The Big Mo

I discovered the phrase “The Big Mo” in a book on presidential campaigns. It seems candidate George Bush used it in 1980 after an early primary victory, claiming that momentum (“The Big Mo”) was on his side. He lost the nomination soon after.

Whenever I think about how to create and maintain momentum (you’d be surprised), The Big Mo is on my mind. Plus, you pretty much have to smile when you say it.

Momentum is a superpower. It’s a timely burst of forward motion that makes unrealistic undertakings possible. That same forward motion is also a sign of life. Absent momentum, companies, projects, talents, passions, and even relationships stagnate. What can thrive without it?

My romanticized perspective sees all movement as progress. That’s not the case, though, as Pete Townshend made clear long ago:

You were under the impression That when you were walking forward You'd end up further onward But things ain't quite that simple.

When a company is struggling and people begin to leave, there is a sort of momentum, just not the type that leads to glowing press coverage. In the same way that a car gathers momentum downhill, negative momentum is often the path of least resistance.

In this season of dispatches, we’ll explore the part momentum plays in projects, relationships, and our own lives. How can we build and sustain forward momentum? How do we keep from being pulled backwards? And when does it make sense to just stand still?