Think like a grasshopper

and reclaim that overused buzzword, “pivot.”

Adrian Hanft

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Dear friend,

The paths I run cut right through grasslands, interrupting the habitat of bugs that weren’t built for sidewalks. The pavement is caked with the carcasses of grasshoppers who failed to escape the treads of running shoes and tires.

From ground level it must feel like a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Bug husks and dismembered legs litter the landscape while the surviving grasshoppers suck the guts out of their fallen comrades. Jiminy Cricket, that must be a hard life.

I don’t intentionally crunch these little critters but I don’t particularly alter my route to protect their crispy skeletons. I watch them to see if there is a pattern that predicts which of the jumpers survive and which ones are destined to become streaks of goo painting the pavement.

Here’s what you’ll notice…

The losers see danger coming and trip over themselves to get out of the way. Their misplaced jumps land them in spots just as deadly as if they had never jumped in the first place.

But the survivors have a different technique…

The instant they sense danger they pause for a fraction of a second. Blink and you might miss it, but right before they fire their leg canons they rotate their body. It’s kind of like the needle on a compass, they align to a trajectory that points to a destination with a high likelihood of safety. Then they release all the energy stored in their legs and escape in a long arching jump that leaves the carnage behind.

I want to reclaim a word that that I have formerly banned from my vocabulary. You tend to hear it come from the mouths of leaders who have steered their company, product, team, or career beneath the tires of oncoming traffic. “Pivot” they love to say. Corporate people latched onto the word because it sounds like you are in control, like you have a plan, it’s a way to deny doom and shirk responsibility when the tennis shoe of life has just squished you into the cement. Of course smart grasshoppers pivot before the death blow strikes. The best teams are pivoting all the time, if you aren’t paying careful attention you might not even notice the tiny adjustments. Find a team like that and you just might survive the oncoming traffic.

Stay creative.

Your friend,
Adrian

P.S. If you like this idea, you should sign up for Letter Zero where this story originated. Or heck, just commit completely and buy my book, User Zero.

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Adrian Hanft

Author of User Zero: Inside the Tool that is Reshaping Dystopia