How often have you felt something you’re doing is utterly pointless and worth giving up on? Perhaps you’ve been exercising for the last 6-months with no visible improvement or you’ve been hacking away at your startup idea for quite some length with no real breakthrough?
I’d love to say I’ve been there, and here’s how I overcame it but quite frankly I’m still there. But I have seen sparks of momentum in my own projects. This week I’ll share with you the concept of The Flywheel Effect by Jim Collins on how most of us give up just before the momentum is about to strike and how any effort towards a task is still a magnificent one.
Success is not a random act. It arises out of a predictable and powerful set of circumstances and opportunities. — Malcolm Gladwell (Outliers)
One of the circumstances we most definitely have control over is our ability to hasten momentum and success by continually turning up and giving our best.
What is The Flywheel Effect?
First coined by Jim Collins in the book Good To Great, The Flywheel Effect simply denotes this idea that momentum and huge projects/goals cannot materialise in a single act or effort. For great things to happen, we must keep pushing continually, trying again and again, until a breakthrough point is reached. From this point onwards, the momentum itself will allow us to achieve what once seemed impossible. Here’s how Collins describes it:
Picture a huge, heavy flywheel — a massive metal disk mounted horizontally on an axle, about 30 feet in diameter, 2 feet thick, and weighing about 5,000 pounds.
Now imagine that your task is to get the flywheel rotating on the axle as fast and long as possible. Pushing with great effort, you get the flywheel to inch forward, moving almost imperceptibly at first. You keep pushing and, after two or three hours of persistent effort, you get the flywheel to complete one entire turn.
You keep pushing, and the flywheel begins to move a bit faster, and with continued great effort, you move it around a second rotation. You keep pushing in a consistent direction. Three turns. Four turns. Five turns.
Then, at some point — breakthrough! The momentum kicks in in your favor, hurling the flywheel forward, turn after turn. Each turn of the flywheel builds upon work done earlier, compounding your investment of effort. A thousand times faster, then ten thousand, then a hundred thousand.
How do I apply The Flywheel Effect?
The essence of it is that we cannot reasonably give up after only having made a few futile attempts.
Whilst there isn’t a way for you to actively implement this concept into your workflow, you can apply it to your thought processes to understand that results and real momentum often take a long-time and therefore giving up early could be the worst thing you do for yourself.
Secondly, consider Collins’ analogy of the flywheel and each turn representing a single attempt. In my case, this would be a single newsletter article or YouTube video. The question I like to ask myself is how can I make my next attempt 1% better than the previous? Why? This helps to ensure my next piece of content has a better chance at turning the flywheel with more force and therefore more likely to induce this idea of continuous self-fuelling momentum.
For me realising The Flywheel Effect quite early on in my creative outlet has been hugely beneficial in combating hopelessness and a sense of failure. To put it frankly, I’ve only been creating content online via this newsletter for the past four or so months and now on YouTube for 3-weeks. I cannot reasonably expect anything big to have happened already. But I know my efforts are only adding to the momentum of the flywheel. I’m already beginning to see some growth from the increasing number of you who get in touch (hit me up, say hi) and from appearing as a guest post on Ali's newsletter so I can only be hopeful that good things will come.
It’s rarely pointless. Keep hacking away at what you do. Good things come.
What do you think? Let me know, hit me up on socials. 👋🏾
Enjoyed this? Receive new post updates and a weekly newsletter on being a better you. No spam, no fluff and unsubscribe at anytime! 🚀