Skill and effort are key to accomplishing any endeavour. But what if there was more to the secret of success?
Australian swimming coach, Dean Boxall, identified the recipe for success for gold medal winner Arianne Titmus as the combination other factors:
Momentum and confidence. Two genies that if you bottle together make your wishes come true.
I call it “MoCo”.
How are they defined?
Momentum is the quantity of motion of a moving body, measured as a product of its mass and velocity. What does that mean in english?
Picture a fly-wheel:
Where: Momentum = Difficulty - (Effort x Frequency)
The size of the wheel reflects the difficulty of the task and to spin it requires effort and frequency.
The heavier the flywheel the more effort and frequency required to keep it spinning.
The magic of a flywheel (and momentum) is each effort builds upon the previous. The first effort may barely cause it to budge, but the hundredth effort sees it rotate at 50 spins per minute. Not because the effort was any larger, but because of the momentum the wheel already has. Your effort to reward ratio has increased exponentially.
But how do you harness it?
First be clear on your goal. The direction you want to push the flywheel. Any confusion causes misdirected effort and creates additional friction. Slowing down the accrual of momentum. In cricket an ‘all-rounder’ has to divide their training time between batting and bowling, consequently, they’re rarely the best batter or bowler.
Second, identify the effort and time frame to overcome the task. A heavy fly-wheel won't have speed from a few small efforts but it will from a few hundred. How much time do you have to build momentum?
What you’re designing is a system. James Clear states in Atomic Habits, “you don’t rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems”.
The system could be small daily efforts or larger blocks spread throughout the week. “The Writing Guy” Dave Perrell labels people who write every day “daily lifters” and people who write at select times but for longer periods “hero lifters”. Which is better? Whichever you sustain.
Confidence is a feeling of self-assurance arising from an appreciation of one's own abilities. It is the authority you feel.
Picture a weightlifter:
Where Confidence = Ability - Difficulty.
The size of the weight reflects the difficulty of the task and to lift it requires the strength (your ability) to do so.
The heavier the weight the greater the ability required to lift it. If the weight is less than a personal best the lifter would have confidence it could do so. However, if it is heavier, their confidence would dwindle.
Confidence comes from trust in your abilities. Trust that those abilities will match the task you're striving to complete. Context is crucial. If I was competing against a three-year-old in the 50m Butterfly, I’d hold no doubt about my ability to win (although there's a chance we would both be DQ'd for not finishing).
However, if I was in the pool with an Olympic swimmer, my confidence would shrivel.
How do these forces combine?
If confidence is belief in one’s own ability and momentum is built from systematic training, then momentum is a foundational piece of confidence.
Why is MoCo the secret ingredient to success?
Any ultra-competitive landscape the difference in skill and effort across top competitors is marginal. The smallest variations determine winners. In those environments who is more likely to win, the person with self-belief? Or those questioning their ability?
What is self-belief a sign of? Confidence.
What’s the best way to grow confidence? Momentum.
What’s the secret to winning? MoCo.
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