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  • Madelyn Blair

Why do we fear the pivot when we do them all the time?

Have you ever watched a friend reinvent themselves right in front of you? Were you impressed? I know that I am always impressed when someone consciously moves from one place, risks the status quo, and reinvents themselves. I always wonder where did they get the gumption to do it, the energy to pull it off, or the stamina to keep going. It feels unique to the person and the situation. Yet reinvention occurs in so many areas of our lives.

  • When the baby arrives, we reinvent ourselves into parents. If you haven’t had that amazing opportunity, then you can imagine the impact on sleep and finances, but you can’t imagine the impact on thinking patterns that shift once there is a new member of the family. It’s a real pivot. It appears to happen naturally, but it also involves a lot of decision making about time, effort, priorities.

  • When students shift their major in school, parents shutter unless the student is wise enough to have gathered up and shared his or her reasons for doing so. Knowing why, makes the decision to change one that has some logic which always seems to make us feel a bit better – as if we have more control of the change because we understand it better.

  • When a person reaches retirement age, there is a clear moment when a pivot becomes a possibility as well as a requirement. Second careers have often begun at this moment in peoples’ lives when they have some level of financial security that allows them to reach for new areas to express themselves.

In all of these cases, the individuals have a story about these moments. A story that describes not just what happened, but what they did to ease that shift. (Some would say cope, but I’ll stick with ease.) When you gather them up, there is the possibility of discovering many traits and skills and strengths you may not have seen before. When I coach individuals who are facing a transition (the other popular word for these kind of moments), I always ask them to begin by exploring their own stories of previous changes. In those stories they see the evidence that they are more than capable of facing yet another change.

To test myself to show that transitions or pivots occur more often than we think, I made a list of all the times that I had to pivot or chose to pivot. It turns out that over the course of my career, I have pivoted 13 times. As I looked at the stories of the transitions, I saw many traits that have helped me, but I also came face to face with an insight from the time I was fired. Never act in fear as you do your job, but that’s another story. My other overall lesson was that when I embrace a transition, it works. When I call upon the strengths I have, as well as my weaknesses, it works.

Take some time and note all the transitions you have made in your career – from what major did you study to when you were fired to when you decided to shift industries to when you decided to have a family. Write the stories that surrounded the pivot. Who was in your life at the time? Who did you call upon? What else were you doing? How did you feel throughout the transition? Keep in mind that the story is your story – not right or wrong, just your story.

Please share what you learned about your ability to pivot. We’ll all learn.

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