To Pivot or Not to Pivot

I recently had a lively discussion on the state of Detroit and its emergence from bankruptcy with a few of my peers. I argued that the bankruptcy was an extremely practical and timely pivot for the city. This resulted in a resounding debate on whether a government entity can pivot. My theory is that the idea of pivoting is not relegated only to the business world. In fact, any person or entity can and should pivot to avoid complacency and increase their life or business ROI.

While in college, I worked at the Phonathon, where I called alumni and essentially asked for donations. Those conversations informed a great deal of my professional life. This is because over and over again, I talked to people who started their career on one path and then completely changed it. Perhaps, the best conversation was with a former management consultant that left behind a six figure income to pursue his passion of owning a clothing store and designing a clothing line. What was initially a risky proposition has made him a millionaire many times over. He knew that his general dissatisfaction with his job and life was “sucking” the energy out of him, so he pivoted.

Even in my own life, I have made several pivots in my relatively young career. I began in retail management and made the decision in 2009 to actively pursue the technology sector. With that decision, I initially thought I would want to be a developer, but I quickly determined that the day to day work was not great for me. So, I moved into product management, vendor management, and account management. For someone like me, these different aspects of the business ensure I am engaged and challenged daily.

When researching “When to pivot?”, I stumbled upon the infographic below. In reviewing the infographic, I realized that this concept could be applied to the internal and external issues found in everyday life. This is a very small sample of some of the issues that might be present in an individual’s life. The key point is making a detailed list of the various internal and external issues and determining whether it is the proper time to pivot.

The idea of the pivot can be one that seems all encompassing or overly complicated, but it really comes down to determining what you want from your life, your team, or your work and then determining when what has worked in the past no longer applies. Ford said “One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do.” This is a profound statement about the potential that lies within us all.