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  • Writer's pictureChuck Cusumano

Be a Builder

By Chuck Cusumano and Jillian Broaddus

Build up or tear down – you get to chose!


Gravity, inertia, and momentum are concepts in physics that help us to understand the motion of objects and allow us to understand the world around us. These terms also allow us to explain how unseen forces perpetuate the status quo, unless the status quo is acted upon by an external force.

Gravity fights building things up, but aids in tearing things down.

It is easier to tear something down than it is to build something up due to the force of gravity. How quickly can you tear down a skyscraper versus how long it took to construct it? Have you ever spent the better part of a day building an elaborate sandcastle at the beach, and then with one rogue wave or just the changing of the tide, the sandcastle disappears! Years of trust and loyalty can be destroyed in a single moment of dishonesty or deceit. Our point is: tearing down is easier than building up.

Why are so many cities built on top of one another rather than building a new city in a new place? Because the resources are already there, the advantages of the location are still a factor, and the cultural and economic patterns still exist. So, in the history of the world, we tend to build new cities on top of existing ones, rather than going out and starting anew.

The same can be true with people and processes within our own lives and organizations. We look for the problems within the system and are quick to highlight what needs to be corrected. However, the harder thing may be to see what is working within the system and what adjustments need to be made to realign the system to work effectively again. Try building onto what is (or was) working before you take the easy way out and let gravity do its thing. Once that momentum takes hold, it is exponentially harder to stop the inertia of negativity and only seeing what is NOT working! Before that starts to happen, here are a few things you can do to keep momentum and inertia working in your favor:

  • Identify what the team (or person, organization, or friendship) is currently doing well. Highlight and leverage those traits or behaviors.

  • Build on the strengths and existing processes that are working.

  • Look for the reasons you invested into the friendship or company in the first place. Why did you decide to hire this individual? What strengths did they posses that impressed you? The same questions can be asked for a relationship or a process or a company. Build up – fight gravity!

YES, people are crying out for affirmation, celebration, and want to be told what they did correct. We created this culture we now exist in. Many times the solution is as simple as a new step in the procedure; not a whole new system! We may not need to replace an underperforming team member – just identify what they are doing well and how they can leverage those strengths to improve their results. If you want to be a builder of people and organizations, you MUST be stronger than the gravitational pull of the negativity around you.  

Inertia provides a resistance to changes in motion. Inertia is a tendency to continue without change, unless an external force acts upon it.

Organizational or personal change is hard. Change requires MORE energy than remaining on the current path or in a current situation. At what point will someone be willing to risk the additional effort to change the trajectory of the situation? There must be an additional force (such as pain or pleasure) to force the trajectory off of the status quo or neutral. If you want change in your relationships, your organization, yourself, or the processes you follow, you MUST be willing to add the additional pain or pleasure to course-correct.

It has been quoted that the enemy of great is good, but also consider that doing nothing is the inertia that leads to mediocrity. Who really wants an average friendship, a mediocre partnership, or an okay relationship? Do you strive to lead a half-decent team, an on-par organization, and do mediocre work? It will take energy and investments in time and resources to fight the inertia but if you desire more, then consider average as failure, good as bad, and great as success!

Positive Momentum should be the goal!

Positive momentum is always the desired state of motion. Once you have positive momentum in anything you are striving for, do everything possible to feed the momentum. It can defeat gravity and inertia trying to pull it back as long as you sustain it. In sports they call it "The Big Mo." It is what allows a team to have increased performance. Mass multiplied by Velocity = Momentum. The more positive things you can find times the frequency you mention them will equal how much positive momentum you can create. The same will be true (in the wrong direction) if you apply it to negativity. You may have been trained to see problems, but you get to chose if you want to remain that way! Look for the positive reasons.

Building is creating. Building is investing. Building is adding. Building is difficult because it fights gravity. Building is hard because it must overcome Newton’s First Law of Motion.

Demolition is deconstruction. Demolition is deletion. Demolition is subtraction. Demolition is simple because it uses gravity. Demolition tears things down.

The secret is to use the laws of physics to create the desired outcome that you want!

If you want formulas or just some simple equations to help you achieve success, reach out to us at

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