How To Control Momentum

Momentum shifts are a common phenomenon, not just in sport, but in life. They are often easy to see in sport. You’ll often see momentum swing when a player, or a team, accumulates a string of points in quick succession. Those famous sporting come-backs often hinge around a shift in momentum; like when Oracle Team USA came back from 1-8 down, to beat Emirates Team New Zealand 9-8 in the 2013 America’s Cup.

We experience the same phenomenon in life. There are times when we feel like we’re “on a roll”. Sales people often describe that when they’re selling, they just keep on selling. Athletes and sports teams find themselves in a rich vein of form where they just keep winning. Equally, there are times when we feel like we’re stumbling from one mess to the next. Sales people can’t seem to conjure a sale from anywhere and athletes can’t even win an argument, never-mind a competition.

Most people don’t control, or engineer the momentum… it just kind of happens to them. If things are going great, they’re likely to keep going well. However, when things aren’t going well, they just seem to get worse. It’s not difficult to see the pattern. If a Sales Executive is making sales, they’re confident, so they perform well, and therefore make another sale. It’s the same pattern for athletes who are winning. Their victories can fuel their confidence, which helps them perform well and win again.

Of course, the opposite could also be true!

What do we do if we’re not winning, or making the sale? How can we engineer momentum so that we swing it in our favour? How could we turn around a performance if we’re losing, and make a come-back?

Fortunately, controlling momentum is relatively simple, when you understand the mechanics. Here’s how it works.

Something happens…

which impacts on how we think and feel…

which informs what we do…

which influences what happens next. 

This little sandwich keep rolling from one event to the next, time after time. Of course, we don’t have complete control over what happens. However, we can choose how we respond; how we think & feel. We also control what we then do; our processes and our performance. This then has a real influence on what happens next. So, if we want to control the momentum, we need to control our mental game (how we think & feel) and our performance (our focus, our decision making and how well we execute the processes).

There’s also a compound effect. Momentum creeps, it doesn’t leap. Research into catastrophic events show that they don’t tend to happen suddenly (although that’s what we tend to believe). Instead, they grow from tiny “insignificant” events. Little things become bigger things. I am a great believer that the little things ARE the big things. If we want to control the momentum, we need to look after the little things and make sure we do them well. If you want to understand the flow of momentum, don’t look at the results or the outcomes. The momentum will have already swung quite a long way by the time it becomes a result. Instead, look at the processes. When the little things start to get overlooked, the momentum is starting to swing away. When we’re truly invested in looking after the little things, we start the swing back towards us.

The key to engineering momentum is simple.


The little things ARE the big things!!