What’s the Real Point of Pivoting?

Jeff Chenoweth

March 5, 2013 · 3 minutes read

Uncategorized

Pivoting is all the rage these days; it’s cool to pivot.  And though it’s not a new concept, “pivot” is a buzzword that’s recently taken center stage, worthy of at least one mention in most discussions from coffee shop chats to board room meetings.

“Cool story, bro.  Tell it again!”

With an abundance of recent literature, like Reid Hoffman’s The Startup of You, focusing largely on how pivoting is essential for entrepreneurs, startups, and those who thrive in professional environments—as well as movements like The Lean Startup, which encourage pivoting through continuous testing—having a story to share about how you manage to successfully pivot is practically a rite of passage in the startup community.

What causes us to change our focus?

That being said, by and large, we tend to look at pivoting when building a brand or product in terms of responding or adapting to the demands of users, or to the demands of the market in general.

In terms of our own personal careers, we tend to associate pivoting with the practice of constantly learning new things and adapting in order to stay ahead of the curve. We minimize the chance of becoming obsolete or replaceable and maximize the value we can bring to the table, or the opportunities we can take advantage of, even if they lie outside the original career path we chose.

Why are we doing this again?

Though that approach is unmistakably valid, it often brands pivoting as somewhat of a necessary evil, instead of something fun and exciting, which raises a couple interesting questions:

  • Is it wrong that we are driven to pivot, not because we’re following our passions or dreams, but because we’re scared of being left behind?
  • What if more people started pivoting because they wanted to, not because they needed to?

What would happen if we really tried to chase our dreams?

Now, I’m not advocating that you should quit your job tomorrow and try to become an artist, film producer, or stunt double simply because you’ve always had a nagging voice in the back of your head telling you to do so. I’m simply saying you should spend some time thinking about what it would be like to quit your job tomorrow to become a film producer or stunt double, simply because you’ve always had a nagging voice in the back of your head telling you to do so.

Even if it’s in a very miniscule way, just start somewhere small, and stop ignoring that crazy creative side you’ve always been too scared to unleash.  You could:

  • Take a class.
  • Read a book.
  • Take a trip.
  • Reach out to people who do what you’ve always dreamt of doing.

“Is this real life?”

Maybe you’ve got a decent job, or even a great one. Regardless, the question at the end of the day is this: are you truly fulfilled with the way you’re living your life? For a lot of people, that answer is “no, not completely,” simply because there are unresolved creative endeavors somewhere deep inside them that they’ve stifled.  Though these endeavors may have been pushed aside, it’s never too late to start pivoting toward them.

Allow yourself to be inspired

Pivoting should be something we do not just because change is a necessary part of life, but because we want to make sure we’re constantly trying to align as best we can with our passions and dreams. It’s really about committing to whatever it is that’s calling you and truly allowing yourself to be inspired by it.

Whether it means quitting your job tomorrow or blocking out a few hours each week to pursue a passion that might eventually become a career, think of pivoting in terms of changing your life—not because you need to, but because you want to.

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