Levers & Pulleys

Leverage. It’s the oldest trick in the book. One of the oldest tools used to accomplish more. My son just studied ‘simple machines’ and guess what tool #1 was? You guessed it. The lever. A lever is a tool that’s all. But it is powerful. With a lever I can lift or move something 10 times what I could lift myself. Here’s Wikipedia:

In physics, a lever (from French lever, “to raise”, c.f. a levant) is a rigid object that is used with an appropriate fulcrum or pivot point to multiply the mechanical force that can be applied to another object. This leverage is also termed mechanical advantage, and is one example of the principle of moments. A lever is one of the six simple machines.

We talk a lot about ‘leverage’ in leadership and I don’t know how that makes me feel, honestly. I mean if you read that description, there’s tons of leadership implications… but I just doesn’t feel right.

There’s another simple machine; it’s called a pulley. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about Pulleys:

A pulley (also called a block) is a mechanism composed of a wheel (called a sheave) with a groove between two flanges around the wheel’s circumference. A rope, cable or belt usually runs inside the groove. Pulleys are used to change the direction of an applied force, transmit rotational motion, or realize a mechanical advantage in either a linear or rotational system of motion.

I just want to make some statements about these two Simple Machines.

  • Leverage implies “pushing”
  • Pulleys imply “pulling”
  • Leverage implies me “leveraging” you to accomplish what I want
  • Pulleys imply working together to lift something up
  • A lever works best by itself
  • Pulley’s work best in conjunction with each other – the more pulley’s we use the easier the job becomes
  • Levers use lot’s of friction
  • Pulleys are smooth
  • If a lever doesn’t work, something breaks
  • Pulleys can get tangled, jammed & become messy, if not cared for
  • When a lever works, the person doing the leverage gets the credit
  • When a pulley works, the team gets the credit
  • With a lever, it’s the size that matters
  • With a pulley, it’s the strategy of working together that matters

I think I’m more of a pulley guy, or at least I think I want to be more of a pulley guy. And maybe that has it’s own set of problems – I think that’s ok. What about you?

2 thoughts on “Levers & Pulleys

  1. Melissa

    I did like this and since you seem like you are inviting comments… Having been under those who act more like levers I would much rather learn to be a pully, although it can be much trickier Levers can be found almost anywhere (PVC pipe, a 2×4, etc) while pully’s have to be intentionally sought out or created. That being said, in leadership it is much easier to find and be a lever, however being a part of a pully system is amazing…

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