Momentum: What it is and 5 Ways to Get It
Negative momentum punches you in the gut every step of the way. But, positive momentum makes everything easier.
It is never the size of your problem that is the problem.
It’s a lack of momentum.
5 truths about the momentum:
- Momentum magnifies success.
- Momentum shrinks problems and obstacles.
- Momentum energizes.
- Momentum enhances performance.
- Momentum makes change easier.
(Adapted from: The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, by John Maxwell. — Must reading for all leaders.)
- Cheering people on.
- Giving compliments and affirmations.
- Positive feedback.
- Pumping people up.
These four things may fuel momentum, but they aren’t the Big Mo.
Momentum can’t be faked.
- Momentum whispers, “You matter.”
- Momentum feels things are getting better.
- Momentum believes wins are probable.
- Momentum is hope, courage, energy, and focus combined.
The difference between excitement and momentum is depth.
- Momentum is a series of successful endings not beginnings. Excitement happens at the beginning. Momentum builds at the end.
- Momentum sneaks up on you. One day you look around and say, Wow! we’re going places. Excitement flares up; momentum builds up.
- Every win is one step toward momentum. If you can’t define the win, you can’t achieve momentum.
- Reach big wins through a series of small wins. Successful leaders build small wins into big initiatives.
- Momentum begins with successful endings, but requires next steps. Momentum cools when you stop moving forward.
Successful leaders build momentum. Lousy leaders destroy it.
- Devaluing small contributions.
- Talking problems more than progress.
- Separating deliverables from people. People, not processes, get things done.
- Focusing on weakness rather than strength.
- Controlling rather than releasing. When people ask permission they lose momentum.
Momentum builds slow with hard work. But, lousy leaders let the steam out quickly. Of all the things you do, make building momentum a priority.
What is momentum?
How can leaders build momentum on teams and in organizations?
Momentum is moving forward with a twinkle and a sparkle in each step feeling and breathing success in the air, waking up to each morning with a passion and looking forward to each day. Who won’t follow a leader that can pass that kind of positivity and optimism. It only takes a spark to get the fire going !
Thanks Choong… and a bounce in the step. 🙂
Your best post in my opinion since I found ya Dan.
Good question too.
Leaders do not build momentum, their followers do.
Know most do not really get this and it is a wittle out there for most BUT we are energy systems. We radiate good vibrations or bad, we secrete stuff, enzymes and what not.
We are the most amazing of the BIG Energy Source in the Sky, if you will. Plus the most complex of what we are aware of do far.
Point is and no I do not partake in hippy lettuce, just have an open, curious mind. Point is it really all boils down to energy.
Luke, Luke….be a force for good and the force will be with ya!!! Lol
In my opinion they help in the process by hiring the right people, people who believe what they believe.
Great post thanks Dan.
SP EA. back to being a positive energy conduit!!!!
Thanks Scott. Manage energy! 🙂
What a great topic. Unlike motivation, building and keeping momentum takes sustained effort. The leader acts alot like a coach where momentum is concerned. The leader remains vigilant for obstacles thinking two to three steps ahead, making sure resources and manpower is availiable to tackle futrue issues. Leaders need to be there for critical decsion making but otherwise can take a back seat and allow the team ot work, grow, and build continuity. Never underestimate the effectiveness of a sincere ‘atta-boy’. When present show confidence, speak with confidence, and if your happy with progress, “don’t forget to tell your face, it’s ok to smile”.
Thanks SGT. Glad you brought the coach to this conversation. Changing momentum in that context might be taking a player out and putting another in. It might be calling time-out.
I needed this post today.
Lately I’ve been taking on a lot of challenges and not getting to see many endings.
AND I’ve been talking problems instead of progress. This has occurred in my personal life, not in any leadership role. But the concepts still apply.
Thank you for the reminders.
Thanks Dauna. I respect your transparency. I drift toward problems rather than progress, as well. It’s just great that leadership ideas have strong application to our personal lives.
Vindicating post. When I assess a project I evaluate velocity and momentum. Velocity is measured completions vs plan. Momentum is as you described it. Momentum leads to velocity. Velocity isn’t sustainable without momentum. On projects you need both. Momentum is more important. Thanks.
Thanks Glenn. The idea that momentum sustains velocity should make us all sit up and take notice!
“You matter.” Makes all the difference.
Thanks Vicki. A short comment matters, too.
An incredible essay today.
And I thought the one you had yesterday was remarkable.
This one goes to the pinnacle.
Absolutely outstanding job.
More CEO need to understand the word – – MO MEN TUM
Thanks David. We get so caught up with all the details that we forget to take a look at the big picture. In this case, it’s about keeping in touch with the emotional state of the team. 🙂
Been having some parallel discussions here too Dan… going through the motions is not creating momentum….
Being genuine (engaging true momentum) cannot be faked…while that sounds simple..each person can sense in a nanosecond if you are truly present and invested or just talking the walk.
Thanks Doc. Writing this post made me think about the difference between employing a technique to generate excitement and building real momentum. YOu can get excited and not do anything. Momentum, on the other hand, requires action. And as you indicate, authentic action.
Project managers that focus on paperwork rather than people and progress are momentum killers. They are much more concerned with proving they did all the ‘right’ things, rather than actually making progress towards the goal.
Thanks Wendy. When all that matters is the numbers then people feel like numbers. Pretty hard to generate momentum when people feel that don’t matter as people.
AND…momentum doesn’t exist until something is ‘moving’.
I meet with each of my project teams weekly with the explicit intention of our “moving forward together,” with the focus on the project’s mission, by solving problems, resolving issues, removing obstacles, and providing resources. We plan our work for the week and commit to work the plan. At the end of each meeting I inquire directly if there is anything that someone doesn’t like, speak now, or carry out our agreements.
I like your approach Paul. Set the vision, determine how to get there, “and go”!
Paul, imagine if you dual coded those activities?
Only thing that does is enhance memory and comprehension.
Think that would benefit you and your teams?
It is kinda like being farsighted or nearsighted and adding glasses.
Send me a few goals, they do not have to have anything to do with what you are working on, just for example sake. I will create them in a dual coding format and you can understand better what I am talking about.
Free, just the time it takes you to email me.
Cya, either that or do the best you can with the nearsighted, farsighted thingy.
Thanks Paul. Love your approach. I”m assuming that your meetings include celebrations as well.
Another essential to building momentum is alignment. If our teams don’t have a clear, shared understanding of where our organization is going, momentum cannot be built. Great post, Dan.
Thanks Dan. Yup!! We have to feel like the progress we are making takes us where we want to go. Good call.
Yep… but it can work both ways!
Momentum keeps me ‘sane,’ it fuels passion for what lies ahead each day. There is a positive energy that comes with it. I also believe momentum improves productivity.
Thanks Yvonne…. yes and YES.. 🙂
Momentum starts with intent.
Thanks Martin. Intriguing…intent to build momentum.
Hello Dan, You say: Momentum is a series of successful endings. I completely agree. This is how I (and the team) see continual improvement. Our goal, our intent, is to get better and better. Momentum propels the team forward. Our intention was to create that momentum … not only for us but others too. As ever, Martin
Nicely said Martin. You make me think of my current mantra for the team I lead, “Make it better.”
In regards to #3 for momentum busters, “Separating deliverables from people.” One could replace people with individuals. I find having a single point of accountability for each piece of the project defines responsibilities to minimize confusion.
Thanks alex… I can see where clarity helps fuel momentum. Too many cooks spoil the stew.
Everyone has heard of Momentum and even seen it—especially when it changes. But not many can explain its reality. We know Momentum is an energy, a force, an impetus that can change moment by moment via an energy 4-times greater (the Inverse Square Law) than that to be overcome. We see this change most profoundly in sporting events, when a team is behind, and all of the sudden the momentum of the game changes, the losing team attains this positive nature, picks up energy as well as points. The same is true in business and personal life too: Things change as a result of positive energy that is 4-times greater than before.
Momentum, then, is the visible energy of our effort in moving toward our goal. The moment we choose to create Momentum, we change outcome.
Obvious you got a big brain RM!!!! Big props for your big brain!! Another obvious thing I observe is you use it!!! Even bigger props for that!!!
Just wanted to add that a thought does not really change anything. It can start a process but if not followed up with like thoughts combined with emotion, just an idle thought passing through.
Read in my research that if we get the thought humming for 17 seconds it gets where it needs to to begin its journey to becoming effective.
Well 17 for one thought??? Long thought!! Lol So I got to train my brain to learn to repeat thoughts, add intense emotion, experience results.
The brain is like any other muscle and it is NOT practice it needs to produce its best result. It is PERFECT practice that produces the most effective, beneficial results.
Great add though, very impressed with your heart and big ole brain.
Thank you, EffectivenessActivator–especially for your comment about my heart. Have you heard this before: “Readers make the read.” Dan and Leadership Freak is truly a “Think Tank,” Dan is a very, very bright guy. What he writes and how he writes in a few short sentences is so intriguing to me that it freaks me out. What also freaks me out is the quality of readers or audience that respond and the quality of comments…you guys dwarf any of Harvard’s MBA courses. Take, for example, your comment back to me. You
first prefaced your comment by basically saying I am sort-of an “intellectual giant, but an emotional dwarf.” Then you told me why…for which I humbly stand corrected. Note, because I respect this forum so very much–otherwise I’d be out and about–I try to bring dimension and expanse to the varied comments. Thanks again.
Thanks Rick. Interesting take on this. I’ll add that one must accomplish something as well as choosing to feel momentum. We may be able to feel excitement without doing anything but momentum is a response to taking action.
BTW, love the connection of sports to this conversation!
I understand, Dan. Momentum is its own accomplishment. The coach or leader doesn’t create Momentum except to tell one’s team to “Go for it. Win! Shoot your butt off. Play with reckless abandon.” When the team is unleashed–unshackled from the plan that hasn’t worked–like the hail-Mary pass, for example–I believe the gates of Momentum are opened for moment to moment achievements that lead to overall success. This is the vision I see in your post here and in even in your last post on disruption leadership: Leaders not only free staff but give their “the right to perform.”
Great post! Here is my take.
Work together, work hard, keep score. Learn and build mo from a loss, celebrate together & build mo on a win. It’s alright to spike the ball, just don’t be so quick to throw the ball into the stands until the HUGE win comes.
Give every win the proper celebration it deserves. Not too much, not too little. Too much makes you look arrogant or unbelievable and at worst desperate. Desperate celebrations smell like flowers at a funeral. They look good, but something in the room isn’t quite right.
If you celebrate too little, you simply waste a great opportunity to build off of it.
Invite / promote the win by celebrating others contributions to the win but also by inviting others to celebrate with you.
Cast more vision in the moment, in proper doses as you celebrate the successful “finishes.”
Keep the next win in sight. “The game isn’t over yet, but we sure did kick some butt on that play…now somebody help me plan the next end zone dance.”
Your posts are always on point; this one is top shelf work. Thank you for sharing the intricacies of momentum. Timely truth.
My first time reading your blog. Great post. Thanks for sharing.
A very timely post for myself. My momentum will now be going back in a positive direction.
MY O MY WHAT PRAGMATIC FRESH AND HIDDEN MANNA REVEALED!