Byron's Babbles

Big Momentum

Civil Rights Blog LBJ

Lyndon B. Johnson – President Signs Civil Rights Bill/George Tames/1964/ National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution/Gift of Frances O. Tames/© George Tames; The New York Times

Successful sports teams in the 1960s were said to have “The Big Mo” on their side. The term refers to momentum. Since then it has come to describe lots of things, including politics, business, schools, et cetera. When we have momentum, we don’t worry about small problems, and larger problems seem to work themselves out.

img_9250It is said, “Momentum is truly a cruel mistress. She always seeks out inertia.” Robert Caro made reference to this in The Passage of Power, in reference to the first days, weeks, and months of the Johnson Presidency. Johnson was masterful in making use of the momentum that was gained when he first took office. He was particularly effective using momentum as a lever as it related to get the civil rights and tax cut bills of 1964 passed. The momentum that occurs when something new is starting is awesome. Caro did not talk about it in the book, but I believe that momentum changed people’s perspective of President Johnson, and they forgot about mistakes and looked past his shortcomings. We need to consider that momentum probably makes us look better than we are.

When we have big momentum the purpose and goals are clear. The expedition is going smoothly and this makes it easier to enthusiastically complete initiatives. When you have no momentum, the simplest tasks seem impossible, morale becomes low, and the future appears dark. On the other hand, when you have momentum, the future looks bright, obstacles appear small, and employee engagement is high.

As leaders it is our responsibility to create momentum. Momentum begins with each of us. If we are not focused on our own or organization’s vision, working to motivate our stakeholders, and maintaining the right attitude, we are limiting our organization’s potential.



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