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September 12th, 2018

It’s said that the person who will not stop trying cannot be beaten.  In order to maintain that kind of resilience, we do not try the same thing over and over. We try different things to see what will lead us towards our goal.  Every failure or obstacle is met with a pivot, small or large, in order to persevere.


If we want to embody that kind of person who cannot be beaten, than we need not focus on perseverance.  We would be better served to focus on our ability to pivot.


The most talked about and recognized aspect of the Cheetah is it’s ability to run faster than any other known creature.  We picture the big cat like a sniper’s bullet, heading straight for it’s target.  Single minded. Determined.  Unstoppable.  Like a locomotive, or a dive-bombing hawk.


A cheetah’s speed, however, is not the most interesting aspect of it’s abilities.  It’s only the most talked about.  What is more curious about the cheetah is it’s ability to maintain huge speed while turning and pivoting in a different direction.


We’ve all played a sport where a change in the game requires us to suddenly run in a totally different direction.  Our poor ability to do this has resulted in quite a few torn MCL’s and sprained ankles.


But imagine changing your running direction while travelling at 55 mph. . .


Bones would snap.


It’s the cheetah’s ability to slow down and speed up very quickly before and after a pivot that give it the advantage.   The body of the cheetah accomplishes this with incredibly powerful muscles but also very strong bones that can handle the forces of acceleration and deceleration.



Athletic endeavors aside, we really need not worry about how well our physical bodies can pivot in the way a cheetah’s body can.  What is greatest importance with this analogy is to apply it to our minds and our emotions.  How fast can we mentally and emotionally pivot? 


Do we get hung up with anger or sadness needing to slowly, painfully turn in a new direction like the Titanic, or can we develop incredibly strong mental bones that can take the strain of an immense and immediate change in emotional velocity?


We must ask our selves: how fast can I bounce back?


How much better would life be if I could bounce back harder, better, faster, stronger?


What would it look like from the standpoint of behavior, as if I were looking at myself through a video recording, if I saw myself confronted with some terrible circumstance and instead of devolving into negative emotions, I pivoted immediately, taking that mental 90 degree turn in order to start solving the situation immediately?





Perhaps we don’t slow down fast enough right before the failure, and after the failure has occurred we stagnate in a shocked, depressed idleness for some long length of time.  The bones and muscles of the human pivot are mental assets that we can grow and develop in a much shorter time frame than it took evolution to bless the cheetah with such physically equivalent gifts.


We can learn to full throttle straight into failure, and immediately get back up and start throttling in another direction.   Like muscles and bones that need exercise, our emotional regulatory powers need a similar sort of exercise.  The more failure we expose ourselves to, the more desensitized we become to the experience, which allows us to switch directions more quickly and try a new and improved strategy.

It harks to the old adage: what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.


The converse is also true.  What doesn’t make you stronger is slowly contributing to your death.


Instead of cowering in FEAR, we’d do best to get aggressive with ourselves and start making those difficult pivots towards our goals.  The more we push ourselves into this strategy the more we’ll be able to pivot harder, better, stronger, faster.



*Of course the cheetah does not make huge turns while at top speed, it slows down some.  The point still stands, even if the Pedantic reader would rather sulk.


A special shoutout to username Schmazo who brought up the cheetah connection on the Tinkered Thinking subreddit.


This episode references Episode 72: Persevere Vs. Pivot, Episode 114: Hawk and the Hound, and Episode 63: The Etymology of Fear. If you’d like to fully explore those references, check out any of those episodes next.

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