Pivoting with Intent


It always seems like some people can reinvent themselves without even trying. They can pivot from one career choice to another effortlessly. Opportunities fall at their feet, no matter how dire their current circumstances, and they have little trepidation in seizing them. They must be gifted, right? Special? That’s not always the case. The truth may be, in fact, that those people a killed at pivoting. Over time, they have sharpened this often overlooked but very important skill and put it to good use when it matters most.

Pivoting, or moving from one place to another effortlessly, allows you to handle major problems, whether personal or professional, effectively. Events that prompt a person to pivot may run the gamut (e.g., losing a friend, losing a client, or moving on from a network; finding out news that was kept from you; realizing your peers are making more than you; understanding your job isn’t what you wanted and you’re ready to move but to where?). Being stuck in limbo, wrestling over and over with a problem at hand, may be just about the worst feeling. Your stomach churns and cramps, you need to remind yourself to breathe deeply, and focusing on anything else is near impossible. It’s time to pivot. But how? Where? When? How do you know it’s the right move?

It’s a difficult scenario many times, and learning how to navigate through it demands a diverse set of skills—and many positive intentions—in order for it to come out the right way. I’ve seen employees leave companies in respectful and productive ways, and I have seen them harbor contempt and burn anything and everything on their way out the door. In the long run, how you choose to pivot out of a situation is key. Because, it turns out the world is small and that old adage “what comes around, goes around” is a true one. I’ve seen it again and again. Imagine what you could do if you learned to effectively pivot when needed, and you gained the respect of others while doing so. But where do you even begin? Making a Plan B, Plan C, or even a Plan D may empower you or paralyze you. Should you just trust your gut? Which way is the right way?

Try this exercise: choose a regret. Nothing bi. aybe a lost opportunity. A job you passed on. A promotion you didn’t go for. A friend you lost touch with over a stupid argument. Now imagine the moment right as the opportunity presented itself. What could you have done differently? What did you say in that moment? Would you have said something differently? If so, what? Write it down. Practice free writing on the questions above. What comes out? Is there anything to put into action in the future? Being mindful of changes you want to make = stepping into the right path. ry to use some of your answers next time you encounter a conflict in which you could act the same old way or you could incorporate these new intentions.

Tip: Once you learn this skill set, you can instinctively make a proactive movement to protect yourself or your career in an instan—nd come out ahead. omethin, even if part of that pivot involves the perception of failure. Gasp, I said that forbidden word! Someone going through a divorce can be perceived as “failing” in their current marriage or can be seen as living authentically and making a wise choice to end a relationship that isn’t a good fit for either person. Or closing a business that isn’t working could be seen as pivoting into a career change that makes use of your best skills and talents.

Yes, pivoting can be messy at times. It can leave a wake of consequences that you still HAVE to deal wit—hat is inevitable. But the consequences are a part of any change. Unless, of course, you never, ever seek out that change. Then when life hands you a blo, ike a layoff with the company you dedicated 25 years to or your significant other leaving you, your brain sputters and panics. You never sharpened the right tools to handle such situations in a positive way. You have no idea what to do next, and the results can be traumatic. Practicing how to pivot with intent now is vital to your ever-changing world. Lean into it and master this skill to make lemonade out of all the lemons or opportunities that might come your way. 

Kim Kleeman