March 4, 2011

Potential vs Kinetic

In science, 'work' has a whole different meaning. The equation is:
Work = (Force applied) x (Displacement in the direction of the force) 
Looking at the above formula, it appears there has to be movement for work to occur. Bad news for those with desk jobs.

Then there are two different types of energy - Kinetic and Potential. The kinetic energy of an object is the energy which it possesses due to its motion. Relating it back to 'work', it is the amount of energy it takes to move an object from rest to the desired velocity.

Potential energy is essentially stored energy. For example, when you pull back on a bow string, you are storing energy to shoot an arrow forward later (rather than just immediately throwing it).

Where am I going with all this. I don't know, and that is sort of the problem.

We all have these ideas and plans floating around in our head, but in a sense, they are not real until there is some forward motion. In the end, it is not really the thought that counts, but what we do to act on it. In a scientific sense, the energy we expend on the ideas before moving forward should manifest when we are ready, but of course we humans are fallible, leaky systems.

Some of us (me) think a little too long before acting, and energy is wasted in the delay. Others act impulsively, losing no energy I suppose. But while the results may be technically 'work', in a human sense, without thought and direction, it is probably wasted energy.

Back to the things floating around in my head (focus!). While working, running or driving, ideas percolate in the background. Occasionally, I think I've come upon a brilliant insight or some new way of thinking about a problem. Wheels are turning, synapses are firing, and I can't wait to explore it further.

Sometimes though, when I get around to putting pen to paper, it turns out the idea that was flying through my head wasn't really going anywhere. Just going in circles like a car doing donuts in a parking lot - foot down on the accelerator and burning rubber, but getting nowhere. The arrow doesn't fly to the target, but just falls weakly to the ground.

I think that letting ideas percolate for some time before acting on them usually produces better results. But ideas locked away in our heads do little good until they are acted upon. And most aren't fully formed until we share and explain them to others, so we don't know what we have until they're expressed.

I need to stop letting so many thoughts bounce around in my head for so long. After a certain point, they aren't getting any better, and if they are junk, I need to figure that out as well. And if there were fewer competing for attention, they might be better formed, and I would almost certainly get more sleep.

They don't have to be perfect, they don't have to be profound, but they need to be either expressed or forgotten. Move away from just having potential, and into forward motion. And get some actual work done.
You can't build a reputation on what you are going to do.
~ Henry Ford

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