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Momentum…How to get it and how to keep it!

By Andrea Burkholder


It’s weird how the mind works isn’t it?

How memories are triggered by an object, a smell or maybe just how the weather is on a specific day?

Well, that’s what happened to me today.

I noticed the sky turning brighter and those gray puffy clouds receding.  Knowing that the dogs would be happy that they could finally go outside, I opened the door, smelled the fresh rain, saw a rainbow, when a memory just struck me.

The memory was clear, I was at a Tire Shop in Raytown, a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri, when a distinctly midwestern, beginning of fall, rain shower came thru the city. As the brightness of the sun began to show through the window, I stepped outside to take a look at the sparkle from resting rain drops and to smell the wonderfully clean aroma left behind by the rain shower.

As I stepped outside, directly across the street to my surprise, the end of a rainbow had encapsulated the local donut shop! I thought, WOW! I had been searching for the end of the rainbow for 27 years.  Literally, 27 years and there it was, right in front of me, wrapped around a donut shop! I had always thought that there was a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but I guess, as it turns out, there’s golden donuts!

For many business owners, gaining momentum is as elusive as finding that pot of gold (or golden donuts) at the end of the rainbow. It’s something we are always searching for and while we may at times rapidly gain momentum, we can lose it as quickly as we found it.

Sound familiar? The never-ending search? Either not gaining momentum or quickly gaining it and then losing it as fast as you gained it…

Maybe you’ve had a sales agent that just couldn’t get going or got going and would then subside. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. It’s happened to the best of us.

Some of the best advice I ever got was from my former Director of Sales, Craig Johnson. I was working ridiculously hard. I had been assigned several high potential employees that weren’t hitting their numbers. All I wanted to do was help them achieve the success I knew they were capable of. They could have been rock stars!  The problem was, I was working harder than they were. What I didn’t know was that Craig had been observing me. One day, in Craig’s superhero fashion, he walked up, put his hand on my shoulder and whispered, “You can’t care more than they do…. you have to match their efforts.” I thought to myself, WOW! He was right! I found his advice extremely profound. That same advice has saved me a lot of heartache over the years.

So how do you get employees, the ones who care, to start performing, to gain long term momentum?

The answer may not be as elusive as you think…

John Maxwell, one of my favorite leadership experts, says, “Self-discipline is the bridge between good intentions and good actions.”

You may have had new employees ask what’s the quickest and easiest way for them to succeed, to be wealthy, to be influential or just wanting to be uber successful in life.

To begin with there are two types of success. One is the fleeting short-term success, the other is sustained long term success. Let me be clear, there is no such thing as easy, the battle for long term success is up hill all the way. Self-discipline is the vehicle that gets you there…it’s the key to gaining and keeping momentum.

So, when that employee, with all the potential in the world, has no self-discipline and all they are interested in is the easy way to success approaches you, remember this…. There is nothing you can do for an undisciplined person to help them be successful. You will do nothing but wear yourself out. The quicker you understand that, the quicker your results will grow.

You see, at the call center, I was focusing 80% of my efforts on the 80% that really didn’t have the desire or self-discipline to succeed. They weren’t consistently bridging to the sale, watching their talk time, overcoming resistance or coming to work on time. Many of them just didn’t care….

While you can provide these employees advice on the value of self-discipline, you would be better off to focus the majority of your efforts on helping the 20% who are self-disciplined, who care, who don’t mind rolling up their sleeves and getting dirty, regardless of their ability.  Remember…the key to long term success is to match their level of effort.

Over the years, I have learned that most employees get in their own way and need to be taught how to get out of their own way in order to succeed. It usually starts when they begin counting. Many new employees would start thinking to themselves, I’ve talked to 5 customers and didn’t get anywhere, I’m not being successful, and before you know it, they quit trying. Mentally, they had gotten so far in their own way they could only see and believe they were nothing but a failure, they just gave up and punched the clock doing only the minimum because they were convinced if they actually tried, it would only result in them failing again. That’s because learned helplessness had set in. You have to be able to forgive yourself and just move on. Pivot, pivot, pivot.

Self-discipline is the difference between temporary success and sustained success. The fact is, that the road to long term success is all uphill…you don’t get flat land and you don’t get downhill land. The faster you can help new employees understand that, the faster they will succeed. It’s okay to count but wait until you have the process down and the habits established. At that point, counting can help you refine your employee’s skill set. At that point, you aren’t taking away the action, you are just tweaking how it’s done.

To be successful, new employees just need to do the action, be consistent, and over time, they will gain momentum.  Knock the door, talk to the incoming customer, move the brick…. whatever the task is, they just need to do it. For instance, a new employee selling door-to door, just needs to follow their training, say what you’ve trained them to say to EVERY customer, regardless of the customers appearance, the car they drive or the type of house they live in. The object is to get them comfortable talking to every customer. After that has been achieved, then you help them refine what they are saying. Eventually they will make it their own, find their niche and drive their sales to where they need to be with confidence. That is sustainable success.

Look around your business, I’m guessing you will see what I saw…. your highest performers are the ones that just do it…. they don’t over think it. They had the self-discipline early on to do what was taught and refined themselves over time, or they came trained that way.

As leaders, that’s where we come in. Those leaders who exhibit true leadership, help their employees understand that momentum can only continue when we have the self-discipline to keep it in action.

Consistency allows every day to count and every day to compound – you never know how good your going to be until you do it every day to see how good you can be…. self-discipline is the trick.

So How Do You Use Self-Discipline to Grow and Maintain Your Companies Momentum?

Author, Deep Patel of Entrepreneur states that there are 10 proven ways for gaining self-discipline:

  1. Know your weaknesses
  2. Remove Temptations
  3. Set Clear goals and have an execution plan
  4. Build your self-discipline
  5. Create new habits by keeping it simple
  6. Eat often and healthy
  7. Change your perception about willpower
  8. Give yourself a backup plan
  9. Reward yourself
  10. Forgive yourself and move forward


Self-discipline makes consistency possible and consistency compounds – it is the prerequisite to excellence.

So, here’s the recipe:

  1. Stir together your desire to succeed in business, know your weaknesses and remove temptations.
  2. Add in the knowledge you have about your employees and their desires to succeed, their weaknesses and remove temptations where you can
  3. Drop in Clear set goals for you and your team, then execute your plan.
  4. Cover yourself by building self-discipline powers and simmer in new habits while keeping it simple.
  5. Let perceptions about willpower change along the way so you and your team can surpass your self-inflicted limits and never place a limit on your self-control.
  6. If attempts at success fall short, fold in a backup plan, forgive yourself and move forward.
  7. Sprinkle Rewards on yourself and mix in eating often and healthy.

Remember, you can’t care more than they do. Self-discipline is the bridge between good intentions and good actions. The battle for long term success is up hill all the way. Self-discipline is the vehicle that gets you there. Leaders help their employees understand this.

Enjoy your Golden Donuts at the end of your Rainbow!


This article originally posted by Oomph Consulting Group on our blog

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by 382,000+ people.



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