It’s Friday and there is always an extra energy force that runs through us when the weekend is upon us. Things that seemed insurmountable earlier in the week have been addressed. Overwhelm can be replaced by relief, when we are nearly through the work week. Like most weekends, I have some light plans but was mostly looking forward to laying low and spending time with Zach.
Then I received an early morning phone call, letting me know I need to pivot from whatever I thought I had planned. Someone I love needs support by way of presence, the kind that I know only I can provide. I thought I was going to spend the weekend one way, but wasted no time resisting the call to shift gears. I will cancel my light plans, pack a bag and travel to where I am needed.
Details of my own situation aside, let’s talk about the pivot. It is not an action that comes easily to most, and like any valuable skill requires intentional practice. By pivot, I mean “I had this plan…and then something happens that beckons me to take a different course.”
Without pivot practice we suffer. I say this because before I built my pivot muscles (mainly from having little or no control over so many things that have happened around me like the deaths of two of my children) I suffered a lot. Something would happen, and I would direct my energy in all the wrong places.
First, I would staunchly resist the situation. I spent time in disbelief, objection, frustration, and by the time I came up for air from all that rumination my “response-ability” (love this term from Optimize.me) was already depleted. Yet I still hadn’t taken one step in the direction of doing what clearly needed to be done.
Moments, hours, days of analyzing, or wishing something was not happening, further delayed my ability to engage. But I learned that there is no merit in resisting what is. (Byron Katie style: “Argue with reality and you will lose, but only every time.”) Over the last several decades I have learned to skip the “woe is me” process, and pivot right into “what needs to happen right now and what does that mean for me and those around me?”
Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting we don’t have feelings about changing gears, particularly if someone’s health or well being is at stake. I am only saying that I can have the parallel experience of allowing my feelings without letting them paralyze my ability to show up and act.
The “pivot” is a time and energy saver. Next time a gear shifts in your life, allow it to be as it is, and simultaneously see how quickly you can move from a victim mindset to a capable presence that knows and does the next best thing.
One tip in this process: Knowing who we are and what we hold most valuable makes pivoting easier. Clarity on our core values creates a hierarchy of priority, which makes the next best action obvious, rather than a mystery we need to analyze.