Wayne Newton’s 4th law of relative immobility

Last night I was speaking with a woman at a gathering of graduates from my high school.  She got into the subject of reading glasses and then commented that she first learned she needed regular glasses since the age of four.

As she was not wearing glasses, I asked her if she’d had Lasik.  No, she said, “I always hated how I looked in them, so I quit wearing them in high school.”

“Don’t you miss being able to see things?” I asked.

“Not really.  This is how I’ve seen the world for the past thirty years.  I’ve grown comfortable with how I see the world.”

I think many business leaders have the same perspective.  They get comfortable with how they see their world—comfortable with the issues and how to address them.  Given the choice, people will stay in their comfort zone.

Do you remember your physics?  Relative motion is the branch of physics that studies the motion of the body relative to the motion of another moving body (Newton).  For example, if you are in a train and another traveling at the same speed pulls alongside you, it appears to both set of passengers that neither train is moving.  If your train decelerates it will appear to you the other train has accelerated.

Now, take the perspective of someone standing on the platform viewing the two trains.  To that person, there is no illusion.  The bystander can see exactly what is happening; who is moving forward and who isn’t.

Some business leaders get caught up in what I call Wayne Newton’s 4th law of relative immobility.  When they look out their windows at the executive in the hospital across the street, it appears they are both moving at the same speed and at the same direction.  That is how they have seen the world each day for the last several years.  They look at each other, wave, and then go about their business, knowing their competitor hasn’t passed them or changed course.

But you and I know why it looks that way to them.  The reason they have not been passed is because neither hospital is moving forward.  The reason they do not perceive a change of direction is that they are both moving in the same direction.  In actuality, there is no motion.  Only an outsider can see neither hospital is moving.

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