Thrust and Drag

This past weekend, I flew out to Ohio to visit my sister. This wasn’t the first time I’ve flown somewhere, but this time I noticed something I’ve never really paid attention to before. I had a window seat, right by the wing of the plane. As the engines revved up and the plane started making its way up the runway and into the sky, I realized just how hard those engines had to work just to lift off. Now, I’m no expert when it comes to aerodynamics, but from the little I do know, the plane’s engines create a force called thrust. This is what causes the plane to propel through the air. However, an opposing force called drag meets the thrust that the engines create. This is the friction that resists the motion of the plane. The engines have to work incredibly hard to create enough thrust because if they don’t, drag will keep the plane grounded. The thrust created by the engines has to be at least equal to or greater than its opposing force drag, for the flight to even take place. In other words, if the plane doesn’t have the ability to push it through the forces opposing it, it will be dragged down and will never be able to take off.

Then I noticed something else. Once the plane had taken off and reached its cruising altitude, the engines didn’t seem to be working so hard. Granted, the engines were still on, but they didn’t sound like they were exerting the same amount of energy that they were when the plane initially started its flight. Well, there’s also this force called lift that comes into play once the plane takes off. This is the force that holds the plane in the air at whatever height it reaches. The thrust created by the planes engine combined with the air moving over the plane’s wings creates this force. In other words, once the plane has overcome drag to reach its cruising altitude, the force of lift helps it maintain its new position.

As I was staring out of the window, watching the clouds go by, it dawned on me. Just like a plane’s biggest challenge is in the beginning during the takeoff, in life, our biggest challenge is in the beginning. Whether our destination is a new business, getting another degree, getting married or working out more, the hardest part is usually at the start of our journey. Just like the plane has to fight against drag to be able to ascend into the sky, we have to fight against the forces that have limited us before and threaten to keep us from reaching new heights in life. It may not be the aerodynamic force of drag holding us back, but the forces of fear, self-doubt, worry, and lack of discipline can be just as limiting. To overcome those forces, we often have to push ourselves harder than we’ve ever had to before and fight with all our might against the forces trying to drag us back. However, just like a plane can remain high in the sky with less effort due to lift, once we break through the forces holding us back, the effort we used to reach that place will combine with other forces to help us maintain our new position. You definitely can’t cut off you’re proverbial engines and stop putting forth the effort to maintain your new level, but you won’t have to work nearly as hard as you did to get yourself going. The forces of confidence, composure, faith and stability will help you maintain your ability to soar high.

Here’s the catch, though. A plane can’t utilize the force of lift to keep it in the sky if the thrust from its engines is never utilized to get it off the ground. In order for the plane to have access to the force of lift, it must first access its thrust. If the plane never creates enough thrust to break through the barrier of drag, it will never be able to have lift to support it. In the same way, we have to push ourselves to the limit to break through the areas holding us back, so we can have access to the forces that will help us maintain our new level. You can’t get confidence you need to be a successful business owner until you push through the fears that keeping you from writing a business plan. You can’t gain composure to present your dissertation until you fight the self-doubt that’s preventing you from finishing that grad school application. You can’t have the faith to believe that special person is the one if you can’t stop worrying about going on a blind date. You can’t find the stability that comes with good health if you can’t discover the self-control it takes to start a fitness routine. So many times, we give up on new ventures and adventures in life because things are so hard in the beginning and we feel as if we’re struggling just to make the tiniest bit of progress. Because of that, we often give up before we breakthrough the barriers holding us back. But just like a plane can never experience lift without pushing forward through the force of drag, we can never experience the things that will help us maintain our success if we don’t push forward through the forces that are keeping us where we’re at.

So with that being said, DON’T GIVE UP! It may be excruciatingly hard right now but it won’t be this hard forever. Once you push through the forces that are holding you back from reaching your dream, you will find that maintaining that new level will be a lot easier. Yes, you will still have to put in work to keep your new position, but it won’t be nearly as hard as it was when you were starting towards your destination. Stay strong and keep pushing forward! You’re breakthrough will come as long as you keep thrusting yourself towards your destination.

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