Archimedes, the greatest scientist and mathematician of ancient Greece, famously posited, “Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.” Our brains, too, operate according to the Archimedean formula. Take, for example, a seesaw. On a seesaw, the fulcrum is set at the exact center between the two seats. If two boys, each weighing 70 kgs, sit at the same distance from the fulcrum on opposing seesaw seats, they will balance each other. Now, imagine two boys, one weighing 60 kgs and the other 100 kgs, in the same situation. The smaller boy is going to hang in the air until the larger one either pushes off the ground with his feet or (as boys sometimes do) jumps off and lets his smaller companion crash earthward. But what if we move the fulcrum? The closer we move the center point, the fulcrum, toward the heavier boy, the easier he is to lift. If we keep moving the fulcrum in that direction, eventually the lighter boy will effectively weigh more than his big buddy. Move the fulcrum close enough to the heavier boy, and the lighter boy can climb off his seat and use the seesaw lever to move his heavier friend up. In other words, by shifting this point around which energy is applied, we can effectively turn the seesaw from a balancing scale into a powerful lever. That was exactly Archimedes’ point. If we have a long enough lever and a good place to stand—a fulcrum point—we can move the entire world. What I realized is that our brains work in precisely the same way. Our power to maximize our potential is based on two important things: (1) the length of our lever—how much potential power and possibility we believe we have, and (2) the position of our fulcrum—the mindset with which we generate the power to change. What this means in practical terms is that whether you are a student aiming for better grades, a junior executive striving for higher pay, or a teacher hoping to better inspire his/her students, you don’t need to try so hard to generate power and produce results. Our potential is not fixed. The more we move our fulcrum (or mindset), the more our lever lengthens and more power we generate. Move the fulcrum so that all the advantage goes to a negative mindset, and we never rise off the ground. Move the fulcrum to a positive mindset, and the lever’s power is magnified—ready to move everything up. Simply put, by changing the fulcrum of our mindset and lengthening our lever of possibility, we change what is possible. It’s not the weight of the world that determines what we can accomplish. It is our fulcrum and lever.
I would recommend to read the book The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor.