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June 26th, 2018
This episode references Episode 57: Compass. If you’d like to fully understand the reference, then please check out that episode first.
Those who persevere and eventually succeed are lauded – for good reason. But what about the person who pivots? Are they ‘giving up’ in a sense?
What defines perseverance?
The willingness to keep going even in the face of setbacks and failures.
What defines a ‘pivot’?
Here’s a possible definition.
The willingness to try something new given the information received from setbacks and failures.
What exactly does that sneaky pair of verbs really mean in the first definition: 'keep going'
What does the persevering individual actually do when faced with setbacks and failures? How do you 'keep going' after a setback or failure while ‘persevering’?
Rarely is the answer to do the same exact thing that lead to the setback or resulted in failure. Something needs to be changed. This is the hard work. It requires a teamwork of things: awareness, calmness, optimism, thoughtfulness, curiosity and a willingness to try something new. Maybe only slightly different from the last strategy. Maybe something vastly different.
A pivot is required.
The persevering individual who succeeds is mythologized like a steam engine. They had the drive. Oh, and just happened to find the right pair of train-tracks. Clapped down on those tracks and then it was full-steam ahead to the horizon and beyond. But this is not the case. There are no such fast-tracks.
Better to think of an explorer with a COMPASS. The explorer doesn’t stare straight at the compass the whole time, marching off in the direction it points until the destination is reached. like that train… That would get you killed. You’d end up walking off a cliff, or into a bear den, or a drug den, or into a river home to piranhas, or a casino full of smiling sharks.
Anyone who doesn’t have their face glued to a compass would start to feel their commonsense tingling before making any of those mistakes.
And the more blind drive an individual has, the more spectacular the collision when that locomotive can’t pivot to dodge the building-sized rock that happened to fall on the tracks.
The good explorer is constantly referencing a compass.
But a good explorer spends the majority of their time looking at the terrain.
If the goal is north, it could be better served to go east for a little while, if only to go around a mountain instead of making the treacherous climb up into the clouds. A pivot - to go around an unforeseen obstacle might actually be faster and safer than trying to gobble up the obstacle with loads of work and frustration.
Are you climbing unnecessary mountains?
Don’t just head back down the way you came. Build a toboggan, round the mountain at the height you find yourself and slide down the other side. Or slide east - at the very least.
(A bad habit provides an extremely reliable framework for a new potentially good habit to expropriate. Don't let all that hard work go to waste.)
The results of perseverance are wicked sexy, that’s why perseverance gets all the fanfare. It’s the movie montage that delivers our perfectly-packaged, well-seasoned hero who will save the day in tight clothing.
The pivot is not sexy. It has no fanfare, and is usually marked by some failure, obstacle, some setback. What surrounds the pivot is confusion and uncertainty. The least sexy things for many humans. But it’s like a thousand-dollar check gift-wrapped in the cardboard tube of a spent toilet paper roll. It’s the opportunity to keep going, if only you consider switching things up slightly. By slowing down. Considering calmly. Curiously and creatively: what can be done now?
Perseverance means pivoting as often and as drastically as you need to in order to achieve a long term goal.
Perseverance is made of pivots.
P.S. If your COMPASS is broken, lost, or you feel like you never got one: Climbing a mountain is a particularly good way to survey the scene and get a feel for where you are. That means: learn something – something big, different and hard. Remember though. The climb to the top is not straight up. Best to switchback your way up the mountain. That means, lots of pivots.