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Revisiting the Flywheel – How a Flywheel concept can keep you on the long term road to greatness

Four hundred and forty two days ago I published what has been my most read article so far, From Intentional Business to Intentional Living – Adapting the Flywheel concept to drive your personal development journey

In the post I discussed how I could use the powerful Flywheel and Hedgehog concepts to achieve greatness in my own personal journey to better health and fitness.

The Flywheel concept requires a long term approach. It is not a fly by night, get results tomorrow concept. In fact, the secret to success is a long term, diligent commitment to the Hedgehog concept with minimum deviation over a long period of time.

Today, I am in a place where I can attest that the Flywheel effect is as real in a health journey as it is in business. The reality is, at the beginning, the results are barely present, so small that you don’t even realise that change is happening. The amazing thing is that in the beginning, the changes are not to your body, which is the ultimate goal but to your mind.

Five months after I wrote the original Flywheel article, I was not in a great place. I wrote about it in Personal Flywheel Series – Two actions for moving forwards when you’ve been crushed by your own Flywheel. After this enhancement to my original thought process I started the practice of recording my improvement journey through regular journal entries. I am currently, in May 2020, on Day 287 of that process. My journal entries are kind of like a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) process you would find in business. I check my progress, assess my state of mind and come up with countermeasures for issues and enhancements for performance.

Since I started the journal processes I have still had ups and downs in my physical process. Things happen, focus slips and progress stalls or slips backwards.

The advantage of the Flywheel concept is that as long as you do not lose sight of the big picture, focus is regained and process continues. The graph below shows a typical Flywheel journey, progress is slow and appears almost flat for the longest time before exponential improvement begins to be seen. Companies experience ups and downs in the same way as we do in day to day life. Recessions, regulation changes and market fluctuations are similar to holidays, illness and other events of life. Ultimately, a good Flywheel approach will weather these fluctuations, emerging on the other side, still moving forwards.

Shown on the graph is my perception of where I sit on my own journey to date. I am reaching the end of the long tail and moving towards a place where greater improvement is soon to be seen.

The key thing here is that to me, on the journey, my current progress still feels like an independent event rather than an additional step in what has been a long journey. This is why we fail so often on these journeys I believe. We treat each push up the hill as a single struggle, requiring focus in the short term. We fail to realise that each step is a subsequent one in a journey that has been going on for the longest time.

In my case, I’ve been fluffing around on the tail of the Flywheel journey for 20 years. Like the not so great companies in Good to Great, I have entered the Doom Loop multiple times without realizing. Even my successes have been effectively independent of a long term plan or focus.

Like many companies’ goals of financial glory my goal was ‘get fit, be thin’ without the substance in the background of a strong and focused Hedgehog concept backed up by a solid strategy. The Year of Transformation strategy that I have been writing about this year is my focused plan for achieving my Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs) in line with the Hedgehog concept. It keeps me moving from step to step in a structured way, in short increments where success of come kind comes with completing each step.

Since focusing on the Flywheel concept I can see that progress has been made over time. It has not always been physically obvious but quite clearly I am beginning to see improvements in:

  • mindset
  • physical strength
  • attitude to food
  • a reduction in pain

These things are all indicators that the Flywheel journey is having an effect. Momentum is beginning to build and exponential success is imminent, which in Flywheel terms could mean that I could achieve the peak of my goals in around 5 years from now.

Frankly, I’m looking forward to the journey.


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