Note: I’m sharing a draft of a work in progress. In her endorsement at the beginning of the book, Shushan Aleaqui said: “[Lynn] offers us a gift by focusing on your growth and your awareness as well as the tools to be better leaders. This book is now one of the must-read workbooks that I use in my coaching and consulting practice with my executive clients.” Shushan later said this: “Lynn, this book deserves a workbook. When are you going to do one?”
The answer to her question is – now. I just sent the manuscript for Dancing the Tightrope to my editor and that leaves me some writing time to work on a workbook. With the help of my daughter and inspirer Jen, we’ve laid out the basic pieces of the workbook. The first is the introduction, which I’m sharing below.
As always, I’m open to feedback about this piece. When you read the following, what makes it good? What would make it even better?
The Elegant Pivot Workbook Introduction
When I first published my book “The Elegant Pivot, An Inspired Move for Navigating Corporate Politics” my primary intention was to enliven the idea with more stories and examples following my TEDx speech from 2015. In the intervening years, I found the principles in the book stood the tests of real life, whether applying them to myself or in my coaching conversations. Writing a book seemed to be a good answer to the question of how to share a transformative idea that works ... when correctly applied.
Plus, truth be told, I thought writing a book would give others the shortcuts I longed for when I first learned to assume positive intent.
Except a book – nor a TED talk - doesn’t necessarily transform us. Liking an idea and applying that idea are worlds apart.
Our brains really prefer to just go ahead and jump to conclusions. It’s quick, easy and sometimes fun. It’s also the cause of more strife than I care to think about.
Training our brains to follow the uncharted path – that’s an uphill climb. Worthwhile, but difficult.
That’s the purpose of this workbook: To help you help your brain slow down, open up and pivot from assuming negative intent to assuming positive intent.
We must start with acknowledging that we ALL have a gap between someone’s real intentions and what we think those intentions are. Closing that gap is quite difficult. For me, it requires acknowledging my own mistakes, digging into my unspoken beliefs and biases, and opening up both ears to listen to what is really going on. In other words, in order to actually DO the elegant pivot, I have to be the one to change.
That is not the answer I was initially looking for.
We also must acknowledge that the negative stuff we see in others intentions comes from our own personal filters. We are the ones deciding what to focus on. When all I can see is the negative, it’s probably because I feel insecure and have put my walls up.
Put those two together and you realize that to assume positive intent means I have to change and the primary change I have to make is to take down my defenses and get curious.
Therein lies the problem with The Elegant Pivot. The brain shortcuts us to a question that looks like this: If the other person is the one being awful, why do I have to be the one to change and furthermore, go defenseless? (I know this one because I’ve thought it thousands of times.)
Assuming positive intent seen through this lens looks like a fool’s errand.
However, we can pivot to view the problem differently. Notice who has all the power here. Who is easier to change, me or the other person? Would I rather have a life huddled behind my walls, seeing ill will at every turn or a life where I’m curious, exploring, and able to handle and even transform the negativity coming my way?
If the answer is the latter, this workbook is designed to help you do the personal work to strengthen your inner landscape. You can handle more than you think you can. You can risk giving someone the benefit of the doubt. You can be the one who transforms a negative into a positive.
Whether you are excited or skeptical, (I’ve been both) I can assure you that the journey of strengthening your SELF is fraught with land mines on the path to greener pastures. The choice to stay the same, seeing trouble everywhere, or change your lens and open to new possibilities is yours.
This workbook is designed to help you strengthen your inner landscape through exercises, practices, and the tools of self-awareness. It’s organized to follow the flow of the book, starting with understanding your brain on The Ladder of Inference. After that, you will learn more about yourself as you apply the five main principles in the book:
- Discern Signal From Noise
- Focus on What You Want
- Take Nothing Personally
- Master Your Stories
- Develop a Spirit of Inquiry
You will also learn more about the characters in your life, from Blameless Bobby and Accidental Annie to Provocative Peter and Fighting Francis. Rarely do these characters wake up in the morning planning to ruin your day. However, all too often, we allow an incident or moment to ruin our day rather than exercising our power to pivot the situation.
While the sub-title of the book refers to “corporate politics”, the four characters in the book also show up in personal relationships, non-profit boards, the airport and the grocery store. The same principles apply in all of these domains, and we are actually the central character. We can’t control what others do, but we do get to choose our response. I find it useful to think of myself as a scriptwriter, with the option to write multiple endings to the story.
So what do you say? Ready to pick up the pen and write a new story? Let’s get started.