‘It is significantly easier to cross a gap when you have direction and momentum’
– Seth Godin
Momentum is a funny thing. When you’ve got it you feel as though anything is possible and you can confidently take on new challenges. Other times it can seem elusive and a struggle to develop. A lack of it can leave you feeling uninspired, sluggish and if we are not careful, ‘stuck’. It’s often hard to describe and yet it is nearly always our secret magic weapon to achieving success.
Momentum can’t be faked… you’ve either got it or you haven’t. Most of us have experienced that feeling of procrastination, avoidance or just dread at starting something some new. How many of us though have embarked upon a new project or business strategy only to find that once we actually started, it really wasn’t that hard or tedious. Why? Because it was actually the thought of having to start that was the hard bit. Once we got the proverbial ball rolling, the ideas came; we found our flow and discovered that it was significantly easier and often more rewarding than anticipated.
Understanding that it is far easier to create momentum when things are already in motion is critical if we are to successfully manage both our careers and the teams and businesses we lead. It is also a great motivator for keeping the momentum alive. Creating momentum will not only help us overcome the challenges that invariably come up but it will help us remain focused, clear minded and forward thinking rather than stagnating. It doesn’t mean that we will always have a straight and easy path to navigate but rather our ability to nimbly move, adjust and grow along the path will be greatly enhanced.
It only takes a loss of momentum for us to realize just how critical it is. Without it we are far more likely to find ourselves distracted and doubting our ability to actually achieve what we set out to do. As Jocelyn Glei so aptly points out in her article The Art Of Momentum: Why your Ideas Need Speed:“Our inner critic awakens and we start second guessing ourselves. Other people’s demands creep in, vying for our attention and focus. We start to generate shiny, new ideas that seem even more worthy of execution, tempting us to move onto the next big thing without ever finishing”.
And herein lies the danger – we can’t actually create momentum if we aren’t ever really finishing anything. It is in the success of delivery, implementation and review that we find new ways to grow and improve and innovate on what we do.
In understanding how momentum drives this cycle of success we need to understand the benefits it delivers:
- Momentum creates success by enhancing performance
- Momentum dilutes obstacles and issues
- Momentum creates energy
- Momentum opens us up to possibility and makes change easier
To create career and leadership momentum we need to actively engage and invest in ourselves. We need to reflect, assess, re-assess and plan with consistency. Failing to do so can be costly as we can all too easily find ourselves ‘stuck’ in roles or organisations that no longer provide us with the challenge or fulfillment we once craved. It is then that the thought of having to change can seem overwhelming and all too difficult.
So what can we do to ensure we ‘keep the ball rolling’ and create momentum? I would encourage you to consider the following seven areas:
Take Action: Do something. Define what you want or need to do; make decisions (indecision is dangerous and paralysing); focus on creating solutions rather than the problem itself. Sometimes it is in making the wrong decisions help us to understand what will work and determine the right course of action.
Build Consistency: Consistency builds belief, ensures relevance and creates accountability and stability. It is essential that we build consistency in our actions that drive performance, engagement and learning – both internally and externally.
Focus on Your Strengths: When we focus on and leverage our strengths we operate with a higher degree of productivity and efficiency. We make decisions faster, reach out and ask for help earlier and attract opportunities that capatilise on our talents and skillsets.
Embrace Learning: Learning doesn’t finish when you graduate or when you pass the probation period of a new job. It is an ongoing, life-long process that needs to be planned for, invested in and created. By being proactive in educating yourself, you are much more strongly positioned to act and react with greater speed, clarity and confidence.
Identify The Building Blocks: All too often we focus on the final destination as our first and only measure of success. As a result when we fail to recognise and celebrate our achievements incrementally we find ourselves discouraged and tempted to quit the whole game. It’s important to set realistic yet challenging milestones that help us build both momentum and confidence.
Collaborate:The quickest way to slow or kill momentum is to insist on going it alone. Learning how to leverage the knowledge, talents and time of others is critical to producing a productive and efficient outcome.
Connect: Invest in the right relationships – both internally and externally – and dedicate time and energy to them. Identify your key influencers and thought leaders, and identify a meaningful pathway of how to approach and engage with them.
Building career and leadership momentum takes time. It is not a tap that you can just turn on when you decide that you need to make a change or commence a new project. It is however something that you can choose to invest in building today – is now the time to get the ball rolling?