ROAD RULES by The Rev. Anthony Payton
Dr. John Maxwell once remarked, “Momentum is really a leader’s best friend. Sometimes it’s the only difference between winning and losing.” Every leader and I would agree with his assessment. However, as friendly as momentum may be, it’s not a friend that sticks. There are those seasons in every leader’s—and frankly, every person’s—life, when this friend seems to disappear. Lose of this trusted friend can have dramatic effects upon the best of use psychologically.
Why? I believe that many of us forget that while momentum is a fascinating friend and force, it is equally a fragile one. In the absence of positive momentum, the destructive nature of negative momentum takes over. As such, if we are not careful, the lack of positive momentum—at lest as we view it, can cause the best of us to give up!
Simon Hartley, a freelance sport psychologist and performance coach at Be World Class, states the following:
“For coaches, athletes and applied sport psychologists, there are some obvious questions. What actually changes when psychological momentum shifts? How are changes initiated? What can we do to swing the momentum in our favor?”
Simon continues by saying:
“From my experience working with athletes, it is clear that for many of them, loss of psychological momentum coincides with loss of focus.”
There it is. Loss of focus! The “Trojan Horse” of everyone’s destiny is loss of focus. The Achilles heel of our dreams. It was Seneca who said, “If a man does not know to what port he is steering, no wind is favorable to him.” The question for each of is one of focus. Momentum and focus are two sides of the same coin! Without these two, we are like The Family Stone without Sly, the Jacksons without Michael and the Beatles without John. The music is there, but it’s not the same.
One of the chief reasons for the loss of focus and momentum is drama. When our dreams and destiny attracts drama we can loss our focus and momentum! Like Mary J. Blige, we cry aloud:
So tired, tired of this drama
No more, no more
I wanna be free
I’m so tired, so tired
Broken heart again
Another lesson learned
Better know your friends
Or else you will get burned
Gotta count on me
Cause I can guarantee
That I’ll be fine
No more pain (no more pain)
No more pain (no more pain)
No drama (no more drama in my life)
No one’s gonna make me hurt again
However, none of our stories can be told without the drama. We honor those that made it in the face of drama and not those that made it in the absence of it. The more dramatic the “slough of despond,” the more celebrated are those that climbed out of it. The story is told that Andrew Jackson’s boyhood friends just couldn’t understand how he became a famous general and then the President of the United States. They knew of other men who had greater talent but who never succeeded. One of Jackson’s friends said, “Why, Jim Brown, who lived right down the pike from Jackson, was not only smarter but he could throw Andy three times out of four in a wrestling match. But, look where Andy is now.” Another friend responded, “How did there happen to be a fourth time? Didn’t they usually say three times and out?” “Sure, they were supposed to, but not Andy. He would never admit he was beat—he would never stay ‘throwed.’ Jim Brown would get tired, and on the fourth try Andrew Jackson would throw him and be the winner.”
Picking up on that idea, someone has said, “The thing that counts is not how many times you are ‘throwed,’ but whether you are willing to stay ‘throwed.’” Yes, drama comes and it threatens our focus and momentum, but we must decide that we are not going to stay down! And, through the power of the Holy Spirit we will eventual become the victor!
The battle is the Lord’s, so there is no excuse for us to stay “throwed”! Get your focus back and your momentum will show up with it!
The Rev. Anthony Payton is pastor of Come As You Are Community Church in Fort Wayne.
This article originally appeared in the Aug. 21 print edition.