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The Strategic Magic of Embracing the "Tilt"

Jennifer Mulholland & Jeff Shuck
August 30, 2016

If you're like most people, the idea of embracing discomfort and uncertainty has you thinking "Why in the world would I want to do that?" It's a fair reaction considering our minds are not wired to naturally embrace uncomfortable or seemingly-perilous situations. In fact, our brains actually suggest the opposite: Run away! 

So why would you want to embrace discomfort?

In a word: Opportunity

Let’s zoom our lens out a bit. Our blue-and-green dot of a planet, Earth, operates on a constant, natural tilt. Depending on where it falls during its 40,000-year cycle, Earth’s axis leans anywhere between 22.1 and 24.5 degrees. Everyday, our world is twenty-something degrees off-center. Earth’s axis is constantly askew, and yet our planet continues blissfully rotating as it has done for 4.5 billion years. 

Unfortunately, what we see when we zoom back in is a different story. Though we are living in an inherently "tilted" world, we attempt to operate in a constant linear fashion. Each of us on the never-ending search for perfection, exactness, and control. On the managerial and executive micro-level, the tilt is avoided at almost any cost instead of being embraced. We view success as a linear progression — forward and upward only. This perspective causes us to build cultures where change isn't welcome, disruption isn't capitalized on, and failure not built upon. The problem with this system is that it drives out individuality and idealism as these qualities are the breeding grounds for the trial and error mentality. Which in turn has led to a lack of creativity and ingenuity from individuals and teams, resulting in stagnant and irrelevant organizations. 

So the question is, why not embrace the tilt?

Embracing the tilt doesn't mean you are no longer striving for excellence or success, and it absolutely doesn't mean you become content with mediocrity, but it does mean that instead of trying to perfect, micro-manage, or predict you innovate, experiment, and remain open to unexpected opportunities. Encouraging an organizational culture of tilt begins by welcoming the discomfort that comes when we allow for mistakesdifferent perspectives, and disappointments. It means that when we fail, we appreciate the opportunity to try again with a new perspective instead of giving up altogether. It means recognizing that it is impossible to chart a certain path through uncertain waters. The amazing thing, and something we have witnessed here at Plenty as well as with our clients, is that when we open ourselves up to these opportunities we allow for unimaginable growth and new ways forward that we never could have envisioned.

By viewing the tilt as something to be embraced and appreciated as opposed to a hindrance, we create space for our true potential to emerge. In an increasingly competitive world, those who are willing to take risks, step out of their comfort zone and into the discomfort of uncertainty will be those who reap the biggest rewards.

The age-old adage rings true here: Tilt is not an "if", but a "when." You can't stop the world from tilting, so live into the natural state of our planet and accept its skewed, messy beauty. Welcome and encourage it because when your environment mirrors the natural tilt of the world, discomfort is inevitable, but just beyond the discomfort is where our highest possibilities lie.

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