If the past 15 months have taught us anything, it’s that change is part of the deal. In our experience, the people (and organizations) who have navigated the pandemic most successfully have been the ones who prioritized flexibility, held their commitments lightly, and ignored sunk costs.
None of this is easy: great ideas are hard to release (even if they are decidedly not working), and once we get going on a path, turning around can feel impossible. But not pivoting can be ruinous.
In the wise words of Frozen: sometimes you just need to let it go.
Your commitments matter, and you should honor them. But sometimes, a promise made in one season doesn’t hold up in the next. Sometimes, you design a great campaign and then funding priorities change. Sometimes, you take a job and then realize that it’s not a good cultural fit. And sometimes, you create a comprehensive strategic plan and then a global pandemic disrupts literally everything (you know, hypothetically…).
It is ok to change your mind.
The best leaders are the ones who are able to say they were wrong. The ones who are willing to do the hard work of changing course. The ones who know when to dig in—and when to give up. The ones who know that sticking with a bad idea is way more costly than losing what you’ve already invested.
Remember that ship that got stuck in Suez Canal in March? There’s an extended metaphor in that story for all of us…
Staying on the wrong course (even just a few degrees off) can be disastrous. And at a certain point, you’re stuck. Turning around—or even moving at all—once it’s too late requires huge amounts of effort, time, human labor, intellectual capital, and money.
So consider this your hall pass to wave the white flag. Own your mistakes. Change your mind. Say something as soon as you realize things aren’t going well. Be ready to pivot.
Changing course is ok—and sometimes, it’s the only way to keep moving forward.