Whenever I hear the word ‘pivot’, I think of Ross from Friends. Rachael is helping Ross attempt to get a sofa up the stairs to his apartment, and there is a corner that cannot be navigated. Ross enlists Monica to help (but gets Chandler instead). Ross even creates a diagram so that Chandler and Rachel can see what they have to do, but they cannot get around the corner. In the end, he cuts the sofa in half and attempts to return it. That doesn’t work out too well either. Ross scans his environment and tries to come up with a solution. Not a great one, but a solution.
I did not realize that I had learned to pivot until the lovely Jenny Blake explained it to me in simple terms—the ones I remember from learning to play basketball in 3rd grade gym class. A pivot is when you plant your foot, scan your environment and then make the best move with the ball.
In our lives, a pivot is the same thing. You plant yourself, or look up from what you are embedded in, scan your environment and make your best move.
Last year, around this time, I was offered an opportunity to pivot, to come on board with Actionable as the Regional Director for North America. Though I am still focused on the game that I love—changing the world of work one leader and conversation at a time—this offer was a clear pivot from my private coaching practice. It was an emotional choice. I stopped to reflect on this new view of my future environment, and realized that I loved the work that would be ahead of me. I jumped at the opportunity.
A second pivot occurred in the last six months, where as a team, we decided to split the Regional Director role into two parts. One role is focused on scouting and attracting great coaches and consultants to join our community; the other role is focused on helping those coaches and consultants integrate Actionable Conversations into their practice, provide them with tools and resources to scale their practice, and develop deeper and more meaningful relationships with their clients. Without thinking through the two distinctly different objectives (planting our feet and scanning the environment), we would not have come up with this solution, which was much more focused that our initial plan. That doesn’t mean the plan was bad, it means that by stopping for a moment, and scanning what was working or not, we were able to devise a better solution.
So why is pivoting worth it? It didn’t work for Ross. He didn’t even get a refund on the sofa! Support from others (Rachel and Chandler), directions (the diagram) and sometimes failing in a huge way (cutting the sofa in half) will be the only way to move the ball, or the project forward. Making the choice to stop, reflect and then act in a changed manner can be difficult and emotional.
However, the most learning occurs in the phases before you launch a new decision. It comes from stopping, planting your foot, and scanning your environment.
If the move is not the best one, there is always time to pivot again.