It was midway through the first game of the sectional girls volleyball championship and I could already tell you who would win the match. My prediction had nothing to do with talent or depth or size or strategy. It had to do with one thing — body language.
You can mask a great number of perceived shortcomings but it’s difficult to hide your attitude. Particularly when you’re in high school and you wear your emotional life on your sleeve.
Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t the display of emotions that was the problem, it was what that display indicated for the one team. Their body language loudly conveyed doubt, disappointment and frustration. A bad play was followed by a visual reaction of personal disgust, of the player mentally beating herself up for the mistake.
Perhaps it was no surprise then when a string of good plays by this team failed to result in any true momentum switch. The players simply could not take good things and create something bigger, something lasting.
Welcome to the seemingly elusive world of momentum.
There are times when we feel things are on a roll. They’re clicking. They’re falling into place. Sometimes it’s in one area of our life — perhaps our athletic pursuit, or career, or a project, or a relationship. Sometimes it seems as if the stars are aligned and everything is working.
If you’re anything like me, you’re also sometimes skeptical of momentum.
First, it’s the feeling that when things are going well, well, that must mean something bad is around the corner. And the better things are going, the bigger the unknown, pending disaster that’s coming. Exactly who made that storyline up? And why did I believe it?
My new motto: I don’t buy it. Easier spouted off some days than thoroughly lived, but mantras are useful to bring us back to the place we want to be after we’ve wandered off into gremlin-land.
Second, I start to worry about losing momentum. It seems to appear mysteriously, as a gift from the universe, and as difficult to hold on to as grains of sand. I run out of steam. I start projects and don’t finish them. I slip away from my heathy eating/healthy living core beliefs.
But what I’m learning about momentum is that it can be misplaced, but never fully lost. It shrinks and hides in the damaging light of judgement. When we ease back into ourselves, when we take the first steps to create what we want, momentum starts to reappear.
The frustration so evident in those volleyball players didn’t come from lack of effort. It came from the attitude of striving and stressing to find, harness and keep momentum.
While momentum means movement with force or speed, it doesn’t have to be frantic. Some of the most powerful moments in our lives are subtle and relaxed. Instead, as blogger Katie Tallo noted, momentum can be a wave which carries you from one success to another.
It’s not about trying to get to the finish line. It’s about playing each point, running each mile, doing each action item on your project list and letting those so-called small success carry you forward.
The little things add up into something magnificent if we’re patient. That’s the hidden force behind momentum.