Raad Ahmed

The Flywheel: An Operating System For My Life

September 8, 2021

What is it?

The Flywheel effect is a concept created by the prolific polymath Jim Collins from his book Good to Great.

His thinking is there is never one single defining action or killer feature that makes a great lasting company.

Instead, their process mimics that of a giant flywheel that is relentlessly turned over and over again, until it finally builds enough momentum to hit a breakthrough.

And when the breakthrough happens, you’re suddenly no longer pushing as hard as the first time you turned the flywheel.

Your compounding investment of effort over time begins to spin 10x faster then 100x, and then 1,000x until it becomes an unstoppable force.

Essentially, big things happen because you do a bunch of small things really well, and that compounded over time creates massive success.

I leveraged this framework when starting LawTrades and it goes something like this:

Lower rates. Faster matches—> Increases customer traffic —> Attracts more lawyers —> Expands our services—> Increases order volume. Lowers cost structure —> Profit reinvests into more innovation.

I became curious if this idea could be applied to people instead of companies–specifically my life. It wasn’t until I listened to a Tim Ferris interview with Jim Collins when it clicked.

My personal flywheel

So taking this logical construct of if you do A, you can’t help but do B. And if you do B, you can’t help but do C. And if you do C… and so on and so forth–I tried to devise an operating system for my life.

My beginning started this question:

What do I want to create? Mainly because I am happiest when I am creating.

If I really want to create something, I can’t help but learn more about how others did it.

While learning about it (and if I don’t get disinterested), I can’t help but eventually be inspired.

If I have inspiration, I can’t help but put in the work and share it with people.

If I share it–especially on the internet–I can’t help but have some impact on the world if enough people find it useful.

If people find it valuable, I can’t help but eventually make money from it.

If I have more money, then…

Yes, I can starting creating again.

Creating then leads to the learning, which leads to the inspiration and ideas, which leads to the building, which leads to impacting the world, which generates money, which then allows me to bankroll the next creation.

It becomes perpetual.

How to create your own flywheel

I think if you do this exercise, you’ll start to prune out the little tasks in your life that’s doesn’t contribute to making you happier.

1. Ask yourself where’s your personal flywheel going to start? The start of your flywheel a key question that you want to perpetually feed.

2. Devise the order of the sequences in your flywheel. If A happens then B must happen. If B happens then C must etc…

3. Make sure that the last step links back to the start.

4. Keep refining this list until you capture the drivers of your motivation, and how they all link together.

5. Once you crystallize your specifics of your flywheel, start spinning it until you build enough momentum to become unstoppable.

I hope this helps you too!