Leaders: 7 ways to maintain momentum

Starting his own cheese, wine and charcuterie shop had been a dream ever since his early college days in northern California.  His happiest career day was leaving his “big boy” accounting manager job to open his shop. Steve’s saddest day was hanging the “going out of business” sign on his shop door.

Steve froze, personally and professionally, doing nothing for several months except looking back, wondering what he could have done differently to save his dream. Steve believed he was a failure.  He wasn’t. He was simply failing at dealing with hitting one of life’s unexpected speed bumps.

Hitting those obstacles hurts, just like it did when you fell off a skateboard when you were eight years old. And, just like you did way back then, the key is picking yourself up and getting back in the game.  Work to see what happened to you as a “teachable moment” for exploring, growing and learning instead of allowing yourself to withdraw.

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” ~Albert Einstein

7 tips to keep the momentum going

If you are a leader and identify with Steve, use these seven tips to get and keep moving:

1) Find the lesson(s). Work with a trusted confidante to explore your thoughts and feelings about what happened. There’s something positive to be learned from nearly every situation. These learnings will make you better next time around.

“Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.” ~Bernice Johnson Reagon

2) Pursue understanding. Ignoring what happened or looking to find fault won’t make the situation go away or change the outcome. Focus instead on what you do well and look for opportunities where you can apply your strengths.

“The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.” ~Carlos Castaneda

3) Seek self-awareness. Take a long hard look at your reactions so you can better understand your motivation. Connect to what makes you tick and use that wisdom to connect with others. Determine if your strengths have been over-used to the point of becoming weaknesses.

“Most of the shadows of life are caused by standing in our own sunshine.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

4) Take wise risks. Expand your comfort zone - that’s where life and learning really begins. Learn and grow by trying something new. Expect bumps, bruises and failures along the way.

“There’s only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.” ~Aldous Huxley

5) Build bridges to the future; don’t burn those to the past. You never know when a past boss or colleague may become a future boss or hold the key to a job or assignment you want, so maintain constructive relationships.

“He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help.” ~Abraham Lincoln

6) Remain optimistic. After analysis, park and move on from those “what if” thoughts or “maybe I should have” worries. Saying I should have, I could have, I wish I did is living your life in the rear view mirror — all looking back and no forward movement.

“The difference between can and cannot is only three letters. Three letters that can shape your life’s direction.” ~Remez Sasson

7) Always keep moving. Volunteer, take a class, connect, share, work out, be a mentor, network, read, write, love, laugh, learn. Use the past as a springboard for energetically moving on.

“Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation.” ~Brian Tracy

The next time you’re cruising down the highway and see the road sign that reads “keep moving, change lanes later” – smile and follow the good advice.