I don’t need to tell you that we’re STILL entrenched in the unknowns of this global COVID pandemic, having just hit the morbid 200,000 fatalities mark, with predictions into the 300 thousands. Unprecedented (climate-induced) fires have ravaged the redwood forests and political unrest and uncertainty bubble like a cauldron. And it’s not just the US. Our East African friends of Kenya and Uganda are dealing with drought and locust infestations, inflamed border conflicts, and widespread food insecurity.
It’s a lot to digest; enough to put me into a PTSD glaze-over just writing that opening paragraph!
Gratefully, I’ve seen some light in the darkness, inspired by what’s possible as I lead two simultaneous and inspiring groups of IGNITE pivoters: one group US- and mostly-DC-based solopreneurs launching or expanding their businesses; the other a cohort of East Africa-based climate justice leaders fighting for their communities and livelihoods.
As different and distant as these 10 participants are, they share a glaring, uplifting commonality: the passion to make change.
That’s why this IGNITE program – a combination of online group trainings and one:one coaching sessions – has been so much fun for me. As the head of my own pivoting, change-making enterprise, I get to learn along with everyone!
In a comment to my recent blog post, a colleague and friend from my early tech consulting ‘Beltway Bandit’ days put it this way: “So what has changed [under COVID]? From car dealerships to churches to Chic-Filet…what’s changed is our willingness to change.”
Yes, we certainly have the impetus. So what does ‘change’ mean, practically? How do you master the art – not get overwhelmed, thrown off-course, or just plain stuck?
First and foremost, we need community to help us through – witnesses, feedback, moral support. According to Laura Zam, one IGNITE participant who is transforming her recently published bestselling book, The Pleasure Plan, into an enterprise and a movement: “The group helped me see I have a thing. Something real and something needed. They’ve given me the confidence to go for it.” (https://laurazam.com)
Over the next few weeks, I’ll share four keys to successful pivots, based on what I am teaching (and learning) with my diverse IGNITE pivoters. I reserve the right to expand the list, as I muse along, because these ideas are also changing and evolving.
Here’s a sneak preview…
1. (Re)ground yourself in who and what you are. Taking a page out of Jim Collins’ Good to Great playbook (https://www.jimcollins.com/concepts/the-hedgehog-concept.html), give yourself a holistic assessment. What’s your passion? What are you best at? What’s your resource engine? And what niche lies at the intersection?
2. Question your niche. In the time of pandemic, maybe what you are up to has to change. Maybe you have strayed from your ‘hedgehog’ focus – and for good reason. If pivoting is nothing else, it’s about questioning. According to IGNITE participant @agnes_leina, Director of the Kenya-based Il'laramatak Community Concerns: “We are strategically questioning and strategically listening.” And the answer will come.
3. Find the Both/And. We had an ah-ha moment in the Africa group when
we realized that the only way to balance on the pandemic teeter-totter is to look for the intersections, pursing activities that BOTH respond to the crisis AND still fulfill our mission (hopefully without killing ourselves). These intersections are where breakthroughs happen.
4. Operationalize your Pivot Plan. It’s not enough to put good ideas on paper. We have to shift into action; and this means involving folks in the process so they are with you. And now we are back to collaboration because: “Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone.” (Reinhold Niebuhr, The Nature and Destiny of Man)
Stay tuned for more…and stay safe and well.