Pivotal Refinement

PR for the 21st Century

Of late, I find myself worrying much less about how my work is perceived by the public (PR in the traditional sense) and more about what I can take from previous work as I refine and pivot in exciting new directions — Pivotal Refinement. I don’t see work as an obvious single path, but instead a series of pivots, each made better by incremental refinement from previous learning. Stubborn persistence and awareness of others’ perceptions can certainly be beneficial, but only insofar as it leads efficiently to an attainable end. Lately, I’ve found it much more rewarding (personally and professionally) to persistently pivot, routinely reroute, and intentionally create daily deviations in order to cultivate fresh perspectives on what’s possible. Every pivot is initially accompanied by apprehension, but with the unease comes new understandings and appreciation for what was learned previously. The more you strategically pivot, the more you discover personal cognitive connections and incremental added value. In theory, this should lead to a trend line whose inevitable regressions are always counteracted, leading to a generally positive trajectory over time.

Take a quick dive into the creative processes of the most prolific inventors and you’re likely to see a theme of pivotal refinement (perhaps in other terms). Take Lowell Wood for example — an astrophysicist, a self-trained paleontologist and computer scientist, and the most prolific inventor in U.S. history. Wood may be the definition of genius, but a résumé like his only comes from a willingness to constantly change directions and apply previous insights to new interests. Ashlee Vance of Bloomberg Business wrote an article on my birthday; a particularly compelling exploration of the genius that is Lowell Wood: How An F Student Became America’s Most Prolific Inventor.

Becoming proficient within a single vein of work is rewarding, but take a chance on a run of pivots, and you just might look back on your initial work and realize that your courage towards Pivotal Refinement led to something greater than you ever could have achieved prior to the series of unlikely leaps.

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