the 20 mile march

As I said in the last post, this is a series on principles of discipline that have resonated with me and help shape the way I live my everyday life.  Each principle is borrowed from someone else, so I will do my best to give credit where credit is due, while also talking about how it impacts my own life!

Jim Collins writes about the principle of the 20 mile march in his book Great by Choice.  In this book, he tells the story of two arctic explorers, Ronald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott.  In October of 1911, each man was leading a team of explorers in a race to be the first humans to traverse the 1400 miles of wilderness required to reach the South Pole.  While both teams were 20 mile marchsimilar in makeup, Amundsen and Scott differed greatly in approach.  Scott took each day as it came, on clear days his team would press on until exhaustion, travelling the greatest distance they could.  On days with poor weather, his team would remain at camp, not venturing out into the storm.  Amundsen’s team had a different strategy.  No matter how the day dawned, his team had the same goal- 1/4 of a degree latitude- or 15 to 20 miles per day.  On stormy days they would press ahead, eyes fixed upon their goal.  On clear days when they could have done more, they would rest, knowing that their task had been achieved.  Each explorer could justify their approach… yet, Admunsen’s team reached the South Pole a full month before the other team.  Once they got there, they turned around and headed back home, 20 miles at a time.  Scott’s team reached the South Pole, but perished on the return journey, exhausted and depleted.

I have the reputation for being a voracious reader.  When people ask me how I read so much, my answer seems condescending: One chapter at a time.  I don’t mean to be rude, but that is truly how I get the reading done.  I promise myself that I will read one chapter per day.  That means, in a week or two, the book has been read.

The same with scripture- 3 chapters a day will allow you to read the entire Bible in a year.  Done.

Walking or running 3 miles each day helps ensure you that you will reach a 10,000 step goal each day.

When I walk into the office each morning, I make a practice of using the first 30 minutes to read and reply to each email in my inbox.

These small, achievable goals add up to progress.   1400 miles, one step at a time.  What small daily goals could you make part of your 20 mile march?  Would shifting your thinking to encapsulate this make you feel more in control of your life?  If you would, I would challenge you to take up the practice!  It has changed my life!

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.
Colossians 3:23


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