The Gold List

A weekly letter on Marketing and Influence
From David Sherry
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The Truth About Motivation and Momentum

One thing I get as common questions from readers is how to build or maintain momentum. It seems that every time we start on a new path, our excitement wanes.


Or maybe we made some quick progress and got great feedback but now we're looking for the second wave?

Regardless, I believe there is a distinction to make between just "work" and "work with momentum."

There's a visceral feeling that is different when you feel like you are working with motivation. Whereas you could be at "work" and "working..." these are not the same type of focused progress which leads to the biggest growth in our projects or careers. 


Finding that sweet spot of motivation is like feeling your own center of gravity, things simply come together faster, and your eyes stay so focused that you don't keep them off the prize until you reach it. 

It's at this point, reaching some "prize" that we get into trouble, and lose speed while in the air. 

This is often blamed on burnout. Or it's blamed on thinking we're no longer interested. Or it's blamed on superstition.

And so the way we respond to this problem is with those explanations in mind.

We use self-care, or stimulants. 

We take a vacation or we question whether or not we're truly interested.

I do not believe that any of these are effective approaches to this dilema. In fact I believe that these are band-aid fixes for after-the-fact problems which have an entirely different source and solution.

What is the source of losing motivation...?

Losing the emotional risks which progressed your project. 

Losing vulnerability. 

When we take an emotional risk, when we put ourselves on the line, when we "launch" something new this gives us a rush of energy which focuses our attention and keeps us solidly in the drivers seat. 

After this launch occurs. We get out of the car, and then stare at it hoping it will drive.

And, pardon this sub-optimal metaphor, but what is it that steps on the gas pedal of the car? What is it that gives it the ignition and gas?

Risk, vulnerability, and doing something that might not work. 


When we lose motivation, we lose the "Edge" of our project. 

We settle into routine.

We keep in the groove that we've already developed.

But to push the edge, to develop the new groove... That is motivation.

Why is it that Alexander Hannold did a Free Solo of the El Capitan cliff face when he could have died?

It's simple.

Alexander has already climbed all of the other mountains.

And to continue to do so would be to sit in the same groove. 

This same groove is not motivating. 

This same groove is soul crushing because it is not at the edge. It is the creative version of death.

And so to find and gain new speed, motivation and momentum…

We must take a risk.

We must put ourselves in focus by way of attempting a new personal edge.

We must stretch to find the ability that we have today, and then look forward to the ability we will have tomorrow.

In this way, we can continue motivation and momentum. 

Kickstart it when it falls.

And find a new groove and energy to pursue it. 


This is how we maintain momentum and motivation.

March 29, 2019
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