Back when I studied physics Newton’s law regarding inertia was stated as
An object at rest tends to stay at rest, while an object in motion tends to stay in motion
This law was first defined in the 1600’s to describe the motion of relatively large objects in our environment. Think apples and bowling balls. I think it also applies to people.
People in Motion
Benjamin Franklin has been quoted,
If you want something done, ask a busy person.
I think this is because they already have the inertia of being in motion. If you ask someone who “has time” to get the work done, it often seems like the work never actually crosses the finish line. That is because they (and you, as their leader) have to overcome so much inertia to get moving in the first place.
I took some vacation around Christmas this year, and I really enjoyed the break and the slower pace of life. However, I noticed getting back to work and getting in the groove was tough. This is evidenced on this blog by the 33 day span between blog posts. So much for the “weekly” concept! I have been back at work three weeks now, and I am just now getting close to full speed and productivity.
I highly recommend staying in motion if you want to be productive. I am a fan of rest, and know it comes at a cost beyond the rest period itself.
Motion vs. Progress
I remember a friend of mine who hated to wait in traffic. Sure, I get it…traffic is slowing us down, and it is boring, and it is reducing our progress toward our goal. His response to any traffic (a red light, traffic jam, etc.) was to turn on some side street so we could keep moving. I found these detours often cost us more time than just waiting out the original delay. Sure, we were in motion…but was it really progress?
In fact, Newton’s law refers specifically to the term velocity, rather than speed.
Velocity is the combination of speed and direction. If we sacrifice direction in the name of speed, we have rarely gained true progress toward the goal.
There is a tension there: Do I stay in motion to maintain inertia, or do I accept slowing down to maintain direction.
There is no universal answer to that…a “tension to manage” as Andy Stanley would say.
Your Next Move
Two things to move forward here. First, take a close look at your own inertia. Are you moving at the speed and direction you want to? If not, fix it. Maybe you are moving too fast and need to slow down to avoid burn out. Maybe too slow and need to kick it up a notch. Maybe the direction is off or swerving…focus on the goal.
Second, ask people you lead about their inertia. Rather than “How are you feeling?” make the inquiry about their speed and direction – ask about their inertia.