An Object in Motion

Detail of one of the old gas engines at Amberl... In Chapter 8 of Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap ... and Others Don't (HarperCollins, 2001), Jim Collins tells the story of a massive flywheel measuring 30 feet in diameter, 2 feet thick, and weighing roughly 5,000 pounds. Your job, he writes, is to push the flywheel and to get it going as fast as possible. So you push, exerting considerable effort for several hours, until you manage to move the flywheel in one full rotation.

Exerting the same effort, you push it into a second rotation. You continue this consistent, concentrated effort until it seems to get easier and the flywheel rotates with barely any effort. Then, suddenly, whoosh! The flywheel takes off on its own accord, rotating faster and faster, thousands of times, building on each previous investment of effort.

In response to the person who asks what was the one big push that caused the flywheel to go so fast, he writes, "It was all of them added together in an overall accumulation of effort applied in a consistent direction."

If you are executing your own Mission:2013 or carrying out any other set of goals or plans for the year, you are at the beginning. You're excited. You're hungry. But it doesn't feel like it's going anywhere and it is hard. If this level of effort is required to keep going, you think, I quit.

It won't. Taking small consistent steps in the same direction will get you where you want to go, even though the going will be slooooooooow in the beginning. Eventually, the going will get a little easier. Things will fall into place with a little less effort. For writers, words will flow like honey instead of molasses. For entrepreneurs, you'll make two sales in a day instead of one. And then four, then eight, and then even twenty.

Eventually, your breakthrough will come, and you will succeed.

"[W]hen a thing is in motion it will eternally be in motion unless somewhat else stay it." Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes

This post was modified on May 29, 2015.