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The Power of Momentum by Doug Kelley

The Law of Momentum By Doug Kelley

When you are down, the universe works to keep you down.

When you are up, the universe works to keep you up.

BACK on July 20, 1969, I remember watching Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walk on the moon for the first time in history. It was broadcast live to the world on television. I was only 10 years old then, but it fascinated me, and filled my imagination with exciting possibilities. It was truly an amazing accomplishment for humankind. I have always marveled at the power necessary to lift such a huge rocket into space.

Twelve years later, the first Shuttle was launched in the early morning of April 12, 1981, which I also watched on live television. As Columbia lifted off, I was again amazed at the power involved to overcome earth's gravity and send it into orbit.

It is interesting to compare the power necessary to lift a rocket into orbit, with that of lifting ourselves into the orbit of success in life. With this in mind, let's examine and compare the two, and note the lessons contained therein.

Facts and Lessons on Momentum
1) Inertia. For the Shuttle to leave the ground, it must overcome inertia. Sir Isaac Newton's first law of motion describes inertia. It states that a body at rest tends to remain at rest, and a body in motion tends to keep moving at the same speed and in a straight line. In order to move a resting body or to stop a moving body, an external action called a "force," is required. The tendency of a body to remain at rest or, once moving, to remain in motion is inertia. The inertia of a body is related to its mass. Bodies that are more massive possess greater inertia than bodies with less mass.

In order to achieve the necessary momentum, the Space Shuttle, weighing over 4.5 million pounds at lift-off, must develop about seven million pounds of thrust. This makes sense, because according to Newton's law, the more mass that is involved, the more force is required to move it.

Lesson: In our lives, we also must overcome inertia in order to achieve success. It will quite likely require unusual effort in the beginning to launch our dream, but there is no way around this fact. If our dream is owning our own business, it will take extraordinary effort the first few years. Once we have supplied that initial "thrust" of hard work, then less effort is required to maintain our momentum. However, if we never provide that initial thrust, or if our effort is less than enough, then we will not realize our goal.

If we have been unmotivated in the past, we must now determine what truly excites and motivates us, so we can "blast off" in the right direction. By going through the process of identifying our true motivations and potential solutions to realizing them, we begin to build up the necessary thrust to get us off our launch pad. By resolving to continue our efforts, we work to build up the momentum that will see us through to our objective.

2) Stage Technology. With most current and past space vehicles, Stage Technology has been required to get the vehicle successfully into orbit. With the Space Shuttle, two solid-rocket boosters provide most of the thrust for the first two minutes of flight (some 5.8 million pounds combined). Once they are used up, they are jettisoned and fall into the ocean. After this, the primary engines continue to carry the Shuttle the rest of the way, fueled by the huge external tank. Again, because of inertia much more force is required to get the Shuttle off the ground, but once it is going, not quite as much force is required. Without Stage Technology, the vehicle would not reach orbit.

Lesson: As we launch our dreams, we will find that our success will go in stages. When we get to a certain level of success, we must build on that success to get ourselves to the next level. So how do we build on our successes? Or what if we feel that we really have no successes to build on?

When I was in my late teens, my dad told me that I should wisely use the next ten years or so to educate myself and gain career experience because, as he said, "a person's twenties are largely a waste." What he was saying is that few people really "set the world on fire" during their 20's, so I should use that time wisely to prepare for later on, especially in the areas of education and career experience. In essence, the 20's are a time to really use Stage Technology in attaining goals and objectives that will only likely come during one's 30's, 40's and beyond. This may sound strange to you if you are in your teens or 20's, but I found it to be very true. If we have no real success to build on so far, this is the best time of our lives to start.

As I look back over my 41 years, I have come to believe that every trial, every adversity, every lesson as well as every positive event have been stages in my efforts to achieve "orbit." The difficulties of starting and successfully operating my own business taught me a lot about the intricacies of such things as hiring good people, cash flow, good customer service, management and a host of other valuable lessons. These experiences were "stages" along the way to even more successes to come. Every time we endure hardship, we can use the experiencejust as a rocket uses a stageto propel us even farther.

If we have enjoyed success in our endeavors, we can capitalize on that success to also propel us farther. Use techniques that have proven successful in one endeavor, to be successful in the next. Once a person has amassed many years of experience along with adversity and hardship, then he or she uses those lessons to reach orbit and beyond. We must never allow difficulties to cause us to blow up in mid-flight.

3) Escaping Orbit. Unlike the Space Shuttle, some spacecraft have missions to explore space outside of earth's orbit. Voyager probes 1 and 2, launched in 1977, are good examples. Once the spacecraft achieves orbit, it will need to increase its speed to seven miles per second to escape earth's gravity. The earth's gravity is used to help accomplish this by using a slingshot technique to launch it out into space. You might say, therefore, that reaching orbit was just a temporary step along the way to fulfilling its ultimate mission.

Lesson: Once we have provided the necessary effort to begin realizing our goal, we may also have attained some success along the way by getting into "orbit." However, the question is, "Are we done yet?" Have we really attained all that we wanted? If not, we must use the "orbit" that we have already achieved, to catapult us on to further aspects of our goal. Again, some further effort will be required so that we can reach the necessary "speed" to escape the limiting bounds of where we are now.

4) Adjusting Course Along the Way. Once a space probe has left orbit, its course is set so that it rendezvous' with the planet at the right place and time. This is critical if the mission is to be successful. The interesting thing about it is that the space probe is sent in a direction that the planet will be when the probe gets there. In other words, if you just aim the probe at where the planet currently is, the planet will have moved a considerable distance in its orbit by the time the probe gets there. There would be no realistic way of constantly adjusting course to compensate, nor would it make any sense. So the probe is sent in the proper direction from the outset. This is not to say that minor course corrections may not become necessary, especially when the probe is visiting more than one planet. When a probe, such as Voyager, is scheduled to visit several planets, the flyby of each planet both accelerates the spacecraft and bends its flight path. Without these gravity assists, Voyager's flight time to Neptune would have taken 30 years, instead of 12 years. So Mission Control issues new commands to alter course as needed.

Lesson: Using foresight, we must identify where our objective will be in the future. That means knowing enough about our objective to determine the course we must take to get there. We also must be flexible enough to change our course when necessary. And that means listening to the "commands" that come along from outside indicators or from our own intuition. This is why my dad told me to get the most education and experience possible during my 20's because this would support reaching my objectives still many years ahead. Don't be afraid to alter course if it means a better and quicker flight path.

Summary: Sometimes problems can arise in the pursuit of our goal or dream. The attitude we take regarding those obstacles will affect our final outcome. Rather than allowing problems to force us to breakup and crash, use them instead to gain momentum and speed in the same way a space probe uses the gravitational field of a planet to accelerate it on to further goals and victories. There will always be problems, just don't let them destroy your dreams. Learn from life's lessons.

The Law of Momentum
Have you ever noticed that when things are going wrong, they just get worse? We've all heard the expression, "When it rains, it pours." Conversely, when things are going well, they seem to get better. This is the Law of Momentum (chapter quote above) at work. The Law states: "When you are down, the universe works to keep you down. When you are up, the universe works to keep you up."

The "universe" is defined as life or the world at large, i.e. our surroundings. This law is really just an adaptation of Newton's first law of motion, but with a more life-relevant approach.

The Law of Momentum can affect everything we do, from finances, to career, to family, to whatever. For example, say that you are having a financially poor month. Perhaps there were too many outflows and not enough inflows. The next thing you know, things start snowballing. Bills that were a certain amount are now more, because they were not paid on time and are incurring a late fee. Worse yet, is if a check happens to "bounce." Not only does the business that took the check charge a fee, but so does the bank. The longer one goes without noticing the overdraft, the more the overdraft fees add up. It is not uncommon for some to have paid out thousands of dollars in bank overdraft fees alone. While this is a simple example, it is nevertheless painfully true in some people's experience.

On the positive side, I have personally experienced times when I thought things could not go any better. "Luck" was on my side. Actually, it wasn't luck at all, it was the Law of Momentum. Any time this occurs, I find that I am enthusiastic, energized and doing well as a result.

This brings up some good questions: What exactly is this mysterious Law of Momentum? What makes up the mechanics of this force? How exactly does it work?

Rather than being some intelligently directed force, I have come to understand that this force of momentum simply exists as a result of our own mindset. We have it available to us at all times, but we must tap into it. The force of momentum is neutralit is neither positive nor negative by nature. We make it positive or negative by our attitude and mental paradigms. This being the case, we make our own luck.

Other areas of life exist where momentum can make or break us. Once we lose our motivation (discussed in the last chapter), our momentum declines as well. If we have lost our momentum, what can we do to regain it?

What Goes Up Doesn't Necessarily Have to Come Down
Just because we have lost our momentum, doesn't mean that we cannot regain it. But we must look at the matter realistically. In the same way that extraordinary effort is required to lift the Space Shuttle off its pad, so we must exert more-than-the-ordinary effort to get our momentum going again.

But we should consider some other aspects here as well, motivation being the primary one. If we are simply not motivated, then it will be all but impossible to regain our momentum in that particular endeavor. So, in trying to regain our momentum, we must approach it in the correct order. First, ask yourself, "Do I really want to do this anymore or even at all?" If the answer is yes, then what would have to change for you to regain your motivation and momentum? If the answer is no, then it is really a moot pointfind something that will motivate you to sustain your momentum.

If we currently have high momentum, or if we have regained it back again, be careful of wrong illusions. Sometimes we may mistakenly think that we are going the wrong direction in our quest for success. How so? Have you ever noticed a car tire turning at high speed? Although the car is moving forward, the wheels give the illusion that the car is actually going backwards. But is it really?

In our search for success, we may in fact have forward momentum, but sometimes get the illusion that we are going backward. This can happen when we make mistakes in business or some other area of our lives. Making mistakes in life is like hitting an unexpected speed bump. It may have slowed us down a bit, but there is no reason to believe that we have stopped our forward momentum completely. If we learn the lesson contained in the "speed bump" and not stop altogether, then the appearance of going backward is really just an illusion. And as we continue our forward motion, this time we are much more experienced and able to avoid similar speed bumps that may lurk down the road.

As you launch yourself toward your goal or dream, use the ideas in this and other chapters to help you sustain your momentum. Once you have found your life's motivation and continue the momentum, the only thing ahead is the stars!


Doug Kelley is a Professional Speaker and author of The Game Rules for Life. He focuses on helping others overcome self-limiting mindsets in the areas of business, sales, and life. To schedule an in-house seminar on this material, or to consider Doug as a speaker for your next event, please contact him at 941-613-3744, or For more information, please visit

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Copyright 2000 By Doug Kelley, CSL. All Rights Reserved. Permission is granted to reprint this article provided it is done so in its entirety (including this copyright box) and notice is given to the author at

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