Over the past month or so, I have been reading a book called, “Great by Choice” by Jim Collins.  In short, this book discusses how successful leaders become successful leaders.  How businesses, teams, or organizations have success no matter the circumstances around them.  This book uses stats and research to show how the most successful leaders operate and achieve their goals. 

One of the most important lessons in this book is knowing your metaphorical “20 mile march.”  This means you create two types of self-imposed discomforts (1) the discomfort of unwavering commitment to high performance in difficult conditions, and (2) the discomfort of holding back in good conditions.  If we know our 20 mile march and what we should do each day, we will be able to have success no matter what life throws at us.  This type of plan requires discipline, self-control, preparing for anything, and a certain level of paranoia.  It’s knowing that things will go wrong or circumstances will change, and taking the time to prepare for those adversities every day.  If the most successful leaders miss their 20 mile march, even once, they obsess over what they need to do to get back on track:  There’s no excuse, and it is up to them to correct for their failures.  Collins says, “The truth is you can get away with failing to 20 mile march in stable times for a while, but doing so leaves you weak and undisciplined, and therefore exposed when unstable times come.  And they will always come.” Over the last month or so I have tried to apply this principle to my life too. 

For me, I have started mapping out each month; my schedule, my work and tasks, my goals, my reading and learnings, my workouts, my quiet time, and how I can add value to others.  This helps me to make sure I do the most important things each day, nothing more and nothing less.  It gives me a road map each day.  So on easy days, I try to do the same things as I would on difficult days.  With my 20 mile march, I have purposely made it easier to accomplish than I could have.  Why?  Because I know hard days will come and consistently doing a little each day is way better than short inconsistent bursts of extreme effort.  I have definitely made some mistakes as I have implemented my 20 mile march, but I think that is also a part of the process too; seeing what works and what doesn’t.  So what is your 20 mile march?  Are you confident or fearful when you face adversity?  What we do every day is what we become.

— Darren Morrison, Leadership Coordinator

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