Here’s an excerpt from Jim Collins’ book Good to Great that we love…
Picture a huge, heavy flywheel—a massive metal disk mounted horizontally on an axle, about 30 feet in diameter, 2 feet thick, and weighing about 5,000 pounds. Now imagine that your task is to get the flywheel rotating on the axle as fast and long as possible. Pushing with great effort, you get the flywheel to inch forward, moving almost imperceptibly at first. You keep pushing and, after two or three hours of persistent effort, you get the flywheel to complete one entire turn. You keep pushing, and the flywheel begins to move a bit faster, and with continued great effort, you move it around a second rotation. You keep pushing in a consistent direction. Three turns … four … five … six … the flywheel builds up speed … seven … eight … you keep pushing … nine … ten … it builds momentum … eleven … twelve … moving faster with each turn … twenty … thirty … fifty … a hundred.
Then, at some point—breakthrough! The momentum of the thing kicks in in your favor, hurling the flywheel forward, turn after turn … whoosh! … its own heavy weight working for you. You’re pushing no harder than during the first rotation, but the flywheel goes faster and faster. Each turn of the flywheel builds upon work done earlier, compounding your investment of effort. A thousand times faster, then ten thousand, then a hundred thousand. The huge heavy disk flies forward, with almost unstoppable momentum.
Jaime Taets shared this book with us early in our coaching journey, and this concept has stuck with us ever since. Put simply, momentum is the result of consistent effort. When we do the little things, and often the hard things, over and over again, we create breakthroughs.
We can rarely look back and say that this one thing we did created the breakthrough. Collins puts it this way, “Now suppose someone came along and asked, ‘What was the one big push that caused this thing to go so fast?’ You wouldn’t be able to answer; it’s just a nonsensical question. Was it the first push? The second? The fifth? The hundredth? No! It was all of them added together in an overall accumulation of effort applied in a consistent direction.”
With that in mind, reflect on the breakthroughs and momentum you created in 2023. What things did you do consistently that created those wins? And, as you’re looking out into 2024, start to define those things you will do consistently in the new year that will create new momentum and breakthroughs.
The things we want and the goals we want to achieve are on the other side of consistency. That said, the only way to create that momentum and those breakthroughs is to show up every day and do the work. Commit to that in 2024, and let’s reconnect next December to share what we created.
Happy New Year!