The Law of Equilibrium Part 1

July 5, 2005

By: Matt Michel

(GRAPEVINE, Texas) -- You cannot see gravity, but you know it exists. You know it exists because you can observe the law of gravity in action. Drop something and it falls. If observation’s not enough, you can step off a scaffold and experience gravity for yourself. I think I’ll observe, thank you.

Even though we cannot see, taste, touch, or hear the law of gravity, we know it’s real. It’s a physical law. Just like there are physical laws, there are also natural laws; laws that govern human conduct. We cannot see, taste, touch, or hear these natural laws either. They are nevertheless, very real. And just like gravity, we can observe them and experience them.

One natural law is the law of equilibrium. The law of equilibrium states that things have a way of balancing out over time. Unlike gravity, the law of equilibrium does not necessarily work instantly. Sometimes, it doesn’t appear to work at all. When this happens we scratch our heads and question the fairness of life. Yet, the law is at work, even if do not always observe it.

The law of equilibrium has been around forever...

“A man reaps what he sows.”

Or, in a more modern context…

“What goes around, comes around.”

According to the law of equilibrium, we can expect to get back what we dish out. Help someone with no thought of return and you will inevitably get a return. Maybe it won’t happen right away. Maybe you will never be able to connect X and Y, but things still have a way of evening out.

The movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” is about the law of equilibrium. George Bailey, who spends his whole life helping others, suddenly finds himself in trouble. People come out of the woodwork to help.

The law of equilibrium works in reverse too. Have you ever noticed how those who dish out misery seem to be miserable most of the time?

Of course, you wonder from time to time, when the jerks lead a charmed life. Yet, even in these cases I’ve seen the law of equilibrium play out. It just takes time. The corporate executive who steps all over people on the way up, who ruins the careers and lives of those around him while always managing to land on his feet, who appears to lead a charmed life, suddenly stumbles. He needs help, but doesn’t receive it. He needs a good word, but it’s none is offered.

It doesn’t surprise the executive. It’s consistent with his worldview. It’s sad really. He never realized that life tends to conform to one’s worldview.

This week, I observed the first half of the law of equilibrium in action in bad ways and good. I was reading some of the online public bulletin boards to stay in tune with the things that contractors are talking about, outside of the Service Roundtable. I noticed a thread dealing with trade associations.

While a few people tried to defend their trade association, the overall tone was decidedly negative. In a word, it was narcissistic. These contractors wanted to know what a trade association would do for them before they would ever consider doing anything for it (and by extension, the industry they owe for their livelihood).

They have a “what’s in it for me” attitude. If they do not see a direct personal benefit, they see no reason to participate. They are takers. They take without giving. As people who give nothing, they receive nothing and, I suspect, have next to nothing.

People should join trade associations not for what the association can do for them, but for what they can do for their industry through their association. Few takers join trade associations. Givers join.

Givers are the most active in their trade associations, most active in their communities, and most giving in general. They are usually the most successful. Givers do not suddenly “arrive” and become charitable. They were always that way. They always gave, even when they didn’t have a lot. They give much, receive much, and over time, have plenty.

Next Article: More thoughts on getting involved.

Source: Comanche Marketing. Reprinted by permission.
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Copyright © 2004 Matt Michel

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