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  • Kit Allowitz

Go-karts, The Governor, Enkrateia and Don’t Pull the Chicken Switch

Between 1984 and 1986, my brother and I (I was 13 and my brother 12) co-owned a massive piece of junk go-kart.

We practically worshiped this endlessly broken-down pile of metal, bolts and rubber. We did not care that it was a piece!

This contraption was our wheels, our thrill machine and our ticket to freedom.

We endlessly performed operations on this go-kart to keep it running. Fixes included creative surgeries with duct-tape, re-screwing or reapplying nuts and bolts, and re-attaching various pieces that were constantly falling off.

We lived out in the boonies of Oregon. We drove this go-kart wherever we wanted. To be honest, even against our parent’s command, we drove on the many country roads that crisscrossed our world.

I’m not sure, even to this day, which dilemma caused more ‘groundings’ from the go-kart. The fact that it was broken down OR our parents caught us…or heard about (and that was good enough for them) our race track adventures in the hood.

The ‘grounded from the go-kart’ factor combined with the percentage of time it was broken down amounted to more time than we actually drove the go-kart.

This was frustrating.

My brother and I repeatedly felt that we didn’t control our world or what we did. For us, the possibility of self-governance seemed highly controlled, restricted or left the broken-down go-kart goddess.

We worked around this conundrum as best we could.

The go-kart served as our ticket to the bigger world.

In 1984, there was simply nothing cooler for me than jamming out to, Duran Duran with my Sony Walkman in my ears while climbing to speeds of close to 20 MPH (downhill with tail wind).

My brother and I were always looking for ways to get, gander, manipulate, do whatever it took to get more juice out of the machine, more output, and more torque from our toy.

One piece of the go-kart we stumbled into while attempting to fix yet another mechanical engine conundrum was the engines governor.

We immediately were ecstatic.

That is not strongly enough stated. We were gored! Gored means stabbed, spiked and hobnailed. It was like we had found sugar for the first time on that day! Go-karting was never the same for either of us after that day.

Ever messed with an engineer’s governor?

The governor is a mechanical device on an engine used to regulate the mean speed.

The governor, sometimes called the speed limiter can be used to limit (or in our case open-up) the top speed for vehicles, often as a legal requirement.

Governors can also be used to limit rotational speed of the internal combustion of an engine and protect it from damage due to excessive rotational speed. The governor

limits fuel to the engine to a maximum ‘safe’ speed.

Being 12 and 13 years old respectively, my brother and I had been dreaming, wishing, pleading with the universe for ways to satisfy our budding ‘need for more speed.’

The universe came through that day.

We found that there was literally a lever that could uncork additional latent energy, power and force to our 5-horsepower engine. The additional dormant energy that we did not know existed but craved.

That magic lever… one had told us …...made top speed faster, output higher, made the engine roar and whine louder, made taking corners with more drift surreal as well as making higher quality ‘cookies’…all possible!

Have you ever struggled with something, whatever it is in life, professionally or personally and then someone, something gives you insight, information, knowledge and the ‘light’ comes on? Your life gets better, wiser, quicker, smoother or faster?

Insight can make all the difference if you do something with it, if you have the desire and then choose to act on it.

To go where you say you want to go, you must take knowledge and desire, which creates awareness and choice to make a commitment and then act.

My brother and I acted on this new knowledge we acquired.

We felt as if our self-governance grew the day we found the governor.

This self-governance is called Enkrateia.


There is a really cool word that a student of Socrates wrote about. The students name is, Xenophon. He was a Greek philosopher, historian and soldier.

The word is called Enkrateia. It means self-governance.

Enkrateia is often defined as having self-control, yet it is more accurate and stronger to say that enkrateia is the art of having and doing self-governance. The root kratia means government and is the basis of such words as democracy (demokratia- rule by the people).

Enkrateia is that hard to pronounce word that describes this inner ‘governor’ we all have that allows us to control what we think, what we say and how we behave. It is what makes it possible to exercise resourcefulness and initiative to not pull the chicken switches in life in pursuit of achieving what we want.

The idea of Enkrateia is the theme of Plato’s work, “Republic.” His insights as much about how to design an ideal political state but instead Plato uses the example of a physical city-state as a metaphor to better understand the principles of an inner, self-governance. *

My brother and I discovered our go-kart governor had been turned way down! Imagine that. We suspect to this day (30 plus years later) that our father was the saboteur!

Once turned up, the governor changed the limits of what was possible. We blew past 20 MPH! In fact, we found we no longer had to pull over on our country roads when cars got up close behind us. We could now keep up with the cars!

Enkrateia is recognizing we have a governor in our lives that is very often set to the left and it simply needs to be flicked to the right, amping up what’s possible.

Sometimes, the governor is so far to the right we need to self-correct and come back to a place of wisdom and balance, bumping the lever just a touch back to the left.

With the awareness of a governor in our lives, we become aware that we control what we think, what we say, how we behave and literally what is possible.

Where is your governor set?

Has someone or is someone sabotaging (consciously or subconsciously) yours?

Is that someone you?

Is there a chance you could bring the governor to a place of ideal efficiency?

What happens if you fine tune your governor?

I wish you energy, knowledge and desire to take the time to look at your governor and act appropriately.

*Kraut, Richard. Aristotle's Ethics. In: The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2012 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)

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