In the NFL, I played the position of center, often known as the “pivot” because of its central location on the field. The center is in the middle of the offensive formation and because he starts the play with the ball, the formation of the offense is dictated by where the center lines up. Some may say it’s the most pivotal position on the field because without a clean snap to the quarterback, the play has no chance for success. (Or maybe that’s just how a former center sees it).
In that sense, the word pivot is being used as a noun. It is the central place on the field. The pivot of a city is often the metropolitan area in which all the rest of the city revolves around. The pivot of a house is usually the kitchen, from which all other rooms of the house flow off of. The pivot of an organization would be the leader, from and to which all decisions are made and/or passed through.
Then there’s the pivot that requires action. I’ve had my share of experiences in this kind of pivoting, both on and off the football field. It was at the height of my career playing in the pivot back in early 2018 when a surprise neck injury diagnosis ended it all for me. I was forced to pivot in my career and from a lifestyle that I was very accustomed to living.
A Worldwide Storm
COVID-19 has forced people around the world to make a different type of pivot. It has forced people to stay in their homes and socially distance themselves from one another It has forced businesses, churches, sporting events, concerts, theaters, and so many other entities to come to a halt. Yet just because everyone seems to be in the same boat, does not mean the storm everyone is facing is the same.
In basketball, a pivot is the act of stepping in any direction with one foot while keeping the other in place and in contact with the floor. In a similar fashion, Americans are being required to forego non-essential travel and keep both feet in place, yet many are out of work, locked out of their churches, gyms and most other places where they often find purpose and pleasure.
So how do you pivot at a time like this?
- Fill your mind with the right thoughts
Proverbs 23:7 states, “For as a man thinketh, so he is”. What you think about is what you will become. This is an incredibly difficult time for so many right now, and it’s extremely vital that we fill our heads with the right thoughts. How are you spending the first 20 minutes of your day? Many scholars believe the answer to that question has a very consequential impact on the rest of your day.
Are you waking up, scrolling social media, responding to never-ending work emails and text messages? Consider replacing those behaviors with more uplifting ones such as meditation, prayer, journaling, or simply thinking about what you are grateful for.
The perfect start to my day is 20 minutes filled with rehearsing my weekly memory verse from the Bible while brushing my teeth, doing my Christian Gratitude Journal entry for the day, reading one to two chapters of the Bible, and praying. By doing those four simple things I put myself in the proper headspace I need to be in an optimistic, motivated, and productive spot for the rest of the day.
- Prioritize your loved ones
The CoronaVirus has sequestered us all in our homes for a longer length of time than we are used to. Use this time to connect with your loved ones on a deeper level. For those that are living alone, use virtual platforms to connect with your family more than you usually would. Having relational goals during this time is just as important as knocking out to-do lists at work. Your family is going to be struggling during this time and the more you can pour into them, the more rewarding it will be for you personally and in your relationships.
In the past four weeks, I have really missed taking my girls on dates. Grace and I usually go on a “Daddy & Gracie” date once a week. Those aren’t completely off the table but they definitely look a lot different than they used to. We cannot eat at our favorite sushi spot anymore, but we have been able to get carry-out a couple of times to support them. We recently took a ride together to donate supplies to an organization in an unprivileged part of Louisville that is feeding children lunch every day. We listened to goofy music on the way downtown and back, and that’s her favorite. It was an easy way for us to connect.
When it comes to my wife Leslie, I have missed taking her out to nice dinners, ball games, and concerts. We try to get a date night in with just the two of us at least once a week. Instead, my most recent date with her was she rode in the cart with me while I played golf. We had a few drinks and had the country music cranked up. We got to laugh together, and she admitted it was a lot more fun than she thought it was going to be.
I share all this to say: Find ways to connect with your wife, family, and loved ones during this time, and don’t be afraid to try something you haven’t done before!
- Prioritize your health
I recently had Dr. Ara Suppiah on my podcast, What’s Next with Eric Wood, and he gave great advice for staying healthy amidst the CoronaVirus pandemic. He advised against taxing your system too hard, depleting yourself, and causing your immune system to compromise in this season, but said working out is a great way to stay healthy. Nutritious food is always key when attempting to fend off illness and now is the time to focus on finding that healthy balance.
I try to move my body every day. Some days my workout is walking the golf course for a round of golf or walking the dog around our neighborhood with the kids. Other days, I hit a Peloton ride, where I have a lot of fun competing against buddies, but I try not to push myself to my absolute limits. I will also lift weights some days in our home gym. For those that don’t have a home gym or any exercise equipment, there are plenty of body weight exercise routines online you can follow for free, or simply get outside and get your body moving with a walk or a jog!
- Prioritize your spiritual life
Being forced to slow down right now is a gift for us all. We have the time and space to establish a spiritual routine that allows us to keep proper perspective through this time. I have encouraged my men’s group at church to try to memorize a different verse of scripture each week so that however long this pandemic lasts is how many new versus they will have planted deep in their hearts. Memorizing scripture is a great way of programming your brain to keep an eternal perspective and keep hope during tough times.
Mine so far have been…
“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ”
1 Corinthians 1:11
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock” Matthew 7:24-25
“The Lord will fight for you. You need only to be still”
- Learn a new skill
Many people have been laid off from work or are losing their business due to the pandemic. Consider using this time to learn a new skill — there’s a ton of online training going on right now! You may need to make a shift in your career that will leave you grateful for this time the rest of your life. You may be able to use this downtime from work to gain a new credential that makes your current or next employer find you more valuable than you were prior to this pandemic.
Now I realize that with the worry and stress of economic uncertainty, pivoting toward learning a new skill when you might be wondering where your next paycheck is coming from is easier said than done. I said before that while it may seem we are all in the same boat, we are not all going through the same storm.
I cannot begin to comprehend how tough this may be for some of your reading this. I can only offer empathy and share my own fears and concerns. If this pandemic lasts until football season, I will be potentially faced with my own version of loss. Rather than worry about what I cannot change, I am trying to pivot my energy into focusing on learning or improving other skills.
Such as my golf game.
I love to compete and with the amount of damage I did to my body by playing football for such a long time, golf has become a great way for me to get out there and still be able to compete. I played when I was a kid and then didn’t play at all through high school and college. While playing football for the Buffalo Bills, I would play in the off-season but the weather up there did not allow for long seasons of practice. Now that I have free time on my hands, I’m trying to lower my handicap and get to the point where I can compete with some of my buddies who are excellent players!
- Surround yourself with others on the same mission
I’ve heard it said that we become the average of the five people we spend the most time with. Are you communicating and connecting with the people you want to be like in life right now?
Be careful of who you are spending time with, even if it is only virtually.
I still connect with my men’s group from church online each week for over an hour on Thursday mornings. I am keeping up through texts with buddies that hold me accountable to be the man I want to be. I communicate with other men in my circle about workouts on most days. And I play golf with guys that are better than me in hopes of getting better through osmosis! 🙂
Finally, remember to give yourself some grace
There is so much we can do to improve our mental, physical, spiritual, relational, and skill game, but please remember this:
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself right now.
This is such a difficult time for so many. Nearly every person in the world is affected by COVID-19, some in tougher ways than others. If you are trying to save a family business right now and that’s all you have time for, applaud your efforts and take solace in the fact that you’re giving your all to it.
If you struggle with mental health issues and this pandemic has sent you over the edge at times, give yourself some grace and understand this season will pass.
If (like me), you have eaten too much take-out and justify it by posting online that you’re “supporting local”, give yourself some grace and don’t feel guilty about more poor nutrition choices.
Be intentional with your actions and thoughts during this time. Take what serves you from this read and leave what doesn’t apply, well enough alone. You don’t have to be perfect. Remember there has only ever been one perfect person who walked this earth, and we nailed him to a cross.
God’s got this. So let’s all be child-like and as we learn to pivot, trust that this too shall pass.