Thursday, November 13, 2008

Mu, F sub N, and Your Life

The words "coefficient of static friction" are enough to make even the most nerdy reader slip into a coma.  It's like starting a comedy routine with an obituary.  But hang in there, grab a tasty beverage and come along for the ride, today's post is a short one.

Reach way back to, I don't remember what class it was.  But somewhere about high school it used to be taught that the amount of energy to get an object moving was exponentially more than it took to keep it moving once it started.  Let's say you're Spencer Johnson's proverbial mouse (Who Moved My Cheese).  You have a higher intellect than your peers so you use a periscope to spot the new location of the cheese, blast those pesky walls down with a little plastic explosive and create a clear path between your new mouse-house and the perfect piece of cheese.  The only rope you find is elastic so you tie it around the very heavy cheeese, around your waist, and you start to pull.  As the little mouse sweat starts to bead and your mouse muscles start to burn you stretch the elastic almost to its limit.  Suddenly the cheese starts to slowly move.  You broke through the static friction and and are now dealing with a much smaller force; kinetic friction.

What does any of this have to do with success, especially in business?  Consider the amount of energy it takes to get a thing moving, to get it going.  If you're not ready it will break you.  You'll lighten up, lose your grip, or buckle under.  Remember that elastic rope.  What happens next?  Yep, you go zipping back, SPLAT, right into the cheese.  Taking the extra steps, small as they may be, and keeping the pressure focused ahead will eventually move the thing forward.  Don't give up too soon and don't underestimate the amount of energy it takes to get things moving.

Once things are moving a common mistake is to turn around and look at your progress.  How cool; that thing is moving along nicely now!  Remember the elastic.  SMACK, it'll plow you over if you've created enough momentum.  Don't stop in its path.  Keep the pressure on and keep it moving.  There will come a time to back off and gradually engage in the eating process.  Not now.  When the path looks rough ahead, it's time to accelerate.  Keep the big mo working for you and don't forget the consequences of stopping.  Fighting the ups and downs of kinetic friction beats the challenge of overcoming static friction again any day.

Oh, and one more thing.  No whining with the movement of the cheese.  Wine goes well with cheese.  Whine goes well with nothing.

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