Learning to Pivot
By Michele Russo
At every stage of your life, no matter how successful you may be, you will undoubtedly be faced with a situation that calls you to show up in a big way. For me, one of the biggest struggles has been knowing where I fit in. I’m just not the norm and to be honest, I don’t think I ever will be. I guess I’ve never had a strong sense of who I am, but I did have a strong sense of knowing who I am not. The process of getting to know yourself is a long road, full of dips and turns. Just when you think you have it all figured out, something else happens that makes you question if you really know who you are and what you want for your life. Yes, we all know who we are on some level, but I’m talking about knowing enough about who you are and what you want out of your life to be able to drown out the noise of society. It’s taken me years to come to the conclusion that the majority of my issues came from conforming to the “shoulds” in life. You should be married by this age, you should have a job that wows your peers, you should be a certain weight- the list goes on and on. I’ve finally realized that true happiness comes from throwing those shoulds out the window and navigating my own life.
These shoulds are not a way of society attacking us, but rather a gauge of what has worked in the past for the masses. And you know what? It’s ok if you don’t fit in with the masses. This past week, I started a new job that has given me immense clarity in the road to finding my true calling. (And guess what? My calling is not just one thing.)
To say this week started out rough would be an understatement. I could paint you a pretty picture about how I started this glamorous new job at a magazine and how fabulous it was, but that would be mostly smoke and mirrors. And while it is a fabulous job, or could be, it initially shocked me into realizing that I’m not very good at sales. Which is ironic considering that I spent years in a family business selling products with ease. The difference is coming from a retail setting where customers came to me, to now having to find my own customers and approach them for a sale. I started the week with generic cold call style emails that fit the normal criteria of a business email. Cold, boring and impersonal. I reached out to people in this way because it felt like what I was supposed to do. I SHOULD follow suit and reach out to potential clients the same way my sales manager does. Well, it didn’t work. I got kicked in the gut over and over with responses of rejection. I learned that I am afraid of rejection, each time I got an email back respectfully declining to purchase advertising I felt a blow to my ego. You know why? Because I wasn’t being true to myself. My gut told me the whole time that my approach wasn’t going to work. Hell, I wouldn’t buy from that style of sales either. Here’s the part where I tell you I had an epiphany and suddenly things changed for the better. Well, yes and no. First I spent a few days bitching and moaning to my friends about how this was just not for me. Oh, and crying like a small child. Can’t forget that. I complained about how I’ll never fit into this office and how I don’t want to fit in- I’d rather quit. But, deep down I knew that wasn’t the answer either. The universe isn’t out to get you, but it is here to teach you and make sure that you’re growing.
Let me tell you something about growing- it sucks. And you don’t even realize that within your pain is a valuable lesson that can’t be taught by reading a book or listening to a podcast, you’ve just got to experience it to gain the valuable lesson. My lesson was learning to pivot. I decided after some good old ugly cries that I was going to take the lesson. I used what wasn't working as a guide to lead me to what ultimately did work, speaking from my heart. I threw the bullshit sales pitch out the window and started to reach out to potential clients with a mindset of how can I be of service? And just like that, things got better and I started to find my flow. It was something I would never have found if I kept navigating off the shoulds. I should sell like this, I should approach a client like this… no, I should do what feels right for me and let that guide me. So I chose to pivot. Pivoting is allowing, it’s not beating yourself up for something you experienced that didn’t work. It’s allowing those things to teach you, not taking it personal if it doesn’t work and moving towards what does work. I promise a really ugly process can actually paint a pretty picture.
Towards the end of the week, I started to talk more with a woman that sits across from me in the office. We started talking about what led me to the position in the first place. I told her I wanted to be in the environment of the magazine because I have a side gig of writing, starting a podcast, and joining The Great Love Debate on tour. I shared how just a few weeks ago I was interviewing Ben Higgins from The Bachelor for my podcast and before I could get too into describing my side hustle in full detail, she cut me off saying, “Wow, your life is so glamorous, why would you want to go get a job at a magazine?”
It was a valid question. Suddenly, I found myself dumbstruck by what she had asked me. As I drove home that night I started to reflect on what caused me to go out and get a “real” job. You know why I took the job? Because I felt like it was something I should do. I allowed fear to step in. The thought alone put me in a tailspin almost all week. I spent majority of my time feeling terrible, tears flowing, feeling like I had taken ten steps forward only to end up behind in the end. I felt like I let myself down and given up on the chance of one day building The Dime Series into a brand that made a difference in people’s lives? Thankfully, by Friday I was able to gain the clarity I needed with the help of my amazing friends and family. Yes, I made a choice that may have seemed like a step backwards, but the lessons I’m learning are going to be the very thing that propels me closer to the ultimate dream of building my brand. Without learning that authentic connection is the only way to build a relationship with people, I would be that much more behind in the process. But the most important part of the story is that I learned how to pivot. I made a choice that didn’t seem to fit in with this glamorous life I wanted to build, but every choice you make does serve a purpose- I can promise you that. Getting to know yourself takes a lot of time. Think about it, all our lives we’re influenced by others about what type of job is acceptable and honorable, what kind of person we should be attracted to, how we should dress and the proper way to act in society. It’s taken me my whole life up until this point to be able to finally decide for myself how I want to live my life for ME.
If you’re like me and struggled to dream for yourself about what type of career, relationship or life was right for you, I invite you to learn the power behind pivoting. When I think of the word pivot, all I hear is Ross Gellar from Friends screaming “PIVOT!” in my ear. What I mean by learning to pivot is I want you to learn to give yourself a break. I don’t know about you, but I tend to be a kinesthetic learner. I have to experience something for myself to get the full effect. I can’t read about what types of things to avoid, I could listen to motivational stories all day, but the fact is, in order to truly grow, I need to experience it for myself. There really is no such thing as failure, it’s all how we choose to perceive it. I could see taking a day job as a failure, or use it as a gauge to my gut- telling me if I’m on the right path or not. And if not, I pivot. If a relationship you’ve entered isn’t serving you, PIVOT. If a job isn’t giving you what you need, ignore the fear and PIVOT. Don’t beat yourself up and label everything that doesn’t serve you as a failure of some sort. It’s not a failure if you learn from it or if it guides you in some way. One of the best ways to find clarity is to “fail” because when you fail, you gain a clear picture of what you don’t want and slowly begin to chip away at the picture of what you do want. Stop putting pressure on yourself to have it all figured out, because the truth is that none of us have everything figured out. Most people are just unwilling to ever show a vulnerable side and admit to having feelings of failure and regret. But that doesn’t mean those feelings don’t exist for all of us.
Having the woman at my office say to me, “You’re so lucky, you get to travel and write and create this dream life” got me thinking. I thought, I hope that’s not the image I’m giving to my readers. If it is, allow me to give you some truth juice. What you don’t see is that I feel like I’ve failed on some level nearly every day. This week was just one of those times where nothing was ever enough. Some days I question my writing career, question my amount of followers and feel like I’m not providing enough content to make a difference. But that’s just fear setting in and we all feel that at one point or another. I struggle, I fall and I fail and so does everyone else! They just might not be as honest about it. When the clouds settle in, I have no choice but to pick myself up and start again- I pivot. And so should you.
So, tomorrow starts a whole new week and if you allow it, a whole new perspective. This week, my question is this: Will you start again with me? Will you start seeing your past let downs as a chance to pivot in the direction that is closer to your dreams? Do something scary and take the leap. I hope this helps you in some way. It might not be the best thing I’ve ever written, but it is most certainly the realest thing I’ve written in a long time.
Until next week, Dimes.
Michele is a former St. Louis Rams Cheerleader living in St. Louis. Follow Michele from the sidelines of the NFL to the sidelines of the modern dating world.