“Pivot. Pivot. Pivot!”

I’m thinking about a planning meeting I attended last night. We’re running a community event tomorrow. Our group leader was reporting back on some last-minute items, and I noticed she kept circling back to one issue. It was evident to me that she was really worried about playing background music through a Bluetooth speaker during the event (because it was on our lists of tasks provided by someone else). I spoke up with a reassuring smile and said I would handle it. “You will? Oh my gosh! Awesome!” she exclaimed. Then I added, “And if it doesn’t work for some reason, I’m confident the event will not be ruined because we didn’t have background music.” Everyone paused for a minute as they processed then simultaneously threw their hands up and laughed. Everyone said, “Yes! Exactly! Good point!” I instantly saw the relief in our group leader’s body language. Something else happened, too. We had been focused on the problems that had come to light during much of our meeting. Worry started to spread through the group. “How are we going to pull this off?” became our mantra. Then our attitudes shifted. By the end of the meeting, we had become cheerleaders for ourselves and for each other. We agreed we would do our best and see what happens. We said it will be what it will be and it will not be the end of the world if it doesn’t look like we thought it would. In fact, we can pretty much expect it won’t look anything like what we thought it would, but it might actually be better!

I’m reflecting on this moment because it’s so common for us to fixate on things that really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Distractions can weigh us down, slow our momentum and thwart our progress. These distractions can make us act like we have blinders on and keep us from seeing the big picture because we’re so focused on the thing that makes us uneasy or insecure.

Over the years during my son’s health crises, I was forced to let go of my perceived notion of control. My Type A personality transformed. It’s bizarre because I still have traits of it, but I roll with the punches pretty darn well and have come to realize I never had control to begin with. “Good enough” really has become a thing for me with the understanding that I did the best I could under the circumstances. If the circumstances were different, the end result might be different, but all I have is right now and my best effort. This may sound extreme or even unacceptable to you, but my motto at work and home is, “Did anyone die? Is this a matter of life and death? If not, regardless of the hassle or our legitimate disappointment, there is still a lot to be grateful for.” I think once you’ve faced literal life-threatening situations, your perspective changes and you realize the wide spectrum of such hassles and disappointments. I want to be careful not to encourage comparative suffering (“My suffering is insignificant because there are people going through a lot worse”); however, realizing the scale of our own situation really does help us to stay grounded. Life is full of disappointments and it’s necessary to our viability & vitality to let ourselves feel those moments. But if we get stuck there for too long, we stop thriving and our “good enough” never elevates or improves.

So, how do we ensure “good enough” is not just accepting mediocrity? Here are a couple of ways:

1. Surround yourself with people who pivot well and communicate with them. Two heads are often better than one, not just because of the complementary skills and character traits, but because of the dynamics that naturally occur when two people communicate with each other. The operative phrase here is “communicate with each other.” Speak up. Bounce ideas off of each other. Offer insight. Offer solutions. Share and appreciate different perspectives. Listen.

2. Improve your own ability to keep moving. The Disney Creative Strategy is a process in which a team or individual works through three distinct thinking strategies to develop a solid and realistic plan. First, think like a dreamer to come up with your vision or dream. Then think like a realist as you consider how you can realistically achieve your dream. Then think like a critic who looks for the potential pitfalls of your plan. Formalize your plan with the usable parts of this process to carry out your vision/dream. Using this process helps force yourself into thinking patterns you don’t naturally lean into.

3. Review and improve. Underestimating, overestimating, skill gaps, knowledge gaps, market trends, personal boundary issues… The list of variables in any scenario is endless, but it’s important to continually review your processes and outcomes to look for patterns and consider what you can do differently in the future. Learn from your mistakes and your successes and get serious about upping your game. Hopefully your best is better next time.

Image credit: https://better-teams.com/how-to-brainstorm-using-disneys-creative-strategy/

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