Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Momentum Part I - Five things to move every day

I just read an article called The Art of Momentum: Why Your Ideas Need Speed. It recounts the story of a musician who suffered brain trauma that almost eliminated his short-term memory. But, for some reason, if he begin to play a piano piece, it was like it returned.

As long as his fingers and his mind were in motion, he could play beautifully. Clive’s wife writes, “The momentum of the music carried Clive from bar to bar… He knew exactly where he was because in every phrase there is context implied, by rhythm, key, melody… When the music stopped, Clive fell through to the lost place. But for those moments he was playing he seemed normal.”

I'd been thinking about along similar lines tonight as I was looking over what I had to work on before bed. There are a variety of projects and tasks that need to be moved forward, and each one seems to be in danger of grinding to a halt if I don't move it forward. Not just halting in reality, but in my mind. It seems to be more and more true: if I stay in motion, it's very easy to stay in motion. But when time goes by and the momentum has been lost, it's very hard to get back. Perhaps brain trauma only exaggerates what is already true of us!

The article offers three suggestions to generate momentum, the third one of "work on your project every day" striking me as key. Perhaps we are all inertial beings, but I feel especially so. I have a difficult time stopping once I get started, but an even more difficult time restarting once I've stopped. Accordingly, which project or projects need work every day in order for me to generate, and preserve, momentum?

1. Time with the Lord: I've seen time and again that stringing a few days together generates momentum in my devotional life, and stringing several weeks together brings a freedom and vitality that makes walking in the Spirit a whole lot easier. Miss a few days? Suddenly it's been a couple weeks and I wonder why I feel disconnected from God.

2. Exercise: The more I run, the more I want to run. The more I get to the gym, the more I want to keep pushing ahead and go harder. There were days in college when I was training for road races where to miss a day was an actual fear. I knew that if I missed one, it would be easy to miss another.

3. Support: For my ten years on staff, raising support to fund my/our ministry has been done in bursts that have varying levels of fruitfulness. Ramping up to think about raising support takes time, and often times when the momentum was finally coming, it was time to get back to campus. Is this the right paradigm for me? Could it be that working every day, whether for 5 minutes or a couple hours, might be the better approach?

4. Work (whatever is the most challenging project of the moment): Right now, for me it might just be getting our office reorganization done. We're going from 9 full-time (and several other part-time) to 17 full-time with even more part-times. Making minor changes would be safe and easy, but ultimately would miss the opportunity to capture the momentum of a new year, new people, and new hope. More on that in my next post...

5. This blog: It so quickly goes from "I have too many ideas to get down" to "where do I even think about restarting? None of these post ideas seem like the right one to restart with." Thus, today's post!

Does that seem like to much to think about every day? Maybe. But as the article points out, it is not the duration of time that we give each project, but the frequency. Five minutes every day just might be better than trying to do two hours every other week. Keep pushing things forward and don't allow them to come to a stop.

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