We live in ruts. It’s easier that way. But every once in a while we choose to boldly step out of the rut or we get jolted out by some crisis. Even boldly stepping out is usually preceded by some life-changing event, e.g., getting fired, losing or gaining a loved one, a near-death experience. During these life -changing moments, these pivotal points, our old defenses weaken, giving us a chance to explore a new path.
Our new path can be constructive or destructive and might be a mixture of both. Every step of our lives requires a decision on our part, whether it’s to stay in our rut or to break free. Maturity is about making these decisions and then accepting responsibility for the consequences.
I know a man who felt trapped in a passive life. One day at the gym, he looked through a glass wall and saw other men playing basketball. He longed to join the game but felt frozen by fear. The pivot point occurred when he saw his own dispirited expression reflected back from the glass. Observing his frozen state superimposed on the game tipped the scale. He signed up for basketball and found a freedom and an aggressive side that eventually led to other bold decisions. Another man got on an old motorcycle and attempted to go thousands of miles westward, away from an unhappy life. A fairly minor accident ended his odyssey, but he became more emboldened by his courageous decision and used this pivot point to inspire more growth.
In the 8th grade, I was challenged by my teacher, Mrs. Adams, who thought I’d do well in school plays. However, students had to be in the Beta Club, requiring a B average, for participation in school theatrical productions. My grades were unremarkable, hovering in the C range. It meant a lot that this teacher noticed me and reached out. I decided to take her challenge. My grades rose above the necessary B level and I became a top student. This led to a path of academic achievement, graduate schools, and partnering with my very smart spouse. Glad I took the challenge and pivoted on that point.