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Stable Centers

“Continue to progress, do not stagnate. Consider a spinning top. It moves around a stable center. It spins and spins until it finally falls over, exhausted” — Awa Kenzo, Zen Bow, Zen Arrow

In this blog I refer a lot to Stephen Covey’s concept of pushing the flywheel, and having momentum in our lives through rigid positive habits. The thing about momentum we sometimes forget is that it’s not about the spinning, though surely action is essential, but about the stable center. We may spin like a whirling dervish, but without a stable center we quickly spiral out of control. Like centrifugal force, positive momentum abhors instability.

We see this in people, companies and political parties that have lost the thing that made them stable. Sports teams may peak at the level of their superstars, but unravel over the course of a season without strong leadership from the role players that are the true foundation of a team. We call them the glue that holds a team together, or lifts it up when things go poorly. It’s those people in an organization who exemplify how things ought to be done and lead by example.

That stable center in an individual is our morality and sense of purpose. It’s our why, to borrow from Simon Sinek. When we have this in our lives, we do the work that must be done, we don’t skip over the little things that mean a lot, we are proactive in our days, and we have agency over our lives. Why do we get up every day to start anew? It’s often the people in our lives we hold most dear, isn’t it? Family and friends offer community and a sense of place. Teams, congregations and great company cultures do this as well. We need something bigger than ourselves to make our lives larger and more meaningful. When we have it we feel complete, when we don’t we crave it and desperately seek it out.

Stable centers are usually obvious to us when we have them in our lives. We know what centers us, because our life revolves around these why’s. We are capable of spinning ourselves into greater and greater orbits when our footing is solid. Finding stable centers thus becomes as essential to our growth as establishing good habits and surrounding ourselves with the right people. In fact, when we do these things, we find that we ourselves become a stable center for others. And isn’t that a magical feeling?

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