“Momentum is the art of moving forward, harnessing the energy that creates the unstoppable force to take charge of your life through the recognition of your goals; a rare freedom created by pushing through the storms of life untamed by desperation and confident in truth.” – Robert Anthony Olszak
When you were in high school or college you most likely took a class where the professor or teacher said on the first day of class that you would be graded on a curve. What does this mean? The Bell Curve is a grading practice that predetermines what percentage of students will receive an A, B, C, D, and F. It departs from the standard grading practice where you are awarded the grade best reflective of the work you turned in during the course term. In a way, it is intended to level the playing field but also encourage students to compete for grades.
Here is an example: you are in a class with 20 students. The top 10% will receive an A, the next 20% will receive a B and so on and so forth. In this scenario, 2 students out of 20 will receive an A. If you want to be one of these two students than you have to do the work. Otherwise, you may end up in the lower 20% — the next group of 4 – who will receive a B. The Bell Curve is an interesting paradigm where the average of the final grades determines the Top 10%.
The Momentum Curve works in a similar way. Instead of averaging the final results to determine your placement on the curve it creates a model for competing in the real world where you can work to earn your spot in the Top 10%. It is open to anyone. Working your way to the end of the curve is not has hard as staying there. This is the power of momentum.
Here is how the model works:
Let’s look at this the progression through this model in terms of gaining financial wealth. In the beginning, at the frontend of the curve, you take a job that pays $40,000 annually. You are being paid based upon your academic credentials void of any real world value. Recognizing that you must invest in yourself to increase your value you begin reading books, attending seminars, learning from peers – acquiring as much knowledge as you possibly can. Over time you the knowledge gained increases your market value by producing results.
A year later you receive your first performance review. Your boss gives you a glowing review with a sizeable increase in base pay. Now you are making $50,000 annually. Motivated by the recognition of your hard work and increased earnings you work harder. You become a student of your profession seizing every opportunity to expand your experience. But that’s not enough to quench your motivation. No longer do you sit back and wait for opportunities to arise; you actively create them – taking the initiative to take on new projects. Suddenly, others are now taking notice of your potential.
Another year goes by and you receive a promotion to department head. A mid-level management position that carries with in another pay increase. You’re on the move, making things happen – optimal growth aligned with incremental growth in salary. In the same year, you successfully complete a project that saves the company a half-million dollars. In recognition of your fiscal stewardship you receive stock options. Your net worth has now doubled.
No longer are you living paycheck to paycheck fending off creditors. Disposable income provides the ability to travel, purchase a new car, and live comfortably. At this point, you have advanced pass the point of survival and are steadily approaching the top of the momentum curve.
Five years into your career, marked by one personal success after another, your hard work is paying dividends. In the process you have expanded your knowledge, refined your skillsets, mastered necessary aptitudes, maximized strengths and improved upon weaknesses. Your personal equity stock as gone up in the eyes of the company in direct proportion to the value you provide within your role and responsibilities. Another promotion, another pay increase. Now you have climbed your way to the top of the Momentum Curve.
This is the tricky part. Some people never get past this point. You are exhausted from working so hard, pulling long hours to get to where you are. You pause with a sigh of relief. “I deserve to enjoy the fruits of my labor,” you say to yourself. Those dreadful words that take the bait of the small cheese in the mousetrap. Snap! You’re caught. The temporary sigh of relief becomes one year after another of doing just enough to stay perched atop the curve.
The same effort that helped you to climb from nothing is be expended to just avoid backsliding. Time your worst enemy. This is the Complacency Trap. And you are stuck in the middle of it. No longer are you reading books, listening to webinars, learning from colleagues or attending seminars. Even the initiative for creating opportunities is dead. Simply, you take what is given to you and do just enough to maintain. Sure the quality of work is still there but what’s not there is the ambitious drive that fueled your prior eagerness to make something of yourself.
Let’s examine the alternative approach that prevents being stuck in the Complacency Trap. Upward mobility positions you in an upper-level management job. You are now making a handsome six-figure salary, with stock options, and a comprehensive compensation package. But this is not enough. In fact, you only see this as the beginning instead of the half-way point. No pause to relish in your accomplishments. No riding on the coattails of your earlier success. You push forward with ardent determination.
Over the next two years you spend time learning the ropes, building relationships, creating networking opportunities, proving yourself, leading your team and throughout it all continuously reinvesting in yourself. You enlist the help of a mentor to increase your marketable skills as well as groom your emotional and relational intelligence. Hard work is not an axiom but a force multiplier that generates confidence. Understanding your own self-worth, you seek out other career opportunities. Connect with a headhunter who helps you land an executive level position with a Fortune 500 company.
Now you are on the downward end of the curve, tapping into the Top 20%. But you don’t stop there. You diversify your former stock options creating a robust wealth management portfolio. You save more than you spend. Learning never stops – the acquisition of knowledge remains congruent to the acquisition of wealth.
Let’s skip ahead and now you are 35. Fifteen years after you started your climb up and through the Momentum Curve. You have not only built momentum but learned to sustain it. Never losing the positive energy in your life. With careful planning you parlay your knowledge and experience into creating a successful start-up company. At age 36 you gross your first million dollars. With financial resources you begin putting your money to work for you. In the years that follow you grow your net worth to over 4.5 million. Now you are sitting comfortably in the coveted 10% all because you didn’t allow yourself to get stuck in the Complacency Trap. The upward momentum to the top of the curve carried forward to increased momentum on the downward slope which sustained your personal success.
The tragic fates that befalls most in this model is that they do the work to get to the top of the curve but as quickly as they rose they fall. The rest of their lives becomes a series of starts and stops trying to reposition themselves atop the curve. Doing what others fear they can’t is the game changer in the journey through the Momentum Curve.
Copyright 2015, all rights reserved to Grace Covenant Consulting and Balcony 7 Media and Publishing
The excerpt in this article in taken from the upcoming book written by Robert Anthony Olszak entitled Too Big To Fail