight flux superpowers is what I call create your portfolio career, which is all about seeing your career more as a portfolio that you would curate like an artist or an investor would rather than a singular line or a singular path to pursue. Rather than a career path, look at it as a career portfolio. It’s gaining lots of traction not because of all the change and uncertainty but also because people are like, “I want more meaning and purpose in my life.” Going back to the question, I’m glad I seated the question about, “If I were to die tomorrow, what does the world need me to do today?” That guided my professional decisions.
Shortly after my parents died, I did have to graduate from college, get a job, and head into the world, but the world had not treated me particularly kindly. I was trying to figure out, “What do I do?” I didn’t have parents saying, “You have to be a lawyer or a doctor.” I didn’t have that, but I also didn’t have a sounding board and a backstop, so it was like, “Figure it out.” A lot of my mentors, professors, and whatnot were saying, “With your credentials, you should go work at an investment bank or a consulting firm,” and that’s a great place to start because you learn skills.
I have immense respect for banks and consulting firms. This is not a criticism of what they do. This was simply me asking, “If I’m going to die tomorrow, does the world need another consultant or banker?” I was like, “No, and not me.” Society was saying, “Turn left if you will or turn right. Take your pick.” I was going, “If I die tomorrow, I’m taking a hard right. I am not going up the corporate ladder.”
It didn’t speak to me but from that existential perspective. Back then, what I decided to do is I did not go the investment bank or consulting route. I went and guided hiking and biking trips around the world. I was earning far less money, but seeing the world and learning a ton about how other people lived, what I cared most about, my travel bug, and all the rest.
The flashpoint is people going, “What the heck are you doing with your career? What are you doing with your life? You look like you can’t focus on anything. No grad school is ever going to accept you. You look like a deli top. What are you trying to escape?” Also, I got, “You look like you’re having too much fun. This job looks too much too fun.”
I was getting all of this flux. In total fairness, I was like, “I am going through such grief and anxiety. I am not in the real world. If the real world is banks and consulting firms, I need nothing of it. I need to heal my heart.” I also had very little overhead. I had to take care of myself, but I did not have a mortgage to pay or a family to raise.
What I ended up doing is I guided trips for six months of the year and I worked my tail off. I got paid not a lot of money, but my job was to get people to ride their bicycles through vineyards and to translate wine tastings. It was a pretty fun job, and that gave me not enough income to raise a family but enough income to travel the other six months of the year, so I did that.
I didn’t have a permanent address for the better part of four years. I got to see a lot of the world as well, because all of the income I earned, I could spend on travel. I realized, “If I’m going to die tomorrow, then I don’t need to be laser-focused on saving, but I have to be financially responsible. It’s important, but it’s not going to define me.”
Anyway, coming back to the flashpoint where I had people giving me such flack for the decisions that I was making that spoke to my heart, but then when I realized what would my parents say, it wasn’t the, “We want you to be the person with the fancy title in the corner office,” but they were like, “We would like for you to be happy and helping others.” When I realized that if I define myself that way, then all this flack I was getting, I could see it melt away. That took time and practice, but here’s the hook. That was one flashpoint of this like, “I think the lens I need to look through is that one, and not what are these external trappings and societal expectations.”
This was the other flashpoint that I liked more. Several years later, the same people who had given me such hell in my twenties were like, “What are you doing?” I ended up going from guiding to law school. I did my graduate work then I ended up taking these credentials and doing very atypical things with them, which took time, effort, and thought, but they made sense to me. These people came back to me and they were like, “How do we do what you did?” I didn’t need that validation. I had no resentment at that point, but there was this flashpoint of this is hard work to get clear on your values and your priorities and make all the pieces fit together in your unique mosaic of life, but my goodness, it’s worth it.
It’s that sense of what it means to really explore your life, take risks, and recognize privilege when it’s there, and also, recognize the different kinds of privilege, which we usually think of that in terms of money, but the privilege of freedom or the privilege of being raised in an emotionally sane household. I think that’s more important than any kind of money. Being raised in a household with love, having your health, and all of these are kinds of privileges, but that flashpoint that all of a sudden, all that hard work and the soul searching that society was saying looked frivolous that in fact was valued. That was hugely important.
Hearing that made me say, “I am on my own career path. I am curating my own portfolio.” This is really hard work. It’s uncharted territory because it doesn’t align with what society wants to see, but it made me double down on my interest and desire to dig into what had the greatest meaning for me, and that has made a ton of difference.
What you described is so beautiful, and there is something about that. There is something that comes up for me when you describe this. It’s like having the courage to follow your spark and allow it to take you into this unknown or to this place where you don’t know exactly what this is all going to mean in the end, but you know that it’s leading you to something that is meaningful to you, and ultimately, that is where all this comes together into a portfolio that makes sense.
It’s the portfolio that no one else has and no one else can have because it’s my life. Similarly, to anyone reading this, your portfolio is uniquely you. No one can ever have your portfolio, and no one can ever take it away from you either, unlike a job. It sounds a little bit blunt, but even if you love your job, even if you’re good at your job, or even if you want to do it for the rest of your life, if it’s a job that someone else gave you, you are forever at risk of it being taken away.
Your portfolio is uniquely you; no one can ever have your portfolio. And guess what? No one can ever take it away from you, either.
That’s unsettling and unfair, but it’s the reality of life versus this notion of what does it look like, what does it mean to create and curate your portfolio, it’s incredibly empowering and uplifting. It doesn’t mean you’re not going to have to adapt or you’ll always know what to do, but it goes back to what you were saying about the journey.
I think it’s this whole notion of, “It’s the journey, not the destination.” That’s a little bit overused. I don’t mean to be rehashing that, but it is so true. It’s not about whether you get to some end goal. I still have this notion that I think I have longer than a year to live. I’ve planned to live to be triple digits, but I always have this notion of like, “I may not be here for long.”
I will admit that when I go to bed most nights, I still say, “If this were the last day that I had, would I have spent it in a way I can justify?” That includes boring days and spent in front of a computer. It’s not all leisure and fun. Hard work is part of the journey. Some days, I get to spend it outdoors, and some days, I’m cooped up indoors, but that sense of, “Did I follow that true North? Did I follow that thread of my life that is carrying me forward?” If so, then we’re on the right trail that we are blazing as we live.
I feel like there are so many directions we can go in here, but I want to get to this handstand. We have to talk about your handstand adventures. Tell the people the story about the Handstands that you have been doing around the world.
I am known to stand on my hands and walk on my hands. I’m old enough, so people are like, “You shouldn’t be doing that.” The story, and also putting it right out there in terms of Flux, a world and a future in flux, and constant change, I like to refer to my handstands as my upside-down perspective or a fresh perspective. I see the world in different ways, literally and figuratively.
It serves me well when change hits because I always like to say that when you stand on your hands or do any kind of inversion, whether it’s headstand, handstand, or even reaching down and touching your toes, or if you can’t touch your toes, leaning down, getting blood to your head but also flipping your head upside down, you see the same things, but you see them differently. It is a fresh perspective. The story goes though, I did grow up doing gymnastics, so I learned how to do a handstand when I was very young, and then I didn’t stop doing them.
There was this moment, I was again in my twenties or so, and I looked around at one point and was like, “All the people I used to be doing handstands with, they’re not doing them anymore,” but it didn’t occur to me that was anything unique or novel, and then people were like, “You’re doing handstands. This is quite fun.” I had a hiatus here and there and I had stopped doing gymnastics, but I still had arm strength. Speaking of family and rebuilding family, it was quite fun because part of my family of choice, I consider my core family at this point. They knew about my travels.
I’m also glad I mentioned the part about guiding. This was during my guiding time. I’m out of college, and this was before grad school where I was really trying to figure my life out, and this was a time, too, of the guy who does the chicken dance. He travels to different countries and does the chicken dance or people that travel with their teddy bear and take photos of their teddy bear in different places. They were like, “That’s stuff is interesting. You can do so much better. We challenge you as you travel to take photos of yourself doing handstands in these different places,” so it was a family-based challenge.
They had no idea how seriously I was going to take them because what ended up happening is one year later, and I still remember it was holiday time, and you can create those photo calendars, so I did April handstands around the world in a calendar, and they laughed so hard, but it was clear that I had a signature that people would remember. I did it as a way to partly document my travels and have this connection to my family that I was trying to rebuild, but then what happened over time is the vast majority of my travels have been so low.
I am married and I travel a lot with my husband now, but a lot of them over the years, it was just me. Even now, I still like to travel on my own, but think about it. To do a handstand and have a photo of it means you have to get somebody to take that photo. In my case, it wasn’t someone I knew. I had to get a local to take the photo, so you have this situation, and it happened again and again, and this is one of the things I love most about it, where I don’t look like the locals where I’m traveling.
I don’t usually speak the local language. I am trying to convince somebody that they need to hold my phone or my camera and I’m going to go over there and I’m going to stand on my hands and I need to take a photo. They didn’t understand any part of that. They were like, “You’re going to do what? I don’t think I understand your English,” but then they saw me do it and they were like, “This is so fun,” and then you would have small crowds gather and you would have children that start to do somersaults. It became, for me, never mind the handstand. It was this icebreaker moment where as a result of doing handstands, I got invited into more people’s homes out for tea or coffee.
Any part of this delightful situation that began as awkward and then turned into this community fun, I bring that up because I saw so much goodness in humanity, but also I had so much fun trying to convince people like, “Here’s what’s going to have to happen,” and of course, I have to trust them with my phone or camera. There were all these reasons why it shouldn’t have happened, and yet, it continued to happen, and it continues to this day to be one of my favorite parts of the travel experience. That’s what it is.
Also, on a final footnote, read any studies or research out there about doing inversions. Headstand, handstand, and touching the toes are linked to greater longevity, greater mental acuity, and it is a key part of how you age well. There are very clear health benefits of doing handstands, so to anyone out there, keep it up or give it a try.
The question I have is, has anyone asked you to do a handstand while on a show?
I get that a lot. The Zoom screen I’m in now, you can see that it’s shoulders up, so I can’t do it. You could put it far away, but then you have to shut it down and move it back so you can talk to somebody. I’ve been doing a lot of handstands in lockdown. I will admit that when I can travel in person, like giving a keynote on stage, I offer handstand lessons after, but the specs of the Zoom screen are very inconducive to be able to do that, so my apologies.
This has been so amazing. I have one last question, which is, what are 1 or 2 books that have had an impact on you and why?
I’ll mention too, one of which is mentioned in my book. It is around anxiety, fear, and trauma, and you may have heard of it before. It’s called The Body Keeps the Score. I love this book. It’s dog-eared and everything like that. That’s more of the adult book. The other book that I love that very much relates to what I was talking about earlier about my dad is a book called Children of Many Lands and this is long out of print. It’s a picture book. I’ll be dating myself. I think this book dates from the 1970s at some point. It’s an old book, and it all has pictures. My dad gave it to my mom when they were dating before they got married or had kids, and they were both teachers starting out.
When you stand on your hands or do any kind of inversion, you see the same things, but you see them differently. It is a totally fresh perspective.
The inscription says, “As the book portrays the many different kinds of children throughout the world, I hope it will be an inspiration for you to teach in many different ways as well. It is the love of children and diversity.” Here’s the thing. Growing up, when my parents were alive, I loved this book. I would pour over the pages, and I’d be like, “I want to visit Romania. I want to visit China. Who is this kid? I want to know them,” and they would be all snotty-nosed and had rattled hair, but it was kids from all different walks of life.
I love this book, and I know it was directly related to my relationship with my dad, but then this desire for an international career and to see the goodness in others, and then when they died, as I mentioned earlier, my sister and I had to make some hard decisions. It wasn’t like my parents had a huge house or anything, but they had lives and we had to figure out what do we keep and what do we let go of.
We were young. I was not going to have furniture and lugging that around with me the rest of my life, so it was about what matters, like the family mementos and the real precious stuff. Most of which were small, like letters and things like that, but what I knew I had to keep was this book. This book has traveled with me everywhere, and it’s still front and center on my bookshelf. It has much more of a personal connection to how I ended up thinking, being and believing in all the rest as I do now.
I can’t thank you enough for all the insights and your stories. I feel like we didn’t even touch enough on Flux. The book is brilliant, but what we did talk about is something that I’ll remember forever.
Thank you. I love conversations like this. I can talk about Flux all day, but if you like this human piece, chances are really good that you’re going to like the book. I can walk people through the eight superpowers any time, but I don’t get to have conversations like this all the time, so thank you. This was wonderful.
You are so welcome. Before I let you go, I want to make sure people know where they can find you. What is the best location for finding out more about you?
For all things Flux, flux mindset, and superpowers, please head to FluxMindset.com, and then I have a personal site as well, which is AprilRinne.com. I haven’t found anyone else with my name, so it makes me very easy to find online. Also, that is where you will find my handstands. It’s AprilRinne.com/Handstands, and then I’m April Rinne on all social media also. Thank you.
Thank you so much, and thanks, readers, for coming on the journey with us. That’s a wrap.
- The Body Keeps the Score
- Children of Many Lands
About April Rinne
April Rinne is equal parts global authority, advocate, ally and adventurer. She sees trends early, understands their potential, and helps others do the same.
April helps individuals and organizations navigate a world in flux. Even before 2020, the pace of change was mind-boggling. Then a pandemic hit and accelerated many shifts already underway, ushering in a New-Now-Next-Never Normal that humanity has yet to fully grasp. Yet the future does not see a return to stability or certainty. The only "steady state" is one of more change. So how do we move forward?
In her keynotes, presentations and book FLUX: 8 Superpowers for Thriving in Constant Change, April guides the way. April has been weaving a story about how to thrive amid flux for as long as she can remember, drawing on her history as a futurist, advisor, global development executive, microfinance lawyer, investor, mental health advocate, certified yoga teacher, globetrotter (100+ countries) and insatiable handstander. She brings global perspective and extraordinary cross-cultural understanding to how we see, think about, struggle with and ultimately forge relationships with change.
April also harnesses her very personal experiences with flux, including the death of both of her parents in a car accident when she was 20. She shares how she learned to let go of her own future, buck convention, create a portfolio career and find meaning -- and how you can do so, too.
April is a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, one of the 50 Leading Female Futurists in the world, and one of the earliest Estonian e-Residents. Her mission is to connect people, ideas and resources in ways that say "wow, that's what the world needs" and "wow, we'd never seen it that way" -- and then to see differently and make it happen.
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