Give me a lever and a place to stand…

I recently read these words of Greek philosopher, Archimedes, “Give me a lever and a place to stand and I will move the world.”

Archimedes was mooting the possibility that if the Earth rested on the short end of lever, close to a fulcrum in space, and if Archimedes was on the other end of this extremely long lever then, theoretically, his weight would be sufficient to move the entire world.


A recent LinkedIn article also gave me pause for thought.

In it the writer criticised those who complained about their life situation or how hard they worked or their lack of time. The writer then went on to compare their own work ethic, or ability to hustle, with that of these ‘complainers’. I think the intended goal of the article was to shake up the complainers to take action but I came away from it quite discouraged.

This ‘Triple C’ lever for changing the world is ineffective.

Complaining about our life situation but doing nothing to change it is energy-sapping, time-consuming and changes nothing – be it a boss, employees, a partner, a friend, the economy or world affairs.

Criticising others who look at life and work differently to the way we do is neither helpful for ourselves, nor is it motivating for those we criticise – often it only leads to the ones being criticised becoming defensive and less likely to hear anything valid the critic may have to say. It is rarely effective in changing behaviours or attitudes.

Comparing leads to one of two outcomes – either we compare ourselves favourably with others or we compare unfavourably. We come away feeling as though we are better than others or discouraged. Neither is a viable option for change. As a good friend reminds me when I am tempted to compare myself with others, “Put the measuring tape away!”

The one lever that I believe is most effective in changing ourselves, others and the world is encouragement. Encouragement sees the person first and then addresses any issues or failings.

If I am performing poorly at work or in a task, an encouraging word along with a constructive critique is a most useful method of bringing about the desired change. Encouragement makes allowances for the unseen factors in a person’s life that may be impacting how they perform – the things I do not know as an onlooker but which may be serious issues in another person’s life.  Encouragement also allows room for personal growth and individual outlooks to be brought to bear on a situation. Encouragement acknowledges that one size does not fit all.

“Give me a lever and a place to stand and I will move the world”, said Archimedes.

In our digital world, the place many of us stand is the online platform. There is permanence to this platform because once our words are ‘out there’ they cannot be retracted – they stand forever, always accessible.

From this place to stand we can move the world but only if we use an effective lever. The lever I choose is encouragement.


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