Levers of change

​It was Archimedes who said, “give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.” This might be apocryphal, I don’t know. But it’s had me thinking about a phrase: “levers of change.”

A lever is defined as something that “amplifies an input force to provide a greater output force.” The question I’ve been asking myself is this: What compels a person to change more frequently and at a faster rate? What amplifies and agitates someone’s desire to change? Below are a few ideas. 

  • The experience of pain and suffering.
  • Impending danger and the threat of pain and suffering in the future.
  • Awareness and understanding.
  • Vicarious learning, either from someone close to you (a family member), or from someone distant (a historical figure). 
  • An unexpected gain in performance or effectiveness.
  • Curiosity, fascination, or taken to an extreme, obsession.
  • Ambition and the striving for more or better.
  • Rigorous self-analysis and the understanding of strengths and weaknesses.
  • Influence from an authority figure, a role model, an anti-model, a group, or a community.
  • An overwhelming sense of boredom.
  • Desire and greed.

​I don’t think any one of these is “better” or “more effective” than any other. It depends on the person involved, where they are in their life, and to a certain extent, their past.

For some people, fear, pain and the threat of danger are the only levers that create change. For others, curiosity, understanding and vicarious learning are more potent. 

While it may be hard to determine which levers work for others, it’s both easier and more profitable to figure out which levers work for you. If you figure out what compels you to change for the better, you can use that knowledge to create near perpetual improvement.