A “pivot” is a fancy business word used when something changes. In business there are many different kinds of pivots: customer, scope, channel. In life there are also pivots. These I feel can be categorized as slow pivots, background pivots, sudden pivots, and prescribed pivots.
Slow pivots are the storylines of our lives, the encompassing arcs, these changes take some time. These involve growing up, forming relationships, learning.
Background pivots happen in the shadows, they occur without us ever realizing it, at least, not at the time. If you’ve ever played an instrument, it’s the time you lost your place in the sheet music, but realize your hands are still finding the notes exactly, without you even trying. Or the way I’ve had insomnia since before I can even remember, but in college I can fall asleep in seconds sitting up in a lecture hall, without noticing or trying, sometimes with my eyes still open. (Sorry, Mom!)
Sudden pivots are changes that happen in a single second, with no anticipation. They are unexpected, and must be adapted to retroactively. My life recently had a sudden pivot when my house at college flooded over Christmas. In the five days no one was home to stop a burst pipe from leaking, cascading pools of water from the top floor of my house soaked the two stories below. I spent the days before India packing up and moving, instead of just packing for this trip.
Prescribed pivots are the changes you see coming. Like a prescribed burn, it’s time for underbrush to be cleared. These have a set date. I have a prescribed pivot waiting when I get back from India: 2 and a half months later I graduate from college. With no immediate plans and no set destination, though I have had four years to prepare for this pivot, I know it will still feel sudden.
In a lot of ways coming on GCIL was a method of avoiding such prescribed pivots, and accidentally, some sudden ones. It’s easy to pretend I’m not graduating from UW so soon when I’m not even on campus. It’s easy not to worry about having a mildew-soaked mattress in Seattle when my immediate concern is with the way my hip is never comfortable on my too thin (but completely dry) mattress at ISI.
In a lot of other ways, GCIL is a pivot in itself. A background pivot surfaces, as I agonize over making viable prototypes for a semi-imaginary business, when all my life I’d been sure I was anything but an entrepreneur. A slow pivot curves in, as the road trips I took with my grandparents in my childhood culminate in a person who adapts quickly and assuredly to life in a country I never imagined I would go to. The sudden pivots we have grown accustomed to being unable to anticipate that are just a part of daily life in India, like illnesses or kind invitations from strangers, are not to be overlooked.
The prescribed pivot is, coincidentally, today. The first iterations of our start ups are due. This is the first major deliverable of GCIL; it’s a midterm of sorts. And the final isn’t cumulative. Today marks a chance for a fresh start, an opportunity to wipe the slate clean and take your business in a new direction. Hopefully a better one, as we have a bit more experience in innovating, and are a little more familiar with failure. Today the final stretch of GCIL begins. And just like the other prescribed pivot on my calendar, though I have had so much time to prepare, the end still feels all too sudden.