Have you ever been on a seesaw? Of course you have, and it was great fun, wasn’t it? That is, unless of course you were on it with someone who was much lighter or much heavier than you. If they were lighter, then you hit the ground with a thud, and had to do all the work to try and start seesawing. If they were heavier, then you were stranded in the air with legs dangling out of control. The only way you can enjoy seesawing with someone of a vastly different weight is to move the fulcrum.
What is a fulcrum? You may be asking. The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary definition is, the support about which a lever turns. In the case of a seesaw, the fulcrum is the support in the middle of the board which allows it to move up and down based on the forces applied at either end. I hope I am not confusing you, as I am starting to confuse myself! You can visualise the seesaw, right? As the support is exactly in the middle, a seesaw relies on people weighing about the same at either end to provide the most enjoyment. When the weights are different, the only way a seesaw could provide an equal experience for both riders is if the middle support, or fulcrum, is moved towards the heavier person. I am not going to get into the science of how this works, you need to just trust me on this one.
In other words, in this situation, the only way we can have an equal and enjoyable experience is to simply move the fulcrum. You may be wondering why I am talking about fulcrums and seesaws. I was reading about this analogy in the book The Happiness Advantage, by Shawn Achor, a book I have spoken about before. In it, he discusses this concept in terms of mindset and perspective. He talks about a study done with hotel maids at seven different hotels whose job it is to clean rooms in hotels, after guests have departed. At an initial glance, this may not seem to be a very fun, fulfilling, or joyful experience, with the exception of the few dollars they are paid per hour. Unless, of course, they moved the fulcrum.
Half of the maids were told how much exercise they were getting every day through their work, how many calories their daily activities burned, how similar vacuuming is to a cardio workout, and so on. The other half were given no such good news. At the end of the experiment, several weeks later, it was found that those primed to think of their work as healthy exercise had actually lost weight and lowered their cholesterol. They had done nothing different to the control group. The only difference was how their brains conceived of the work they were doing. This is what can happen when you move the mindset fulcrum.
I have had a very exciting week, and it all manifested very quickly. Less than three weeks before this wonderful event, I had, out of the blue, been handed a notice to vacate my rental property in 90 days with no reason or explanation. I have only been here 9 months, so I was shocked, but also excited. I moved my fulcrum very quickly from trying to find another rental property to buying a home. My audacious goal was to find, buy, settle, and move within the 90-days. A seemingly challenging task, depending on where the fulcrum is placed. As a result of the movement of my fulcrum to believing and expecting it would happen, I found and bought an amazing place within 3 weeks and will settle and move with 30 days to spare.
The question you may be asking is, how can you use this analogy in your own life? It is simple and powerful. Let’s say you have to attend a meeting you know will be a boring waste of your time. Could you move the fulcrum and go into that meeting with the intention of learning at least one thing about the topic, the presentation, or the way to run a meeting? You may have to deal with a person you don’t like or get on with very well. Could you move the fulcrum and focus on one trait about that person you do like, or respect? If you dislike exercise and it is a barrier to you doing it regularly, could you move the fulcrum and focus on how you will feel when it’s done, and the long-term benefits? When confronted with your next conflict, instead of thinking about how it affects you, could you move the fulcrum and think about how it must feel for the other person?
You see, your mindset is a fulcrum, and it is very simple to move when you choose to. In my podcast this week called Radical generosity, with Bob DePasquale, I was inspired by a man who has moved his fulcrum many times as he has dealt with some massive challenges. He now devotes his time to radical generosity and helping others do the same. My message this week, as always, is very simple. When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change. Move the fulcrum and see what amazing things will happen for you this week.