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The Power of Momentum

It’s amazing the difference momentum can make in a ballgame.

In many close basketball games, the outcome isn’t determined by which team led on the scoreboard for the most time. Instead, games are often won or lost based on momentum — streaks of incredible performance that seem to transcend regular gameplay.

When your favorite team is on a hot streak, it can be a euphoric feeling. The players work as a single organism, moving beautifully across the floor and making dazzling moves look easy. Even if you are rooting for the underdog, during those moments of brilliance, you sincerely believe your team can win. And if they find a way to capitalize on that momentum, they have a pretty good chance of pulling off an upset.

Of course, sometimes the opposing team has the momentum. And those times are agonizing. Your team can’t move the ball, they can’t hit a shot, and they commit sloppy fouls and turn the ball over too frequently. A team with a comfortable lead can watch victory quickly slip away if they lose the momentum in the game and fail to get it back.

Momentum is an integral part of basketball, but it also plays a critical role in the success or failure of organizations. I spent a lot of my life as a member of a church that seemed healthy and thriving, but lost its momentum somewhere along the way and closed within a few years. It was tragic. Now I’m part of a church that is on fire, having one success after another, and the feeling is electric. Like an elite basketball team in the middle of a hot run, we feel unstoppable.

There are lessons to be learned here for travel groups, too. The winds of momentum can push your church’s travel ministry to dazzling heights or terrifying lows. There are church travel programs around the country that are growing, thriving and experiencing amazing success. There are others in similar churches in similar cities that are seeing their numbers shrink, their members age and their enthusiasm wane.

Momentum can seem magical, but it isn’t random. Great coaches know how to control the momentum in a game. When things are going well, they build up as much of a lead as possible because they know the hot streak won’t last forever. When the other team seems to be controlling the game, coaches call timeouts, substitute players and formulate new strategies to swing the momentum back in their direction.

I hope your travel program is experiencing a hot streak, not a slow spiral. But no matter what state your program is in, I encourage you to take stock of your group’s health and keep an eye out for the forces that will lift you up, as well as those that could push you down. If things are looking good now, think about how you might capitalize on your current success so a string of bad luck doesn’t set you back in the future. And if things aren’t looking great for your group, be willing to take the bold action required to keep unfortunate events from putting you out of business.

And remember that in the end, winners create their own momentum.

Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.