ELC Blog Post 3: The Power Of The Pivot

Jaque (Center) leaving for Basic Training in Parris Island

Hello and welcome to the third blog post of Empowering Life Changes, LLC. Our company, exist to provide life coaching skills that allow our clients to experience the success of positive decision making, and to empower our clients to learn and maintain life-long healthy habits.

This week like most people my age, I took a trip home to be with family for the July 4th holiday. Growing up, within my home, holidays were not really a big deal. We celebrated birthday’s, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. We were poor, my mom raised 5 boys with the assistance of our family and some state aide. Times were tough, but we always had each other. My mother is doing just fine living on her own and is now able to explore what she loves about herself. My oldest brother is finishing up a lengthy prison sentence. I’ve begun a practice as a life coach, finished my Ph.D., teach at a major college, and spent some time working for a high-profile metropolitan police department. My middle brother served in the KY National Guard, has an amazing son and a supportive partner in his girlfriend. My next brother is currently serving in the United States Marine Corp and is married to a phenomenal woman. My youngest brother is becoming a self-sufficient adult. It is truly amazing to see 5 kids come from the same background, and all go in different directions. This blog will be dedicated to talking about our ability to pivot and the importance of pivoting at the right time.

Life Change #1: What is a pivot?

A pivot is our ability to take a bad situation or experience and redirect ourselves. Some examples of a pivot can be: 1) Working in a dead-end job for years and deciding that you don’t want to do that anymore. This inspiration for change moves you to go back to school, to update your resume, to seek other opportunities at your company, or could move you to change jobs/careers completely. 2) Living in a draining relationship and one day you decide to live a life based on value and worth. Maybe in this pivot you decide to end the relationship, seek couples counseling, or seek individual counseling. 3) Your family relationship dynamics are in disarray, and you want to mend burned bridges. It is quite possible that this pivot may look like reaching out through text or a phone call. It can look like hosting a dinner at your home or a restaurant. It may even look like creating a group chat and engaging the family in a healing conversation. All of these are examples of pivots that could happen in anyone’s life.

In karate we called a pivot an “off-angle” or “side-step”. This tactic was used when an opponent used a straight-line attack like a side kick, and we would quickly “off-angle” to dodge the attack and follow-up with our own counterattack. The pivot is not complete unless you introduce a forward movement, otherwise you’ll just pivot back into the same mess.

Life Change #2: Know when to pivot

Timing a pivot is critical. Too late and you’ll find yourself sucked back into the mess, too soon and you’ll have telegraphed (shown) your movement. The ideal pivot requires that we see the problem as it is, assess what tools we have to handle the problem, side-step any obstacles that might hinder us, and then begin working to resolve the issue. Several years ago, a few key family members suddenly passed away. Many in the family never fully quite recovered from the significance of these losses. The end result has been chaos, resentment, and frustration. When we are faced with conflict, we can unknowingly enter into fight or flight mode. This “stress” is the result of the body trying to maintain balance. In our stress we may say and do things that are hurtful in an attempt to get the other party to back down. Or we may shutdown and allow ourselves to be verbally, emotionally, and sometimes physically abused.

This is why the timing of our pivot is important. In our family’s situation I decided to reach out to a family member I hadn’t seen in person in over a year (partly due to COVID), but also because I just never made it a point to stop by regularly. It would have been easy for either of us to pick up the phone, to do a quick 5-15 minute check-in, and to let one another know that we love each other. But we didn’t do that. With so many people unexpectedly passing away over the last 15 months I have made it a point to contact people anytime they run across my mind. This weekend I got the chance to go over to my aunt’s house and check-in. We shared laughs, hugs, swapped old stories, and I got to see a collection of items from my Great-Grandmothers house. My heart was so fulfilled. This was a powerful and positive pivot. Every pivot will not feel this way.

Life Changes #3: How to handle a not-so good pivot

So, what do you do when the pivot doesn’t work out the way you envisioned? The quick answer is that you determine what went well with the pivot, what went poorly, and how you can improve for a future pivot. The lengthy answer is that it is normal to not always feel good about undertaking a pivot. In fact, if every pivot feels good then you’re probably not doing it right. Growth is uncomfortable and there is no getting around that. Les Brown calls it, “unavoidable suffering”. Don’t worry about the pivot causing you distress, you’re already in distress from the situation you’re going through. It would amaze you how many people stay in situations that require them to shrink themselves to fit someone else’s ideas.  

When the pivot doesn’t feel so good, pivot anyway. Forward progress is often better than no progress. Pivoting is truly an aggressive tactic. It doesn’t always require you to be “matter-of-fact”, you can and should (whenever possible) pivot with grace and class. This is to say, that as we learn to pivot, we want to show others the usefulness and fullness of the process. So again, when the pivot doesn’t feel so good, pivot anyway.

Life Change #4: What I’ve come to appreciate about pivoting

I want to wrap up this post with a brief summary on what I’ve learned from pivoting. Just about every negative situation we encounter in life can be turned around if we look at it through a positive lens.  I remember one rainy night I was driving home and took a turn too sharp causing the car to bump the curb. I ended up having to pull over in a church parking lot to change my tire. When I got out to start changing the tire it seemed as if an ocean started falling out of the clouds. In that moment I just started singing a song and enjoyed the fact that I knew how to change a tire, I was in a safe location, and that I had the tools needed to do the job. This was a successful pivot.

From another point, I once tried to salvage a friendship. Unfortunately, there had been too many layers of trauma, and we could not move forward together. Did the pivot fail, absolutely not. I didn’t receive the desired outcome, but we were able to move forward amicably in separate directions. A pivot does not guarantee you’ll keep the same company along the way. Grace and gratitude are big components of an effective pivot. Grace to understand that we must deal with others from their level of awareness, while maintaining our established boundaries. Grace to also recognize our own needs. Gratitude to be thankful for the knowledge, ability, and wisdom to even endure such a task. This concludes the blog on pivoting. Please leave a comment, subscribe to the blog, or send an e-mail to demetrius@empoweringlifechangesllc.com.

Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. Live with intention and purpose. 

Sincerely,

Demetrius  

Jaque graduating from USMC Basic Training

Author:

Hello, My name is Demetrius Latham, Jr. I am a life coach, college lecturer, police officer, martial artist, and IRONMAN Finisher. I strive every day to make decisions that will improve my life and the lives of those around me. I have a B.S. in Justice Administration from the Univ. of Louisville, a M.S. in Justice Administration from Cumberland Univ., and a Ph.D. in Justice Administration from Walden Univ.

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