“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
The number one rule in battle is to never give up ground that has already been taken. You end up fighting twice for the same victory. How many people do that in their daily lives with their endeavors? I once sat in a room with a pastor and a very close friend of mine who happened to be a serial inventor. The pastor said to that inventor, “You are like a long train of box cars, each one filled with valuable ideas. However, your engine and cargo never reach its final destination. My friend did not have an energy problem or an idea problem; he had a Momentum problem.
It was once said that “the road to failure is paved by good intentions.” Think of all the great projects, ideas, and companies that are out there. Each one began with an idea. That unfortunate thing is that 99 out of 100 good ideas never become a reality. Many ideas fail due to what I call, “the Emotional Cycle of Momentum.”
In the illustration above, an idea begins with great optimism — enthusiastic but uninformed optimism. The inventor begins to move that idea along but also begins to suspect that things may not be as easy as he had imagined (uninformed pessimism). He presses onward, only to discover that there are indeed formidable obstacles and more competition than he realized (informed pessimism). At this point, a majority of those 100 ideas evaporate. The inventor returns to the drawing board and waits for the next great idea to pursue. A small number of those original 100 ideas, perhaps even one in a thousand, become successful due to the effort of an individual who continues to press forward. One simply cannot short cut the fact that faith in the idea and a commitment to seeing it through must be present to survive the valley of despair. If the creator can press through to seeing the fruit of his labors (informed optimism), the dream becomes reality and Momentum can be clearly identified. Remember this: One of the myths of the Emotional Cycle of Momentum is that there is no Momentum present along the ride. It is often there, it’s just harder to see.
We like to talk about the freedom and virtues associated with a fresh start. There are many benefits personally, vocationally, and spiritually to getting a clean slate, to pressing the reset button. Starting over can be refreshing, exhilarating, and full of excitement for the opportunity to get right what before always seemed to go wrong. However, repeatedly starting over is a bad habit that is both the effect and further cause of negative Momentum.
Think of it in spiritual terms. We love to talk about grace, forgiveness, and the ability to start over. Yes, that is an essential part of it. At the same time, the greatest spiritual, emotional, and even financial blessings are the result of long-term faithfulness to a single idea. Reoccurring cycles of failure, repentance, forgiveness, and starting over are like spinning wheels in the mud. Grace is not just the ability to start anew; it is the power to overcome the obstacles that have repeatedly stopped you. The bottom line is that we have to stop starting over.
DISCIPLINE, MILESTONES, AND SUSTAINED MOMENTUM
Jim Collins and Morten Hansen’s latest book, Great By Choice, is the result of a nine-year research project aimed at answering one question: “Why do some companies thrive in uncertainty, even chaos, and others do not?” Collins and Hansen identified what they call “10x Companies.” They write:
“We set out to find companies that started from a position of vulnerability, rose to become great companies with spectacular performance, and did so in unstable environments characterized by big forces, out of their control, fast moving, uncertain, and potentially harmful” (page 7).
Imagine walking from San Diego to Maine. Your goal is to march twenty miles per day, every day, regardless of the weather. You don’t march farther even though you have ambition to achieve, and you don’t do less because you are tired. A key characteristic of the 10x companies is that they identify what their 20-mile march is and stick to it with the rhythm of a metronome. As a co-founder of an intellectual property think tank, I have seen so many people kick, claw, and scratch their way to some milestone. At that point many lose their motivation, sit down, and admire their most recent accomplishment as they fall further behind the attainment of their potential accomplishment. Fanatic discipline is necessary to create Momentum for an individual or a company. It is sustainable Momentum because the personal habits enable them to keep going with great regularity in the most difficult of circumstances.
Does this resonate with you? Have you ever given up in the valley? Have you ever pushed through the moment of Faith and seen the reality of Momentum over Mind?