Momentum (Part 1)

"Success requires first expending ten units of effort to produce one unit of results. Your momentum will then produce ten units of results with each unit of effort." ~ Charles J. Givens

Momentum is defined as "The impetus and driving force gained by the development of a process or course of events." Impetus is the force that makes something happen. It's the impulse to act.

Understanding our impulse to act is the key behind building momentum.

Do you feel your life has momentum right now?

In any area of our life, what causes us to build momentum, and what causes us to lose momentum?

We lose momentum when we get to comfortable. When life gets too comfortable, we stop growing and we lose momentum.

A little bit of discomfort allows us to keep the momentum going.

We've all experienced periods of significant progress in our lives. Times when our health (and our weight) was ideal for us. When our career was growing and exciting to us. When our creative juices produced something we were extremely proud of. Bursts of insights. Epiphanies. These were periods of being blissfully unaware of anything except our engagement in the activity itself.

[Inject experience at Ragbrai]

Momentum precedes our greatest accomplishments. It's typically the uncomfortable stretches we make, which we are unaware of after the fact.

To become what your not requires you to do what you won't.

Our greatest setbacks on the other hand are often proceeded by a loss of momentum.

Sidebar: Being less agreeable is not always a bad thing. This is especially potent for people pleasers. If your impulse to act is always driven your impulse to please, will you ever put yourself first? To satisfy our needs is often in direct conflict of satisfying the needs of others. It's matter of conflicting priorities, and tension is a given.

I recall of a friendship I lost. The loss didn't happen in an instant (although it felt as it did). The abrupt stop (event) was simply the result of a loss of momentum in our friendship over time.

Why do we lose momentum? How can it be sustained?

America as a whole is losing momentum. We have been for years. Why? Because life in America, in general, depending on your perspective, is extremely comfortable. Because we avoid discomfort by default, we lose momentum.

To regain momentum, we must be willing to address what we usually try to avoid - discomfort. Discomfort can show up in different ways:


The momentum of an idea

The ideas fueled by action are the ones that have momentum. Ideas have a lifecycle that is directly impacted by the momentum of action that pushes the idea forward. Keep the momentum by taking action, no matter how small. Often, all it needs is a small push to keep the momentum going once you have it. It's known as the flywheel concept.

When a idea lingers for too long, you begin to lose momentum. Set an expiration date to remind yourself to give the task a little attention to keep it going.

Momentum is a flywheel

Feed the flywheel!

Amazon, Costco, and Walmart have fed the flywheel in similar ways. It allows them to grow their business. They offer lower prices to attract more customers. The increased foot traffic (or website visits) attracts more vendors, and allows them to negotiate lower costs. They make additional profit through in store (or onsite) advertising to new vendors seeking exposure.

In my own services business, I have built momentum by providing the services others need. AuthorDock is the engine that allows me to run my business more efficiently. The services I provide build momentum with clients in the form of trust. When I perform well, clients ask to assist with other aspects of their business. Over the years, the high volume of clients I've helped has attracted key partners who can offer complimentary services (i.e. cover design, editing, marketing). What's key is that I stay relevant in the eyes of my clients.

You need to stay a bit uncomfortable to stay relevant. ~ Larry Page

Why do most of us lose momentum at a critical time?

The end of a project is a critical time. It's the ideal time to start on the next project, one that builds on the success of the one just completed. It's the point when we are at the greatest risk of losing momentum, yet the time when it's the easiest to keep it going. It just takes a small does of discomfort.

The difference between a small success and large one is the ability of the individual to build from past successes. To maintain momentum.

For me, that's the discomfort of the ask. The ask for a testimonial. An extension of our contract (God forbid they say no). The ask for honest feedback (go forbid we take an criticism).

Again, because our default is to avoid discomfort, most of the time we fail at keeping the momentum. In order to sell more services, you have to engage the client while you have momentum. Once you lose momentum, it requires a new catalyst to restart, and that catalyst may never be found.

Find a low barrier to entry, build trust, and when appropriate, make the ask. If they say no, then simply accept the fact you asked too soon.

Success in business is quite simple, it's the skillful execution that's difficult. Identify a product/service that fills a need. Provide a low risk (or no risk) route to build a relationship. Do your best work and let your work speak for itself. Marketing is easy when your priority is the client.

In the world of creatives, it's all about building exposure and maintaining connection with your fans. A fan is defined by one who pays you for your work, promotes you, and enable you to keep doing it. Raving fans are the tribe who see your value, see your desires, and feed your flywheel. To keep fans engaged, seek to produce work that you admire yourself. A single book or album is only the start. For successful creatives, creating new work is an ongoing facet of their livelihood. They never let themselves get too comfortable with their past successes.

Your entry point is the creative work. Once your best work is ready, find ways to showcase it, and see each showcase as a performance. Tune into the feedback of the audience and refine your craft. Authors never hit a homerun without a lot of strike outs.

Look for unconventional avenues for exposure. Authors who teach at writers conferences are feeding the fan flywheel. Through collaborations, musicians expand their fan base.

Lack of progress and perception

One of the chief killers of momentum is feeling a sense we are not making progress. As a result, we often abandon too soon.

Time and expectations

When we don't get the results we expect, we get frustrated. Frustration is a form of discomfort. Frustration is good, because like failure, it's a sign of progress.

Results do not usually immediately follow. The common phrase 'result may vary' is worth injecting here. Marketers often mislead people into believing that results occur sooner than they will.

Cause and effect rarely follows a linear path.

To often, due to they nature of time delay, people give up that which is in fact working, too soon.

Because cause and effect are delayed by time, we often give up too soon. Give the results time to appear. I am struct by the difference between myself, who stopped after 50+ interviews, and Tom who went on to interview over 1000 people.

Further reading

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Q. What are some areas of discomfort you identify with?