Your Momentum: Steady at the Wheel; Carry On

A smart truck driver can tell you that she spends her whole day working the laws of physics. It’s not easy to get forty tons clipping along at sixty-five mph, and keeping it there is work. Just climbing an overpass will cost her a good five mph, and descending the other side of it can give it right back in a hurry. An experienced driver knows when to let it coast and when to brake because she knows that momentum is hard to get back once it has been lost. Drag of every kind is therefore always kept to a minimum.

And a truck is a handful: the average professional driver makes almost 200 decisions per mile. There are hundreds of thousands of inputs and course corrections required to be able to get a truckload of freight from its source to its destination. Since momentum is so crucial, a trucker is taught to take the path of least resistance, whether that has to do with selecting a route or choosing a parking spot.

Principle Matters

This principle of constant course correction and momentum maximization is applicable for intercontinental flight, too. If a pilot is setting a course from San Fransisco to Beijing, the utmost precision is required to not only plot his course but also maintain it in flight. His position is constantly changing, and conditions at altitude vary constantly. He may be fighting a headwind, he may be blown off course, he may have to divert around or above storms and turbulence. If he allows a single degree of variation, he may find himself on reserve fuel, needing to land, looking for a runway that simply isn’t there.

Protect Your Momentum

So, stay sharp out there in the big, bad world. Every day, you encounter people and situations that threaten to sap your momentum or push you off your heading, if you let them. But you’ve got to stay focused. You have goals; write them down and review them often. You have obligations; go above and beyond to meet them, and for the right reasons. You have people depending on you, but leadership isn’t about power and privilege. It’s about service and sacrifice. The longer you’re in this thing called life, the more you see that it’s not your problem what others think about you. This is especially true in regard to those who only ever have criticism to dish, and not the constructive kind.

Your Mission

You must be on a mission in this industry or you simply won’t make it. There are times when you have to dig in and confront obstacles, whether they’re as small as an overpass or as large as a mountain pass. And sometimes you have to find a better way, even if that means taking the long way around… or cutting a constant critic loose to go be someone else’s drag (preferably their own, until they learn a thing or two).

Slow and steady wins the race. To finish first, first you have to finish. Steady at the wheel, then, and carry on.