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  • Michael M. Lewis

Radical Change: Time to Pivot

During this time when people are affected by the Coronavirus outbreak, there is change every day. It is not just regular every day change that seems to happen more sporadically but radical rapid change that seems almost completely out of our control. It leaves people feeling isolated, angry, upset and worried.

The brain is geared to sense danger. It is one of our survival mechanisms that has allowed us to flourish to 7.5 billion inhabitants on this little ball of dirt spinning through the universe. Five times a second, our brain (the amygdala specifically) reads and rereads a measure of danger so that we can determine how to react with speed for our survival.

This is all well and good when the proverbial saber toothed tiger is at the mouth of our cave threatening our loved ones, but in daily life this constant danger mechanism can have us creating things to be afraid of and a whole host of irrational thoughts with matching emotions and actions get created. But what happens when the danger becomes real again and this time in the form of a microbe that is so small that you can only see it on CNN or hear yet another neighbor has tested positive?

We do what any rational human being would do. We go bat shit crazy. We buy up all the toilet paper, stockpile our food stores to the gills, fill our cars with gas, and sell our stocks. We watch the news and social media to make sure we don’t miss any alert and talk incessantly about it so that even wild stories about the virus coming from a Corona Mexican beer gets distributed. We also go through denial that it could possibly be real, as serious as they are making it out to be or think, “it won’t effect me”. We get intensely angry towards those who could have acted more quickly to prevent the level of fallout and resort to pointing fingers.

At the same time, there is real danger. Precautions have to be taken. Social distancing (a new oxymoron) gets created as a standard practice that undoubtedly will survive past this wave of the virus. People find ways to stay connected. Those who are woke to the fear and the effect it has find ways to reach out to their neighbors, keep their meetings going and get all their creature needs met while waiting out the wave that we all hope will pass as quickly as possible.

In short we PIVOT. That amazing brain that protects us from danger also has mechanisms for survival to bend and change when needed to make us as safe and secure as possible.

When life gives us lemons, we don’t us make lemonade. We make makeshift face masks to donate to hospitals. We are restaurateurs who have perishables stocked up and find recipients to freely accept. We move meetings to Zoom to keep businesses and education moving. We start calling our estranged loved ones or distant friends to reconnect because we see how short life can be. We listen to actual experts over blow hard politicians who previously defunded the very resources we desperately need right now. We start focusing on doing more cardio outside than hitting those weights at the gym. We cook more, spend more time with our kids and read more. We clean out those junk drawers.

We smile more and wave more at our neighbors. We recognize those who we may usually pass up realizing that everyone is missing social contact and do our part to show we recognize them. We find ways to have small acts of kindness to try to calm the overall hysteria that is so easily stoked just by stroking a few keys on the computer with information overload.

In short, we come face to face with the things that we cannot control and start focusing on what we can control. We take action. We recognize our values and what is really important to us because in a sense we have lost it. Freedom is constricted. We have a choice. Play small and hunker down or PIVOT and find ways to rise to the occasion and be our creative, resourceful and whole selves.

We need to take this time to reflect on this skill that we all have and learn from this. People are dying. But also, so many more are living. I mean truly living lives where they feel more connected to other people.

One of my favorite quotes that I keep on my mirror is by Conrad Hilton. You know, the guy who created the successful hotel chain. “Success seems to be connected to action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes but they don’t quit.” Or if you prefer, the quote from Dory, the Pacific blue tang fish from Finding Nemo, “Keep on swimming, keep on swimming…” (also on my mirror with a feeble attempt to draw the character)

Pivoting is our ability to be flexible, move in a different direction to try something else. It is the very definition of progress. Two steps forward and one step back is still one step forward. It is our innate ability to create, hit a road block and create again.

Pivoting is an essential soft skill necessary for success in business and also in relationships. It applies to success in life in general even with our daily thoughts and emotions. Yes, you can create your thoughts and emotions. If a thought, belief or mindset doesn’t serve you, create and think a thought that does. If an emotion or mood gets you stuck, realize it can’t last forever and figure out a new path to get a different emotion that gets you motivated.

Sometimes we need someone on the outside to help us get a new perspective, but that too is a human survival skill to ask and seek the help of others. We are in it to win it together.

Here endeth the lesson, when things don’t go as expected or as desired, remember what is important to you, pivot and keep it moving. NEXT!!

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