“Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world. ” – Archimedes
Where do human beings find the capacity to overcome obstacles, solve challenges, and navigate the uncertainty and complexity of the world?
Most people think that ultimate leverage over problems comes from a place out “there”. Somewhere in the world, through hidden knowledge or secret strategies, lies dormant whatever it is that will unleash our greatest capacities. This approach, seeking external solutions to worldly problems, makes sense at first. If I’m struggling with something, say, a tricky political issue at work or a means to grow my business, a logical place to seek solutions is in something outside of myself. After all, if the solutions were already within me, I wouldn’t have any problems! Even better, someone else must have solved the problem already, so why should I struggle with it?
This thinking has spawned a multi-billion training – and yes, a coaching industry too! Books on habit-building, time management, and 7-steps formulas for business, career, and life greatness are perennial best-sellers. The problem with all these “how-to-achieve-success” books is that they ignore the ultimate source of leverage in life.
I don’t know what Archimedes meant by the quote at the top of this email, but it probably related to the movement of physical objects in the world. This begs the question, what led to the original “insight” that a lever and fulcrum could be used to move objects? At some point in time, someone figured this out without reading it in a book! My understanding of where the fulcrum and leverage are is based on years of experience as a coach, and many more in exploring the worlds of personal development, yoga, and spirituality.
The most effective fulcrum is within oneself.
The ultimate lever is a deep understanding of the mind.
I remember the day I had the insight to leave my previous line of work over seven years ago. It hit me like a ton of bricks. My intellect couldn’t make sense of it, but I knew it was worth listening to. I wrote a blog last week about this extended sabbatical. I also remember the countless insights and click-moments that led me from that moment to where I am now in running an independent business as a Coach. Did I occasionally seek external advice or counsel on my journey? Of course! It can be fun to learn and explore ideas and strategies with others. Occasionally, something helpful can come along from it.
However, the most transformational results always came from something that I realized for myself. Sometimes (all too often actually!), my realizations conflicted with what I was doing or what “experts” were telling me. In each case, I did my best to adjust my approach based on a deeper sense of what to do, bubbling up from inside myself. What I have learned is that when we better understand that the human mind generates both noise and signal, and seek to understand the nuance of both, we find the leverage and most solid fulcrum on which to stand, emanating from the innate capacity of the mind.