Olympic Hurdles, Barbed Wire, and Newton’s Third Law

When you go out into the world to make things happen, the world seems to challenge you back. The bigger the goal, the harder the obstacles.

This phenomenon can also be observed in classical mechanics. Newton’s Third Law says that each force has an equal and opposite counterforce. That is, you cannot expect to change the status quo without it resisting you back.

Seth Godin calls it The Dip. When you first go down a path, you get lots of reward. After a while, the reward vs. the effort is reduced. Welcome to the dip. Push through it and you will eventually get highly rewarded.

The question is, when is it worth it to push through the resistance and climb out of the dip?If I had the answer for every situation, I would probably be building electric cars and sending people to Mars while running the top ten Fortune 500 companies.

(Un)fortunately, I don’t. But here’s something I’ve learned through much trial and just as many errors:

There are hurdles and there’s barbed wire. One is a challenge, meant to be overcome through passion and perseverance. The other is a roadblock, meant to keep you away at the cost of your life.

In a world of possibilities and limitations, it’s a good idea to be picky about the paths you choose to embark on. Jumping hurdles, you may just end up an olympic champion. Jump through too much barbed wire, and you might just end up dead.