Are you in a situation where you know something has to change, but you’re not sure what it is? You’ve been working so hard and it doesn’t seem to be helping?
Are you stressed, maybe miserable, maybe whining just a little bit? (Or a lot?) Is your significant other or best friend or mother or boss tired of hearing about it?
If so, it’s time for a pivot.
And I’m not talking about a Pivot with a capital “P,” like those performed by crazed, venture-capital backed startup gurus who are heads-down in their cubes or co-working spaces 18 hours a day desperate to provide an outrageous ROI to their investors, and themselves.
Although even those guys sometimes have to pivot with a little “p.” Like close the business. Lose some money. Give up. Do something else. More often than not, actually.
Little “p” pivots often don’t feel like actual choices. They feel thrust upon us by circumstance—the economy, an intolerable reduction in quality of life or relationships or earnings, poor market analysis which seemed great at the time, overestimating our own desire or capabilities, sick and/or aging family members that need us.
And when we’re faced with the reality that what we had hoped to achieve by taking a particular direction is irretrievably lost, it’s devastating. Often paralyzing. Although there are likely other people with whom we don’t want to share our pain or confusion or unease, a lot of the time the person we least want to share that truth with is ourselves.
I know this because I am pivoting. Again. After five years as a business broker, a career choice I made in order that my husband and I might actually live together rather than primarily waving hello and good-bye at airport terminals, I’ve decided to go back to my core.
And that’s Possibilities Amplified.
I started PA in 2007, and have helped amazing clients accomplish amazing things. Of the three businesses I have started, this business is closest to my heart. I based its value proposition on my book, The Science of Making Things Happen, and that is still where my heart is today, in all I do.
In my first business, Computer Experience Plus, Inc., established in 1989, I helped my clients leap to the leading edge of technology. And in my third business, Transworld Business Advisors of Augusta, I have helped business owners sell their businesses and move on, often despite overwhelming odds. They were all pivoting, and sometimes quite painfully.
The same is true for the business buyers I’ve worked with, some of them tired of being shuffled around the country by their corporations, others divorcing, some coming home to care of aging parents, some wanting to take control of their economic destinies after being laid off one too many times.
These unexpected turns seem to be required of us here on Earth.
I have a saying: if it weren’t for change, we’d have no lives at all.
Perhaps I should change it to: if it weren’t for pivots, we’d have no lives at all.
I imagine that you, your team or your business might be facing a pivot. If so, here are some things I have learned for successfully navigating a change in direction.
- Be willing to let go. You can’t keep everything from your existing universe and expect to create a new one. Something—maybe everything—must go. Pivoting is often a practice of surrender, versus attack. Sometimes the two are intertwined. Don’t think you will mount a good offense if you first haven’t let go of everything that held you back. And I mean everything.
- Lead with your heart, not your ego. Acknowledging that the path you were on before your pivot was faulty is very difficult to do. To do so might even say something about you and your capabilities, or your leadership ability. It’s okay. Your ego will be screaming, “NO, NO! YOU’LL DIE! OR SOMETHING MORE HORRIBLE!!” If you continue on your new path, the only thing that will die is your ego, and it won’t even be missed. What will be received joyfully is your honesty, your transparency, your willingness to change, and your courage. We need more bravery in this world.
- Forgive yourself, if necessary. The person most likely to judge you is you. If you feel like none of this would have happened if you had only…then please take this golden ticket to join a really large club. We are all getting ourselves into places we had no intention of going. The point is, once you realize you’re there, will you gently give yourself the space to reinvent your approach to the world? If you won’t, no one else around you can, either. Don’t prevent your life and business teams from helping you by refusing to help yourself.
- Know that fumbling around is okay. Ambivalence is reinvention’s doorway. Don’t think that because you’re turning from one path that another that the latter will light up with neon signs! It might be dark and confusing for a while. That’s not you, that’s just your brain honing in on the best possible selection. Help your brain by actively envisioning all of the possibilities before you, and the pros and cons of each. Your brain is a very good sorter, once given direction. Expect a period of unknowingness and embrace it.
- Trust yourself. You’ll find your groove. You’ve been successful up until now. You’re still alive, aren’t you? A life change will not kill you. It will teach you things that you couldn’t have learned any other way. It will give you new wisdom to apply to whatever you do next. Hold this opportunity as a gift, and it will be a gift. Take it as a statement about your inadequacies, and you will prolong your suffering. You know what you’re doing, and what you want to do. Let the mental clouds clear and see the path that’s right there in front of you.
I am so excited about our opportunities together ahead. If you’re in a pivot, please share in the comments. I will answer every comment and everyone else reading will benefit from your candidness. Let’s amplify all of our dreamed of possibilities together!