Harness momentum like an elite athlete and tap it to achieve your long-term goals.
Everyone gets stuck at times. Athletes call it getting in a slump. If you’re in business, it could be a plateau in sales. Or in a relationship, it could feel like a rut. Regardless of the context, if you’re an achiever or a leader, breaking through to the next level requires understanding how to tap into the power of momentum.
Momentum is one of the strongest forces in life. Once you unleash momentum, it’s easier to succeed than it is to fail. Momentum is the difference between long-term success and failure. People who succeed have mastered how to create long-term, sustainable momentum.
Have you ever watched an athlete or team that’s just dominating another player or team, and then all of a sudden somebody does something or creates a spark, steals the ball, intercepts it, whatever in that sport — and wham! The energy shifts, and the other team starts to take over: That’s momentum.
The fact is it’s actually easier to succeed than it is to fail. But if you want to build positive momentum, you must become certain on how to get results in advance, in your mind and body. Most people call this visualization. Tap into what is actually working and repeat, and repeat, and repeat. You will feel the result over and over again. Then your body believes it and takes over.
The best players in the world do this in basketball. Multiple studies have revealed how using visualization of a perfect practice free throw allows players to make perfect free throws more consistently when they physically practice. It’s practicing the perfect technique or actions that matters most. By seeing and feeling what they wanted to achieve every time, players — and you — can build circuitry and certainty in the body. So when it comes time to do it, your mind and body will execute. To build momentum, find ways to increase certainty in your body, even for things you’ve never accomplished before.
I’ll give you an example. In May 1954, legendary British runner Roger Bannister became the first man to run a mile in under 4 minutes — 3 minutes, 59.4 seconds to be exact. The feat had never been achieved before. To reach the unreached milestone, Bannister later explained how he visualized breaking the 4-minute mark before it ever happened by imagining himself running through the tape as it was announced that he had broken the world record. This visualization helped propel him to the record.
Soon, Bannister was not alone in achieving the once seemingly unreachable feat. Just 46 days later, Bannister’s record was broken by his main Australian rival, John Landy. No one had done it in history, but now one guy, then two did it. A year later, three more runners did it. Many years later, more than 200 people have done it, including high school students. So the question is, what happened when Bannister broke the once unachievable 4-minute barrier?
Momentum. Others became certain it could be done. And it changed what was possible and the previous pattern of what was considered normal achievement.
You may struggle for years and years to grow your business, its client base, revenues, and brand standing, and it can prove frustrating. And then one day, you figure out the pattern. It’s almost like having a wrench on one of those fire hydrants. Once it opens, it flows and it keeps flowing. This is what you need to tap into.
THE CHALLENGE IS MANY PEOPLE BUY INTO A BELIEF THAT MAKES THEM MORE LIMITED THAN THEIR TRUE CAPACITY.
So how do you do this consistently? How do you get momentum when it’s not there? There’s a cycle to it. I call it “The Success Cycle.” We did a deep dive into “The Success Cycle” recently during the “Unleash the Power Within” virtual event. Here is the abridged version for you to consider.
“The Success Cycle” is a virtuous cycle. The more you succeed, the more you want to succeed, and the more you find a way to succeed through recognizing your potential, taking massive action, seeing the results, and having the belief or certainty that you will succeed.
If I ask, “What’s the potential of any human being?” what would you say it is? How about: Infinite. Unlimited.
The challenge is many people buy into a belief that makes them more limited than their true capacity. Individual emotions often mess up the momentum we seek because they limit us and what’s possible. When you’re experiencing negative momentum, it’s easier to fail than to succeed. It becomes a downward spiral. What happens is you go, “I’m going to gain all these new customers by doing this.” And then your brain goes, “I’ve tried that before. It didn’t work. I tried all these times.” And so you lose your certainty. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
It sounds simple, but to gain or regain momentum, you must first adjust what you seek to achieve to your beliefs and attitudes, which enables you to see the potential. See the potential of what’s possible rather than any barriers. Celebrate a positive — no matter how small — and upward momentum can follow. Stop telling yourself something is impossible. Accept the possibility of success.
You don’t weed your garden merely by thinking, “Weeds, go away!” Results require more than thoughts or words. They require action.
It may take time, patience, and overcoming a steep learning curve to accomplish something you have never tried before. You’re not going to become a master overnight, but you can experience massive growth in a short amount of time with enough concentrated effort. Recognizing how the training effect works is one of the key factors for business success. If you know you’ll eventually hit a plateau, have a plan in place to break through. That way, you’ll keep your momentum and not get stuck, climbing even higher toward your set goal(s).
To complete the cycle, you must accurately assess the results. We all tend to lose sight of what the results actually mean because we sometimes assume they’re going to be bad. Take a step back. Be honest with yourself. Maybe bring in an unbiased third party or neutral, unbiased method to evaluate your results. You may find your actions are misdirected or your desired results are wildly inaccurate — neither of which will ultimately lead you to business success.
A key to fueling the momentum in a success cycle is not quitting when things get hard. Never forget: The key to success in business is to keep going and continue to celebrate the victories, no matter how trivial they may seem in the moment. Rather than wait to reward yourself after you’ve lost 45 pounds and completed the Hawaii Ironman race, acknowledge your smaller wins along the way.
Set yourself up to win. This is what creates momentum. We build on success, not failure. And when your goal is about something greater than yourself, there’s a level of grit inside you that can make the impossible possible with a bit of momentum.
Tony Robbins is one of the world’s leading life and business strategists and ranked No. 1 on Real Leaders Top 50 Keynote Speakers list for 2023. This article is the debut of his regular column in Real Leaders.