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Albert Einstein once made a wonderful point about his theory of relativity: He only came up with it once, but it kept him in pipe tobacco for years.

Einstein realized what more leaders need to discover: that a major breakthrough can launch an organization from good to great, so great leaders always push for that breakthrough.

Breakthroughs occur when we continually:

1. Meet needs (which allows us to stay in the arena)
2. Improve ourselves and our team
3. Succeed. It's a fact that there is no success like success

Pushing for a breakthrough generates a leader's best friend - momentum. Momentum makes your work or your mission easier to accomplish than anything else. I often tell leaders that momentum is worth three staff members. In fact, if some leaders would get rid of the right three staff members, they might instantly get some momentum.

Momentum is the great exaggerator for both the good and the bad. When you have no momentum, things look worse than they really are. And when you have momentum, it makes things look better than they ever seemed to be.

So you've got to push for the breakthrough - from build-up to breakthrough, from good to great. Good is build-up; great is breakthrough.

But there's a temptation that comes with a breakthrough and the momentum that comes with it - the temptation to ease up and celebrate the victory. You just kind of want to sit back and say, "Wow! Aren't we good?" It just feels good to know you've achieved something. And while it's OK to celebrate the touchdowns, we have to remember that the next play in the game just might get us beat.

In fact, dancing in the end zone is exactly the opposite of what you should do. When you have a breakthrough, that's when you spend more time, more energy and more money. Once you have that ball rolling, the compounding effect is so huge you don't ever want that ball to stop.

Instead, the time to ease up is when things have slowed down. When you don't have momentum and when you don't have a breakthrough - when the train already has stopped - get off and take a rest. You weren't going anywhere anyway!

But once the train gets going again, don't get off. When you've got momentum and the breakthrough, it's dangerous to jump off. You could hurt yourself. You could hurt your organization.

So if you want to go from good leadership to great leadership, keep pushing toward a breakthrough. And when momentum arrives, either because you are near the goal or because you've broken through, don't ease up. That's when you push the pedal to the metal.

This article is used by permission from Dr. John C. Maxwell's free
monthly e-newsletter: Leadership Wired available at

Author Biography

John C. Maxwell
Web site: Injoy Group
John Maxwell grew up in the 1950s in the small Midwestern city of Circleville, Ohio. John's earliest childhood memory is of knowing that he would someday be a pastor. He professed faith in Christ at the age of three, and reaffirmed that commitment when he was 13. At age 17, John began preparing for the ministry. He attended Circleville Bible College, earning his bachelor's degree in 1969. In June of that same year, he married his sweetheart, Margaret, and moved to tiny Hillham, Indiana, where he began his first pastorate.

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