Climb and descend

Perpetual motion is a physical impossibility. Everything always needs a nudge just to maintain its momentum, or a push to increase its velocity, and building a business is no different. For example, when I look at people who I consider “succcessful” an acute jealousy comes to the surface. “They’ve done the work. They’re set. They can relax now.” I mistakenly believe that they’ve set up systems of perpetual motion, that now they have wealth and relationships and assets working in their favour they can chill. Of course, that’s wrong. Even the richest people in the world have to manage their wealth—or pay someone to. 

So if systems of perpetual motion are impossible and unreal, what is life really like? How do we build a business and prolong its existence? What is the journey that must be undertaken? Simply put, it’s a series of mountains. An endless repetition of climb-and-descend.

I’m on a bicycle in the south of France. Ahead is a twenty kilometre climb up the side of a mountain. That climb is going to take a while and it’s going to suck. My legs are going to ache and burn, as are my lungs. In my mind, I’ll probably be cursing and telling myself to quit, questioning why I’m even doing this. But once it’s over, I get to descend. I get to glide down the other side of the mountain, taking in the vistas, letting my mind and body relax and recover.

This is akin to the process of building a business. Work like a dog; coast off the interest of your effort; repeat ad infinitum. That, I believe, is the closest anyone gets to constructing a system of perpetual motion. And the only reason we even think that these systems exist in the first place is because we don’t see people climb. We only see them coast.