A flywheel is a mechanical device designed to efficiently store rotational energy. Well, that’s how an engineer would describe a flywheel. I majored in English. To me, a flywheel is a wheel that’s really hard to get started. Once it gets going, however, it’s really hard to stop.
Whenever we’re starting anything (a blog, a business, a YouTube channel, investing, new healthy habits) the initial work doesn’t lead to much movement. We post a few videos or publish a few blog posts, with only our grandparents as our audience. After a few weeks of this, it’s tempting to think ‘what’s the point’ and quit.
But it’s the people who continue to push the flywheel who gain momentum over time. I remember in the first few months of starting my YouTube channel, I’d refresh the app 50 times a day and when the subscriber count would increment by 1 (from 85 to 86) I’d be overjoyed. On some days, I wouldn’t see any growth at all, but I knew (from years consuming of self-improvement books and podcasts) that I had to keep going.
A friend came over for dinner a few days ago. We were discussing entrepreneurship etc, and he was considering starting a blog to share his experiences of being a part-time DJ whilst in medical school. His main concern was “I don’t want to put in a lot of work if it’s not going to go anywhere”. When he said that, my eyes lit up, and I told him about this flywheel thing that I’d recently read about. I explained that at the start, he’d be putting in a tonne of work and would have absolutely nothing to show for it. But over time, and with consistent effort, the flywheel would start to turn and would change his life.
I’m not sure he was fully convinced, but I was very pleased because now this flywheel thing is part of my vocabulary, and so functions as a nice mental model and a reminder to be patient and consistent in everything we do.