Merry-Go-Round Physics

by Ray Reuter on May 5, 2016

Consider this analogy regarding the physics of a merry-go-round.

In the middle of the merry-go-round is a solid, immovable pole or post — often invisible. When I stand really close to the center, movement is fairly subtle and I am able to maintain my balance without too much effort or anxiety. When I move out a ways from the center, things start to speed up and maintaining my balance requires me to reach out and hang on to something. If I move all the way to the end, things are really spinning and I must hold on tight to something to prevent being flung off the equipment and thrown to the ground. I may even cry out for help and ask someone closer to the center to reach out and pull me in.

These merry-go-round physics show up in a lot of our life situations. For me, the center post is God and my faith. It is solid. It does not move. It is always there for me to move toward, even when it is not visible.

When I am close to the center (i.e., God) things are more in control. I am able to maintain a reasonable amount of balance. As I move further away from the center, things speed up. Those “things” include worry, anxiety, fear, distrust, doubt. I start to feel out-of-balance, out of rhythm, out of sync … and I often grab on to whatever is close for safety and security. If I continue to move further away from the center all the way to the end, life really starts to spin and I am in survival mode holding on and crying out for help. It is crazy on the edge, and it is wise to do my best to return to center where things are more calm.

I share these thoughts from an individual perspective, but they apply to couples or groups or teams as well. Consider for instance …

… a family. Close to the center would be the husband and wife. As they stick close together, they can remain strong. Outside of them are the children and more craziness shows up. Even further out are all the activities and obligations and responsibilities. The result is chaotic. What keeps a family strong is the center post — God and the relationship between the husband and wife / father and mother.

… an organization. Close to the center are the senior leaders. Ideally they form a strong anchor for the organization. The next group might be the direct reports and departments. Further out are all the employees. And even beyond that might be the customers. From an outside in perspective, the customers reach out and rely upon the employees, who rely upon their managers, who rely upon the senior leaders. Each layer is stronger assuming it radiates from the center.

The takeaway is this … pay attention to merry-go-round physics. To reduce craziness and stress, to regain balance, move to the center. Trust in God, have faith, and hold on to that which does not, nor should not, move.

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