Friday, January 04, 2008

Laws of Motion

The wonderful part of this time of the year is that everyone is thinking about how to enact change. Because of this it is also the perfect time for leaders to take advantage of people’s new outlook on performance and change, and assist them in reaching their goals. As those who surround you are looking to change their physical selves, leadership also needs to look at new ways to lead, therefore assisting in the facilitation of change.

As people are looking to move in new directions, both leaders and followers need to understand principles of movement if they are to actually create the change that they are looking for. One way to understand the relationship between the physical body and movement is to look at Newton’s 3 laws of motion and relate them to the movement you are seeking.

Newton’s laws of motion are three physical laws which provide relationships between the forces acting on a body and the motion of the body. The 3 laws are:

An object at rest will remain at rest unless acted on by an unbalanced force. An object in motion continues in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

If we want to look at our movement in relation to Newton’s laws we must understand that the unbalanced force is change. If we are unwilling to change then we will either remain at rest or continue to move at the same speed we have been moving at. By accepting change we need to know that the pace at which we are familiar with, and sometimes the direction we are moving in, will change and we need to act accordingly. In leadership our responsibility is to make sure that the direction we have people moving in is geared towards success at a speed they can handle. As someone who is being led we need to trust that the direction and speed with which we are moving is the right direction to go so that we can perform. What both leaders and those being led need to make sure of is that the unbalanced force is a wind at our backs, where we can continue to move forward, and not a block in the road where our momentum suddenly stops yet we keep moving in the same direction.

Acceleration is produced when a force acts on a mass. The greater the mass (of the object being accelerated) the greater the amount of force needed (to accelerate the object).

The greater the change we are trying to make, the more force we will need to use in order to crate the change. The common mistake made with Newton’s second law and change is that we as leaders produce too much force on someone who emotionally and physically cannot handle the acceleration. By pushing someone continuously with a force greater than they can handle overwhelms them and decreases their productivity. Because of this it is essential to know how great each individuals “mass” is; otherwise we enact ineptness not empowerment, therefore stunting the change we seek. As a person being led it is our responsibility to inform our leaders when we are being pushed too hard. With this we must also recognize when the push we are being given is to our advantage and it is our own personal baggage that is not allowing change to take place.

For every action there is an equal and opposite re-action.

Newton’s third law is what makes change in life difficult. In theory it should be easy. Leadership pushes those that are being led towards success and they achieve. Unfortunately in interpersonal relationships this is not always the case because a common reaction from people is to push back when being pushed therefore resisting change. This is why it is so important for leaders to explain what changes are being made and why. Open and honest communication between everyone is what will create an equal and opposite reaction, and it is only when people don’t understand why, or agree to, changes are being made that we resist. This is why it is essential to make sure that we as leaders have the right people in the right situations, for without that we will constantly fight the resistance. If we are being led we need to make sure that we are able to handle the push towards change that is being asked of us and that we are willing to make the necessary changes. Understanding our role and excelling in that role is one way to make sure that we can react to our leaders push, but more importantly, we must understand ourselves and be able to excel within if we are ever to create successful change.

Looking to change and enacting change are two completely different animals and without the understanding of how change works we are doomed to remain stagnant and look to next year as the time to make the changes we want to make in our lives. Change requires movement and we have two options within the relationship; 1) to resist change and movement, or 2) to embrace change and movement. Whichever option you choose you need to understand that whether you are the one leading or the one being led, the laws of motion will never change and will always exist.

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