I recently learned something fascinating about supertall skyscrapers. I’ve long known they are built to sway from side to side. The technology used to do this has changed over the past several decades (from the era of the Empire State Building to today’s Burj Khalifa). Something I did not know, though, is that today’s supertall structures use something called a “tuned mass damper,” which is a comparatively smaller mass object inside the building that sways in a manner to reduce the effects of vibrations on the building. In the case of Taipei 101, a beautiful structure in Taipei, Taiwan, the tuned mass damper is a 728-ton pendulum whose motion lags that of the building, thus slowing the sway of the structure. (By the way, you might ask how much 728 tons is. Perhaps it’s easier to visualize 132 elephants. Maybe not.)
Click here for an excellent article about Taipei 101 and its tuned mass damper (TMD). (The article includes a picture of the TMD pendulum and a five second video loop of the TMD in motion.) In my brief research for this article, I have since learned that TMDs are also used in modern automobiles, power transmission lines, wind turbines, bridges, and other systems.
Returning to the example of buildings, the use of TMDs in large structures helps reduce the effect of external influences such as wind and earthquakes. Surprisingly, there is an internal influence that must be countered, too: masses of people moving up and down stairs or other somewhat-synchronized motions. These external and internal forces create vibrations that, lacking a TMD, could result in total structural failure. However, the presence of the TMD, whether it be a spherical pendulum such as the one in Taipei 101, a block of concrete, or some other mechanism, counteracts these vibrations enough to maintain the structural integrity of the structure and keep it safe for use.
All of this got me thinking: What is my TMD?
I experience external forces everyday: competing needs and desires with family members, differences of opinion and goals among coworkers, economic forces, temptation, weather, and so on. The list is endless.
I experience internal forces everyday, too: illness and an aging body, unhealthy attitudes, selfishness, doubt, incorrect thinking, and on and on. This list is endless, too.
These external and internal forces also threaten the integrity of my “structure.” Catastrophic failure in this case could show up in many ways: dysfunctional relationships, manipulative behavior, bad moral character, chronic illness, substance abuse and addiction, use of pornography, and so on. Again, the list is endless.
So what is my TMD? What is my tuned mass damper?
What do I do in my life to reduce the effect of the vibrations caused by these external and internal influences?
My TMD is God’s Word.
By spending time every day reading the book authored by the Creator of the universe—by my Creator—I am better able to retain a healthy perspective on my world and myself. That book is a message to me that explains who God is, what He thinks of me, and what His plan for the world is.
That knowledge helps me keep a proper perspective on the external and internal forces that create vibrations in my life. I have direction for daily living. I have confidence in a God who loves me and has adopted me as His own. I have hope.
Here are some helpful reminders about scripture:
- “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (II Timothy 3:16).
- “The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces” (Psalm 119:72).
- “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105).
- “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
With God’s Word in me, serving as a TMD, I don’t sway so much.
Adopt scripture as your TMD. Start by reading Psalm 119, slowly and thoughtfully, just five minutes a day. You’ll feel those vibrations start to fade away.
Dr. Scott Yorkovich is a leadership coach and consultant. He works with individuals, small and medium organizations, and ministries. Contact him at ScottYorkovich[at]LeadStrategic.com with your questions.