Archimedes said, "Give me a lever long enough and a place to stand and I will move the earth." He was setting forth an important principle of physics that has held up for centuries. The lever, along with the inclined plane, made possible the building of the Pyramids. Today you make use of the principle of the lever when you use pliers to get a grip on a stubborn bolt or employ a long screwdriver to loosen a rusted screw. But recently I've been thinking that there's another part of Archimedes' statement that bears consideration. He really was asking for three things: a tool for the job, a firm footing, and to be left alone to do the work set out for him. And isn't that what we all need to get through our days?
I served for almost three years in the US Air Force, and I did a lot of growing up in those years. I was drafted out of my specialty training, given a uniform and a set of captain's bars, and sent overseas where I very quickly rose through the heirarchy of the Air Force Hospital where I served (by other doctors rotating back home) to become Deputy Hospital Commander, along with my day-to-day medical duties. And I very quickly learned a lesson. Trust the people who work under you. Make sure they have clear marching orders. Be certain they have the tools to do their job. Then don't get in their way. Most of the time--not all, unfortunately--but most of the time they won't disappoint you.
To this day I hold to the principle that responsibility must carry with it the authority to perform the task at hand. Micro-management by someone looking over your shoulder doesn't help. Or, as my colleague, Dr. Ken Kuykendall, used to say when someone was back-seat-driving his surgical technique: "I can't go any faster, but I sure can get more nervous." That applies in almost any job you can imagine.
The next time you use the principle of the lever to accomplish a task, think about what Archimedes said and how it applies to your life. Maybe you need to give someone a longer lever or more space to operate. Maybe you need to ask for a better place to stand yourself. Whatever the application, I hope you find this little bit of advice helpful.