Speed vs Velocity

There is an adage that says, “Speed Kills.” I believed that for a very long time. For example, if you go too fast in your car, you can lose control of it, and die quickly. A bullet tossed has not got the destructive force of a bullet shot. If you simply back into a goat’s horns, they do not have the impact of the same horns if the goat happens to be charging full-speed at your hind side. Obviously, speed is an awesome power that needs to be respected and harnessed in order to avoid harm, or conversely to achieve great good. I felt the need to learn how to slow things around me, or speed myself up to handle the challenge.

So I made all haste - but not too fast, mind you! - to learn to manage the speed of my life. While driving, I made sure I kept or stayed under the speed limit. I planned my day with an eye to having enough time between appointments. I even let people know they had to give me time to absorb the meaning in what they were saying, so I could be sure of understanding all they were saying. In addition, I studied hard to know things ahead of time, to anticipate what would be needed, to pre-plan what I would be doing so as to avoid losing control of the situation. However, life being what it is, the expected rarely happens, and I would find that I had spent valuable time planning for things that never materialized and taking up the precious hours and minutes of my life with ultimately unnecessary activity. All the meticulous efforts and preparations I had made, while slowing the influx of life around me, had also irritated the life out of the people around me, who like water around a rock, just passed me by and flowed quickly on without me.

That wasn’t good.

But, what was the answer? It wasn’t until I took a Physics class that I realized my error. You see, it isn’t speed that kills; it’s velocity. Until the Professor explained the difference between the two, I had no idea there was one. Speed can be defined as, “rapidity in moving, going, traveling, proceeding, or performing; swiftness; celerity…”(1) In short: how fast are you moving in any one direction? That is your speed. However, velocity is a different matter altogether. It is, “the time rate of change of position of a body in a specified direction,”(2) or a change in speed or direction. This definition changes everything. And it makes more sense. Speed is how you handle a straight road. Velocity is how you handle a curvy one. And life, I have found, is fraught with curves, bumps, hairpin turns, and all manner of changes.

Reckoning with velocity instead of just speed was more meaningful and leads to more life success. I applied this idea to my own life and began making big changes. I began to see not just one future, but several probable ones to set up for. I knew I could not plan as far ahead in a concrete sense, but I could chart a trend, and make my choices based on where I wanted the trend to take me. It was a new way of thinking and operating. This theory had applications in decision-making, correlation of facts, and unit-learning. Things began to take shape, not as a linear function, but as a web of understanding of my world. I could train myself to “pre-see” likely outcomes, and prepare myself for the next decision point, at which I could (because I had prepared) take the turn-off of my own choosing, then use all the powers of my brain to check my course and decide on which courses of action might occur, and how to plan for them in order to achieve a goal in keeping with my trend. What is equally amazing is that, by increasing my velocity, I also managed to increase the speed at which I am reaching my goals.

If you’ve seen the recent film, “Limitless,” you have seen some of this same sort of thinking fictionalized. But, it’s not fiction, and it doesn’t come in a little pill. No one can steal it; no one owns the rights to it. It is the kind of thought process that you really can develop in yourself. If you would like to learn how to think three-dimensionally, I would love to help you. Contact me and let’s talk about where you want to go, and what you would like to do once you get there. It can be amazing.


Theresa Your physics still needs a little work. Velocity is speed plus direction. Changing the direction requires changing the objects momentum. As they say, "It is not the fall that hurts it is the sudden stop." That is a big change in momentum. Momentum has direction as well. A car speeding along a curvy road is changing its velocity and momentum as it goes through those curves. As a passenger inside the car your body wants to continue traveling in a straight line, but the car forces you to follow the curve. As a result, you feel a sideways force when going through the curve.
LOL Which is why I am better at tutoring people in developing brain plasticity and creativity than in tutoring Physics. (Which I'm sure you've noticed I DON'T tutor!) But, seriously, I guess it's Momentum that is the force that needs to be respected. Whatever it is called in Physics, I am trying to encourage people to develop the ability to change their tactics as the exterior conditions change, so as to be more successful in school and in life. Inflexibility is very limiting, as I'm sure you are aware. Thank you for reading my blog, and for your intelligent and thought-provoking comment!


Theresa H.

Art, Theatre, English, Reading, Special Ed and Creativity!

3250+ hours
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