When it gets chaotic, try accelerating

Edge of Chaos on Themba Jay
Don’t complain! Take corners with fervour.

A public speaking impresario, in a scintillating presentation he’s delivered the world over, once said: Your next thriving period is going to come from the downturn, not the good times. A challenging period in your life he calls “The Edge of Chaos”.

Vusi Thembekwayo submits that it is the professional Moto GP bike riders who accelerate when they reach acute corners. Whilst their counterparts slow down, because it’s sensible to do so. That’s why they consistently do better than other people; instead of whining about tough times they run faster. They do more. They become more.

What an insight!

This finding was first researched and presented by University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business head, Walter Baets. He subsequently wrote a book called Rethinking Growth, and in it, he wrote about the theory of the Edge of Chaos.

He was fascinated that out of, say, 500 professional bike riders which he narrowed down from a longer list (after which point, he whittled the list further down to only five of them); those five were the bikers who consistently won most of the championship titles. So he ventured to find out the reason behind this.

Walter paused his academic career for three years and travelled the world to conduct his research. The findings were mind-twisting.

When he asked the top performers, ” Why do you guys always win out of the large pool of professionals?. They said to him, “We compete at the edge of chaos.”

Walter uncovered. The Moto GP riders, on average, reach a corner doing 248 KM/H. At this point, the other 495 riders slow down. The top five in the world don’t. They accelerate into that corner much more ferociously. It turns out, when they take the corner, they lower the bike as if on its side, lift their bodies, their weight off the machine and onto the opposite side. They leave only a light touch of one leg on the bike and throttle more power on the biking instrument — putting on an additional five kilometres.

They take the corners at 253 KM/H while their counterparts remain at the same speed.

There’s a method behind the madness. They do this not because they don’t value their lives and are just reckless people. They do it because they understand a fundamental law of physics. That if the bike takes the corner at an acute angle, with the least amount of weight on the bike, the bike takes the corner far quicker.

When we reach corners, difficult and frustrating periods in our lives, we easily default into complaining about how unfair life is. Instead of going all-in on the things we are pursuing. I have been guilty of this a lot of times and that has set me back by many years.

After watching the presentation by Vusi, I learnt and internalised that I need to get into the habit of being focused and accelerating when I come across corners and downturns.

So, when it gets chaotic, let’s try accelerating.