“Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.”
The first time I heard that quote, it was in an introduction to physics in High school at “Lycée Lamine Gueye”, Dakar, Senegal.
I wondered who was that Archimedes guy, because clearly he is bold!
The secret to this bold statement: the COG or Center Of Gravity.
No, there will be no complicated maths here. Just bare with me!
“In physics, the center of mass of a distribution of mass in space (sometimes referred to as the balance point) is the unique point where the weighted relative position of the distributed mass sums to zero. ”
Let’s assume, in the universe of this article, that the center of mass is the same as the COG. It is a great approximation in our reality at ground level on Earth.
Let’s take a wimple example. It’s Sunday, before 2019 (You will understand why soon.) You want to sleep over and Bryan, your young son is turning you crazy. As a last resort, you decide to get him some fresh air.
Now you are heading to the playground, with no mask. Because 2018, a Covid-19 free world. You arrive at the playground and nobody is there. You decide to put Bryan on one side of the children’ swing and you sit on the opposite side. Yet you forget that you weigh 10 times more than your son Bryan. Not because of confinement. Remember 2018.
And by the time your ass hit the saddle of the swing, Bryan is on a launchpad for the moon. And this is where you tell him: Son, Sky is not the limit, I hope!
This is the magic behind the COG. You are at the same distance as Bryan. Your weight is applied at each of your COG. Let assume that your bellybutton is your respective COG. But because you weigh 10 times than him, your sitting momentum is 10 times more powerful and now you can hear him yell from the moon: Dad, that’s one step for a small man, one giant shitstorm for you.
In your way home alone, you are trying to find infinite ways to explain to your partner why your only son is now kissing the dust in the moon.
This is the power of the COG, the “balance point” that multiplies your impact in life when properly mastered. This is some kind of Jujutsu here.
I have been building my COG around the 3 forces below:
- Open Mindedness
And when you combine them, you always end up at the COG of my life.
“Between birth and death, nobody can close a book.”
As far as I remember, curiosity has been a driving force in my life. It’s the curiosity of trying to understand the magic of flying that took me from Dakar, Senegal to Toulouse, France to work for Airbus today.
At Airbus, I worked a decade as a stress engineer. Then my curiosity led me to work at the Customer Support department for Cabin because I was curious to know about the in-service experience from our products at Airbus. And I knew nothing about the Cabin systems. I was excited to learn.
By being the eternal learner, there are no permanent mistakes. There is just experience stacking.
By seeing myself as a student of life, I see all my interactions as an opportunity to learn and improve myself. The direct consequence of that is that I am not afraid to ask “dumb” questions.
I am moving from the “Know it all” fixed mindset to the “Learn it All” growth mindset.
It makes me automatically humble and more connected to my own limitations, my own mortality. No matter how high I am flying, this force will always pull me down to Earth.
2. Open Mindedness
“The mind is like a parachute. It works better when it is open ”
Building an open mind is a daily ritual that I have incorporated in my life. I know that there is no such thing as a single and unique reality. There is the Matrix and like Morpheus, we see the world through our glasses and split it between the blue pill or the red pill. I know that some of my friends are color blind. So red or pill is irrelevant to them. They only see 50 Shades of Grey.
For me, having an open mind is acknowledging that there are realities within realities in this world. We all are living in our own Inception world. Often there is a misunderstanding or miscommunication because of 2 reasons.
The 1st one is that our Inception world is unique to us. Yet we love to project it to other people’s lives and we try to force them to acknowledge that our movie is the reality.
The 2nd issue is that even if we are in the same Inception universe, we might not be at the same level in this universe. I might be on Inception level 2 and the other people in level 3. Yet I am frustrated that the other person is too slow. Yet the time is slower the deeper the level.
Opening the mind of my parachute gives me a stable force to balance my ride in this world.
“Get yourself grounded and you can navigate even the stormiest roads in peace.”
For me, the best definition of being grounded is from my physics courses about electricity and electric circuits and the role that grounding plays as a guardian angel for the system:
“In electrical engineering, ground or earth is the reference point in an electrical circuit from which voltages are measured, a common return path for electric current, or a direct physical connection to the earth.[…]This ensures that exposed parts can never have a dangerous voltage with respect to ground for more than the amount of time required for the fuse or circuit breaker to open the circuit; otherwise a grounded person who touched the parts could receive an electric shock.”
One pro tip about the COG in Physics is that the closer the COG of an object is to the ground, the more stable the object is to external perturbations or forces. The best example I can give is the Pyramids in Egypt. Imagine that I ask you to move them, it can be quite a challenge. Now Imagine a long tube running from the ground to the sky. All it will need is, as said by the Joker in the Dark Knight movie, “a little push”.
Being grounded for me translated into knowing where I come from. It is to strive to live a simple life, no matter how money or power I virtually have. If there is one thing that this COvid-19 pandemic has taught me is going back to basics. Like literally sitting down on the ground, barefoot and trying to feel the energy of Mother Earth tickling my toes.
Being ground is my weapon of mass equilibrium.
By being curious, having an open mind, by being grounded, I feel my center of gravity with a stable and balanced position in this ever changing environment we live in.
Building a COG is not an object so heavy that even Archimedes cannot move you no matter how long his leverage is over you. It is the opposite. It is all about being in a constant movement, surrounded by the balanced, stable and protecting forces of curiosity, open mindness and grounding.
How do you make sure to lower your COG to the right level?
How do you filter out the fluctuations in the forces within your universe?
How strong is your grounding?
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You can read my previous article on This is the best TED you will ever meet in your life.