Isaac Newton definitely makes my Top 10 list of favorite scientists. And it’s not just because of his uncanny resemblance to Queen guitarist, Brian May.

Newton made so many important discoveries in physics, astronomy, and mathematics, it’s no wonder there are such a wide array of things named after him: telescopes, islands, cities, scientific processes, universities, pets and at least one passenger steamboat.

One of my favorite Newton laws – and one of the biggest crowd-pleasers amongst his greatest hits – is his Third Law of Motion. This is the one that says that “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

What this means is that when you give somebody a high five, the force of your hand hitting theirs is the same as the force of theirs hitting yours.

Equal. Opposite.

Similarly, when you sit in a chair, you are exerting a downward force on the chair that is equal and opposite to the upward force from the chair onto your butt.

Newton never took the time to expand this concept to leadership, so I will.

You’re welcome.

Newton’s Third Law of Leadership

For every big leadership personality, there is an equal and opposite personality balancing it out.

What do I mean?

Good question. I’m not yet sure but take my hand, we’ll figure this one out together.

I recently discussed the importance of admitting when you’re wrong. You can either be right or you can be a great leader, you can’t always be both.

Let’s talk about those people who always believe they are right. You know at least one of them, I’m sure. They are the ones with the big ego; the ones who always blame failure on somebody else.

It is the people with the biggest egos that have the hardest time understanding failure isn’t all their fault, because they are the ones who also have a hard time accepting success isn’t all due to them.

Equal and opposite forces.

In other words, for a leader to accept the fact that they are not the sole source of a company’s failure means they have to accept that they are not the sole source of its success. They have to drop the ego.

Read that paragraph again. Soak it in. I’ll wait….

Do you accept your role when a project fails? Similarly, do you acknowledge others’ influence when a project succeeds?

Remember, the way you are at your best is a reflection of how you are at your worst.

Equal and opposite.

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    A Somewhat Relevant Quote

    We build too many walls and not enough bridges.

    Isaac Newton, guy who got thwacked on the head by an Apple

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