How does Newton’s First Law apply to YOU?
Newton’s got a few laws doesn’t he… do you remember any of them from high school science class?
Start by remembering the first one…
“Newton’s first law states that every object will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless compelled to change its state by the action of an external force.
This is normally taken as the definition of inertia.”
Are you in a state of inertia right now?
Are you standing still? Or perhaps, are you headed in a straight line but unable to change direction?
Groundhog Day is that 1993 film with Bill Murray where he lives the exact same day on repeat every single day. Murray’s character is stuck in a time loop that no one else notices.
He wakes up to the same song, the same conversation on the radio, and sees the same events in the same town every single day.
Imagine you were living Groundhog Day… or maybe, you already are?
Is everyday the same day in six-out-of-ten-life for you? Is it not a painful one, two or three, but just middle enough that you keep going without really loving it?
Just like in the film Groundhog Day, though you live the same day everyday, no one else is going to notice your time loop. No one is going to pull you out. It’s up to you.
Beware. Inertia is a sticky web that keeps spinning around you.
Take an imaginary young man, named Francis. Now let’s say Francis really would love to be an astronaut, that his dream is to go up into space.
Only Francis comes from a mining town, and he doesn’t know anyone who’s ever been to space, anyone who is an aerospace engineer, or anyone with any ties to SpaceX or NASA.
All Francis’ friends want to be miners, not astronauts. So after school, they all shift straight away into the miners’ lifestyle – working long days and going to the pub at night.
Francis doesn’t have other friends or other options, so he goes with them. As he can’t afford rent he needs a job, and the only jobs in town are mining jobs, so he takes a mining job too.
Francis has found himself in a mining life.
With each day, Francis gets more and more accustomed to nightly drinking. He also gets more and more accustomed to the miners’ paycheque.
He also gets more and more accustomed to the miners’ mindset. There’s nothing particularly wrong with the miners’ mindset, but Francis always wanted to be an astronaut, you see?
At the pub each night, Francis’ friends like to have a bit of a bet, a gamble, a roll on the slot machines, to add a bit of excitement to the day. With precious few alternatives, Francis starts to play the slot machines too.
One day a NASA engineer comes through the town.
Francis notices the NASA logo on the engineer’s bag. She is a lady some ten years older than him – he approaches her and gets to learn about her exciting life, career and work. Francis tells her about his dream of becoming an astronaut.
She is excited to help! She explains the degree he needs to do and their intern program which runs on the other side of the country. Francis bulks at the price. She leaves him her card and tells him to call her.
With that, the engineer leaves.
Francis is a little scared, and a little excited.
He thinks How will I afford these studies? As he’s gambled away all his money and he also wonders How will I move across the country on my own?
A day passes. I’ll call her tomorrow he thinks.
But a second day passes. Francis goes from the mines straight to the pub. There was no time today, I’ll call her tomorrow he thinks.
But tomorrow, after making some separate time he bumps into a friend who distracts him. “Are you coming to the pub Francis?” the friend says.
I’ll call her tomorrow.
And this pattern goes on and on until Francis thinks, It’s been too long, I can’t call.
Inertia is often a sticky web that becomes stickier over time.
The longer you head in one direction, the more force it takes to shift you from that direction.
Bring on the external force
“Newton’s first law states that every object will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless compelled to change its state by the action of an external force.”
If you’re headed in one direction for too long, sometimes it takes a real ‘car crash moment’ to jolt you and put you in another direction. In other words…
“If you do what you always did, you’ll get what you always got”
On the internet I’ve seen this quote attributed to Tony Robbins, to Albert Einstein and Henry Ford. I don’t know who it is originally attributed to but it is one of the most important lines you’ll ever hear.
How will things change in your business if your strategy, you people and your attitude all remain the same? If you keep trying the same or similar things over and over?
How will your relationship improve if you keep doing everything the same?
How will you break inertia, break Groundhog Day, break six-out-of-ten-life or get off the pleasure treadmill if you keep doing what you’ve always done?
“If you do what you always did, you’ll get what you always got”.
So start opening doors.
The journey from inertia to momentum starts by opening doors. Start thinking about your life and the lives of those around you through the understanding of Newton’s Laws and the principles of physics.
To find an external force you need to start opening doors. Even if you don’t know what lies behind them, staying in the room you’re in will guarantee two things – the first is that nothing will change. The second is that you will die in that room.
So ask yourself. Do you want to die whilst doing what you’re doing right now? Did you choose the miners’ life, and are you happy to die doing it?
Of course we have a saying here “the best way to open a thousand doors for you is to open doors for others”. It’s also by doing and trying things, and by opening enough doors you can break the sticky web of inertia and build momentum for new and better things.