Here’s to the Joyful Pivot

It’s not just Ben Bernake;  sudden course corrections are the rule of the day.  I used to worry about feeling stuck.  Then I heard the musician Laurie Anderson say she feels stuck all the time.  Now I worry if I don’t feel stuck; I figure if I’m comfortable, I’m not paying attention.

Most of us don’t make tough decisions until there’s a crisis. Detroit didn’t pivot — if that’s what it was — until it was broke.  We lose a client (or worse, a friend), an elderly parent falls and breaks a hip, we lose our job.  

Writing in Forbes, Martin Zwilling defines (the over-used term) pivot as a quick change in direction that keeps an organization grounded in what’s been learned.  “(Startups that pivot) keep one foot in the past and place one foot in a new possible future.”

Nothing is more reassuring than the scent of possibility.

The trick is to separate setback from failure and train our eyes on the possible.  I’m reminded of an anecdote the marvelous Laurie Anderson told during her recent visit here:  It became clear that a collaboration with Brian Eno wasn’t working.  Eno clapped his hands and said, “Oh boy, a problem.  We can throw everything out and re-think the thing.”

That’s such a large idea:  being Joyful when things don’t go as planned. Years ago, I worked with the talented producer Linda Batwin.  I’d asked her help with a corporate project that wasn’t going as smoothly (surprise!).  I was in a snit, and Linda said to me, not in a preachy way, but as someone working towards mastery:  I try to enjoy the process.

So here’s to possibilities — and the process of working towards them with joy, wisdom and hopefully, a little help from our friends.

Courtesy Fast Company Design
Courtesy Fast Company Design