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  • Writer's pictureRichard Mailman

Embrace The Turn and Master The Art of Pivoting

Life rarely unfolds exactly as planned. Setbacks are an inevitable part of the journey. All through this fabulous little ride we’re all on, it’s unavoidable, we’re going to encounter obstacles, experience setbacks, and go through what will sometimes feel like some pretty devastating events. When we’re in the thick of it, the ability to think creatively and be able to pivot is probably the most important skill we’ll ever master.

Right now, there’s an entire creative community of writers and actors, about 180,000 of them, who are all wondering just what the hell they’re going to do to make ends meet. Not only in the face of the current strike, but in the ever-changing landscape of an industry they’ve built their lives around. Creatives, more than anyone, understand the importance of being able to approach obstacles and challenges with a fresh perspective and the ability to break free from conventional thinking. But I believe we all possess the ability to think creatively. We all have the power to open our minds, embrace curiosity, and be willing to challenge the status quo. I don’t think for one second that I’m being overly optimistic in saying that we all have the ability to cultivate a creative mindset and turn obstacles into stepping-stones.

Creative thinking, in large part, is all about discovering the power of your ability to pivot. To be flexible and adaptable. To be able to adjust your course of action when faced with unexpected circumstances. And just so you know, pivoting in no way implies giving up. Quite the opposite. It’s actually a strategic maneuver in order to navigate around obstacles and create new opportunities. Successful entrepreneurs will most always tell you that their ability to pivot is a crucial factor in their ultimate success.

I worked in the world of reality television for a long time, and I can tell you this… If I didn’t have the ability to change course when the shit hit the fan, and it almost always does, I would have never survived. I was trained in the theater. First as an actor, then as a writer. That creative process demands that you be malleable. In rehearsal as an actor when something isn’t working, you make another choice. As a writer, you create something new. These simple lessons I learned early on not only prepared me as an artist, but as a human being. But what do you do when it feels like the odds are insanely stacked against you? Or obstacles are being thrown in your path at what seems like a fast and furious pace? Or worst of all when inspiration just doesn’t come.

Having a growth mindset is integral to both creative thinking and pivoting. Believing in your own ability to learn, grow and adapt is what opens your mind to change. Resisting can no longer be a concept that works for you. The truth is, it never did. Instead of pushing back against change and viewing setbacks as failures, having a growth mindset allows you to see them as learning experiences. That’s pretty basic, and in this case, being “basic” is a good thing. The ability to embrace the challenges you face as opportunities for personal and professional growth, fosters resilience and confidence to be able to overcome any obstacle that gets in your way. And don’t be afraid of what most people perceive as failure. It’s an essential part of the creative process. My biggest creative triumphs happened because of my ability to learn from my mistakes, extract from them valuable insights, and use them to refine my technique. In the face of serious challenges is it always easy? No. But is it worth it? You bet it is.

And here’s a little secret, there’s no need to go it alone. Seek support. Collaborate. Look for guidance and advice from mentors, friends, and colleagues. Collaborating in art fosters creativity. Collaborating in life helps you achieve all of your goals. And practice, practice, practice! Every day, before you take on whatever project it is that you have on your plate, humbly acknowledge that change is an inherent part of life's journey. And quietly remind yourself that you possess the power of creative thinking. That alone will enable you to pivot, and move you one step closer to where it is you want to go.

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