Tapping Potential Key to Building Momentum

‘tis the Season of Momentum.

It’s everywhere you look and listen. Especially on weekends when the airwaves are overrun with coverage of college and professional sports. Coaches and Announcers alike laud the importance of “building momentum”, whether it applies to the game they’re in or preparing for the next.

In the world of Professional Everything Else, the end of the current calendar year marks a time for generating enthusiasm and transitioning energy for the next year. No one wants to stumble out of the gate and start the year flat-footed. Everyone from CEOs to SBOs touts “building momentum” as critical to setting the tone and pace for a successful run.

Personal Development Planning is an often over-looked, yet potentially powerful resource to help us generate momentum, and achieve both personal and professional success.

A well designed and executed Personal Development Plan (PDP) represents the process of you working on you.

Driven through intention, a PDP explores what is possible when second-nature, instinctive ability is combined with inherent, unbridled desire. You have found something you love, and you’re doing it. Doing it well, or better, can unleash an amazingly high level of execution, even without the promise of material recognition or reward.

So, enjoy the process of working on yourself. But get started . . . the clock is ticking, and we want to “build momentum” heading into the New year.

Define Momentum 

Exactly what is Momentum?

I’d love to provide a succinct, scientific breakdown filled with complicated symbols and equations, but the ability to do so was left out of my original genetic instructions.

In fact, my personal reaction to passing Physics II at the Coast Guard Academy mirrored Tommy Boy’s reaction to passing History 201 at Marquette . . . with a D+:

“Oh-my-god . . . I passed. I passed. I’m going to graduate!”

Having kicked traditional formulas to the curb, our more pragmatic approach will continue to recognize that:

  1. Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be stored or transferred.
  2. Energy in motion is kinetic, energy at rest is potential.

Two insights will accompany our transition from the Physical Sciences to Human Science.

The first kind of shoots down the saying “My team has no energy.” People have a constant supply of energy. The question is whether they are putting it to use, or not.

A second insight highlights the essence of momentum. Our model represents a willingness, the attitude of the person or persons involved, and their ability to perform. As individuals begin to believe in themselves, they begin to believe in each other.

With the capacity to convert potential into performance, this collective energy is contagious, powerful enough to extend beyond your team, to customers, clients, or raving fans.

Lesson 101: We were watching a football game (American Football) recently, and one team was losing by multiple scores. Seconds away from halftime they managed a Field Goal. While that put them three points closer, they were still losing by multiple scores.

Right on cue, the announcer declared, “That should give them momentum heading into the Second Half.”

He was right. A small amount of success, while insignificant to some, was enough to shift the mental approach . . . the attitude . . . of that team. The same players, with the same abilities, began to execute with improved vigor. Even through the television, you sensed a renewed belief in themselves.

Each subsequent score tapped into reserve energy, generating greater confidence, and improved performance. Momentum had shifted, the force was on their side. When time expired, victory was theirs.

What was the driving force, what transitioned potential into performance?

Only the players know what made the difference. Most likely it was that measure of success, a kick through the uprights triggering a realization they could do more. Instead of just playing, they began performing to their potential.

It all begins with the willingness of one.

Make It Personal

Character, development, and behavior are the focus of Infinity Point Leadership, a more organic approach that affects performance from a root cause . . . if it stands that you can only see an error by its manifest signs, then the reverse must also be true.

A PDP that appeals to one’s values, to an overall sense of pride in their level of performance and achievement, translates into a deeper connection to the purpose behind growth or change.

Which means it’s time to get Personal and embrace the “3 Ps of Personal Development Planning”:

Perspective: How do others see me?

A robust PDP will begin by establishing a general perspective on where you are at this moment in time. This realistic assessment of skills and development needs is a critical step in pursuit of your ultimate goals.

Perspective may be provided through Performance Reviews, one-on-one feedback from a coach or mentor. Other methods include diagnostic tools such as a Myers-Briggs Assessment, ARGOS 360, Disc Assessment, etc.

Place: What’s changing in my workplace?

Ours is an ever-changing world providing endless opportunities to learn and grow. We must consider the environment in which we operate to keep pace with changes to societal or industry knowledge.

Having dreams and intentions are important. Knowing how to structure those to maximize impact is what makes for a high-quality PDP.

Possibilities: What are my options?

Explore the possibilities by aligning strong development options with our agreed to goals and desires. There are any number of activities that will expose you to something new and different. Applying these as experiential action steps will ensure that our personal development compass is pointing its proper Due North.

Vital Behaviors

Determining Vital Behaviors begins with a question:

What aspect of your Personal Performance, if strengthened or improved, will most directly influence your Professional Results or influence the behaviors of others?

This is a question that asks easy, but sometimes answers hard. Many people struggle separating a Business Goal from a Personal Goal.

A Business Goal is the result, or score, or whatever metric you apply to determine ultimate success. In our football example, the Business Goal would be to win the game. In the Service Industry, we would measure Customer Satisfaction or Approval Rating. From a Leadership perspective, we could measure Employee Engagement or Retention as performance criteria.

Personal Goals focus on Vital Behaviors, an element of your performance that will address your potential . . . energy or talent that is currently at rest. Enhancing this behavior, transferring it from rest to motion, will support improved performance.  

This improved performance will not only help you achieve Business Goals, it will prepare you for your next job or position, if that is what you desire.

Lesson 102: I love Sales and Marketing, an affection that extends to Sales and Marketing professionals. Although offered various positions over time, I never accepted a lateral move because of a self-perceived inability to “close the deal”.

After wining and dining a client, my preference would be a passive approach of “Well, its been fun. Let me know what you decide.” Doesn’t really match-up with aggressive benchmarks and hard deadlines.

If it was my desire to pursue a career in Sales, my PDP would then focus on behaviors that improved my abilities to close a relationship and produce a signed contract. Development options could include activities such as:

Attending a Critical Conversations program to improve communication skills at the point of impact

Shadowing a peer or mentor recognized as an expert in managing, then closing client relationships

Expanding my product or local area knowledge to improve awareness around the expectations of clients

You’ll notice an absence of numbers or percentages among these Personal Goals. Their intention is to generate results, build personal momentum, and keep you moving in a positive direction.

Four Steps

The PDP 4 Step is recommended as a preferred structure for creating, and then following through on your Personal Development Plan:

Step 1 What?Development Area  
Begin with a review of Strengths or Opportunities associated with performance competency areas. Select the most logical as it contributes to your overall measure of success of performance rating.  
Step 2 Why?Business Context  
Establish a shared motivation or reason for development. Articulate the benefit of change as either immediate or future-state depending on where you are in your career progression.  
Step 3 What?Development Objective  
Focus on the personal value, or what you, as an individual will be able to do better. Be specific – your Development Objective should be measurable, achievable, relevant and time framed.   Include Learning Words such as Strengthen, Improve, Develop, Enhance, Generate, Grow.  
Step 4 How?Actions  
How will I measure my results?   Actions outline steps that will expose you to activities necessary to pull through your Development Objective. These should begin with an assigned activity, and work through measurement of applied learning and techniques.  

There is no specific timeframe referenced within our 4 Step Model. Personal Development reflects the overarching need for improvement . . . some plans extend over several years, while some are meant to be accomplished within several weeks.

A Leader’s Guide

If leadership is defined as accomplishment through others, there is no better resource available than Personal Development.

Patience and evaluation are critical to achieving a deeper connection to the purpose behind growth or change. Commit to an investment in time, to foster a necessary appeal to values and desires. Remember that momentum is the product of a process or series of events. Each successful opportunity builds confidence in the next.

Promoting a measure of resilience capable of transferring attitude into energy requires the ability to lead from a development perspective and the agility to apply guidance and support only when needed.

Lesson 103: In our football example, success was measured on the playing field (strategic execution). The difference between winning and losing could be attributed to impactful decisions made and actions taken by the coaching staff at halftime. May have been a few critical conversations taking place in that locker room.   

Resilience on behalf of the players, the ability to recover functionality and redirect energy, was influenced through time and effort invested on the practice field (player development). That resilience acted like a spring coil, triggered by one small measure of success. The resulting change in attitude became a driving force, one that grew stronger and more dominant as the game progressed.

One final note relates to time . . . a sports team, theatre production, or musical company will set aside time for practice and development. This is an ensemble approach, with time to develop personal skills at a lessor premium than the overall group.

Organizations will have a varied approach to true Personal Development Planning, again, the art of working on one’s self. Some will mandate involvement, while others will simply ask “What are you doing to improve?”

Regardless, as a Leader or Coach, your efforts to encourage and support Personal Development from a holistic perspective will inspire the necessary investment. Begin with the appropriate questions, such as “What do you love doing?” or “What is something that you visualize yourself excelling in?”

Realize that passions convert potential into performance more than any workday routine. Begin with one person . . . build momentum . . . then celebrate success!

Thank you for investing your Tuesday with Tall Tim Talks!

SAVE THE DATE: We’ll be hosting a FREE Webinar on Thursday, January 14th, 2021 at 4:00pm EST. Registration information for The Fine Art of Personal Development Planning will be published here and on other social media outlets soon.

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