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January 10th, 2019
For a moment picture a figure skater spinning. At first the posture of the figure skater is large and open as in a Biellmann spin or the Camel Spin which has as much weight distributed outwards from the center of the spin.
But we all know what the figure skater does next. With a stable rotation established, the skater begins to bring their weight towards the center. This concentrates the spin and speeds it up. Eventually the skater will compress into a near fetal position with all of their body weight compressed into as small a space as possible centered on the axis of their spin. This creates an impressive display of rotational speed.
This process of going from a large slow posture down into a small tight spin is a demonstration of a whirlpool, an image often mentioned on Tinkered Thinking to help represent positive and negative compounding cycles, often good habits and bad habits.
What we can learn from the image of the skater is how important the slower start of the spin is for the rest of the process. This slower spin with a larger posture is used to stabilize the spin, to ensure that as it’s concentrated, the refocused power won’t work against the skater and abruptly throw them off balance and fall.
This slower larger spin can work as an analogy for the amount of concentration we need to devote when establishing a new good habit. In the beginning it’s very useful to gamify the process by using a counter to keep track of days and to put much conscious effort into the necessary steps and actions to make sure our target behavior occurs. But over time, as this behavior reshapes some of the structure and firing pattern of our brain, the daily initiation of this behavior becomes automatic. In this case the stability of the spin has been well established, and at this point the accrued benefits of the daily habit begin to compound to a noticeable degree. This is a good habit - like our spinning skater brining in their weight – well focused.
These good habits are like spinning drill bits that allow us to drill into the future with purpose. Though bad habits function just the same. More than anything aside from unpredictably impactful events, our future is largely the result of our most concentrated habits, whether they be good or bad. This should give us reason to pause. And think about what things in our life are already spinning, and what behaviors we’d wish to have as the shapers of our future.