By Joe Byerly
“Kettlebells are useless on the moon”
I recently heard this phrase mentioned by Aubrey Marcus on his AMP podcast. I can’t remember the exact context, but it had to do with the fact that the moon has very little gravity so the benefits of kettlebell swings are nonexistent.
But, this statement is profound. I actually stopped what I was doing when I heard it to grab my notebook and write it down. Think about it: Kettlebells have amazing utility on earth because of the earth’s invisible force -gravity. Therefore, on earth, kettlebells are used as an implement to improve our strength and our power output. But you change the context, remove gravity from the equation, and they become useless.
When it comes to our own strengths and weaknesses, the same concept applies. Yet, we often think we can walk into any situation, apply our distinct leadership style to the problem and boom, excellence!
However, with even a slight change to the context, your tried and trusted tools can become useless, like kettlebells on the moon.
In one staff position, people may applaud you for your attention to detail. Then, when put in charge of an organization full of independent and creative thinkers, that same strength is viewed as a weakness- you’re now considered a micro-manager. In one job you may gain recognition for being deliberate and thoughtful and in another, those same strengths can be viewed as indecisive. A simple change in context can skew others’ perceptions of your strengths and weaknesses.
The lesson here isn’t in physics; it’s in leadership. We need to understand the context of the situation in which we’ve been asked to lead. We need to know the people we’re leading and understand the job requirements. More importantly, we need to know ourselves (through reflection). Once we have a grasp on these considerations, we can properly use our strengths and weaknesses to the benefit of the organization.
Don’t be the leader trying to do kettlebell swings on the moon.
2 thoughts on “Kettlebells Are Useless on the Moon”
Technically not useless. The moon’s surface gravity is approx 1/6 of the Earth’s—just get bigger kettlebells.
We shouldn’t be so quick to recommend jettisoning/morphing our personal kettlebells (traits, abilities, methods, etc.) in service of matching our work environment (which would place us on the border of Machiavellian behavior); instead, perhaps we should consider settling into a niche where the gravity of the situation and our personal kettlebells are harmonious.
Of course, in a military context, this might mean we don’t seek promotion for promotion’s sake. It might mean suppressing our egoistic tendencies to achieve real fulfillment—a meaningful workout routine where our contribution is less about adapting to gravity of our surroundings and more about cultivating gravitas.