Monday, April 6, 2015

The Power of Momentum

By bukk (Own work)
[GFanalyDL (
or CC-BY-SA-3.0
via Wikimedia Commons
When you are learning to ride a bike as a kid, lots of things come into play at once. Even if you have training wheels on to let you ignore the balance part at first, there is still the combination of pedaling while steering and paying attention to what is going on around you. Let's not forget starting and stopping as well. That complexity can be overwhelming at first, and you might choose to stop pedaling just to get your bearings.

The problem is, and you can figure it out pretty quickly, if you stop pedaling, the bike will stop moving. That is a great way to go absolutely nowhere. What's worse, when you try to get started again, you have to use a substantial bit more energy to get the bike rolling again.

The same challenge exists in work and business. Often when we get started on something new, there is all kinds of chaos that surrounds the project. The chaos can easily distract us from the forward progress and motion on the project. Sometimes, it might distract us so much that we stop moving altogether, to analyze the situation and determine the right course of action before moving forward.

What this can lead to has often been termed analysis paralysis, where we let the chaos and indecision prevent us from making any forward progress. What's worse, this analysis feels like work. It feels like progress, but it is really like trying to steer that bike without pedaling. After stopping, it can be even more difficult to get started again on the project, as you come up with more and more reasons to keep analyzing or planning around it, justifying inaction.

Instead of not acting, it is important to act. And act in a way that propels the project or activity forward. Pedal. Even if the course is not entirely set, you can start making progress on what you know while you figure out the rest of the plan. Just like riding the bike, the more progress you make, the easier it will be. There will be hills along the way, requiring you to pedal harder to get up to the summit, but there will also be spots to coast. Regardless, to get anywhere, it all starts with pedaling. Once you are rolling, you have to keep pedaling and pedaling to capitalize on the momentum and gain even more speed. If you do ever slow down, make it an intentional use of the brake rather than just forgetting to pedal.