One of the hardest things to admit is to say, “I was wrong and I will change.” To admit that you are wrong is an affront to your ego’s job of maintaining your sense of individuality, separateness and, perhaps, superiority. Clinging to your opinion at all costs is one way your ego protects you from perceived threats and the chaos of change.
But growing and adapting requires leaving old habits behind and changing, which is so difficult for most of us, especially when it comes to changing our personal habits.
The question is: how do you talk about change without threatening your ego and triggering more defensiveness?
Yes, that’s right. Pivot.
This over-used cliché in today’s society actually has a very important function. It softens the fact that something needs to change and therefore can make change easier.
The dictionary’s definition of pivoting is “the action of turning around.” Isn’t that what you are doing when you see something new, or have an insight that leads you to want to change?
When you see yourself engaging reactive, drama-filled behavior and you want to start again—you want to turn it around, don’t you? Most people put so much pressure on themselves to be perfect or get things right, turning around and starting again can seem almost impossible!
Learning to speak – to yourself and others – in ways that create more self-compassion can help you make the shift from the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT)™ to more empowering ways to work with change both at work and home.
Here are a few examples of how the word pivot, as it is used today, eases the change journey:
- A technology company does not admit that they blew through all the start-up money. Instead they say they are pivoting to a new business strategy learning to be nimble and responsive to the market.
- A sports team doesn’t say they are cutting their older players. Instead they say that they are pivoting toward the future and rebuilding with younger players.
- A politician doesn’t admit to “flip-flopping.” Instead they are pivoting to a new position as they gain more information.
Admitting mistakes feels risky. Pivoting is powerful.
Flip-flopping is weak. Pivoting is wise.
Your brain believes what you say, which is why language is so important. Using words that allow you to be more open and give yourself a break can be a huge benefit. Words and phrases that make change difficult—like admitting you are wrong or failed—-only intensify the drama and resistance to change.
“Pivoting” might be a trendy word and we can snicker at how clichés come and go. It also has a powerful principle behind it. If you can talk about change in ways that aren’t too threatening to your ego, you are less likely to be defensive and resist the change.
Pivoting, as it is used today, dresses-up mistakes and errors in a graceful package and allows for more open conversation with yourself and others.
Anything you can do to lighten the pressure you put on yourself is a bonus. “I am pivoting my thinking on that,” is a lot easier to say than, “I was wrong and I’ve changed my position.”
Our work is about supporting people, teams and organizations to shift from drama to TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic) ™. Using language that makes it easier to work together, with creativity and openness, is a great place to start.
You might have a situation in your life or work right now in which the most powerful action you can take is to pause and pivot to more resourceful, resilient and innovative choices.