Vail Daily letter: Mean to use that word?

In Michael Norton’s piece on the top of page A8 in the Business section June 6, he writes about motivation and momentum that leads to success. I guess he’s a motivational speaker.

He’s trying to describe how to get moving to be successful, possibly after a period of rest or inactivity. In the eighth paragraph, and I paraphrase, he states that “inertia … leads to momentum; momentum leads to traction; traction leads to success, etc, etc.”

Maybe it was a typo, but “inertia” has nothing to do with initiating any type of movement. Maybe he meant “initiative,” or taking a first step.

Inertia, as defined in several places, refers to an object’s resistance to move or resistance to change. In the first definition on, the words “inertness, inactivity and sluggishness” are used. The World English dictionary states “the disinclination to move or act.”

Maybe it was a mistake, a typo, or his Dragon software chose the wrong word. Regardless, the word “inertia” has the opposite meaning than to initiate anything. I’m sure he didn’t imply that “inertness” or “inactivity” or “sluggishness” leads to momentum and then “traction” and so on. That usage wouldn’t pass muster.

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Maybe it was a typo, because the word “inertia” means the opposite of its usage in Mr. Norton’s column. In his motivational lectures, I hope he isn’t using “inertia” as the first step to get moving on a project — unless inertness, sluggishness or inactivity implies something new that I haven’t heard about.

David Schaut


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