Growing up, I was always obsessed with the romanticized version of how people accomplish great things. I watched on TV and in the movies as heroes made that one move or that one act of intensity to win the boxing match or close the deal. I wanted to be like them. The kind of guy that can walk into a room (match, game,etc.) own it and leave with the trophy.
But, I soon found that life was not like the movies. As I started wrestling, I quickly learned that I couldn’t just walk onto the mat and make that one dramatic move to win the match, as much as I wanted to believe this to be true. TV and movies lied to me.
Moving out of sports and into entrepreneurship, this belief only strengthened.
In order to achieve what I wanted in life, I needed more than just heart and will to win.
And you do too.
You have a big dream. You have a big goal. You want to change the world.
For, entrepreneurs and aspiring changemakers, dreaming big and having big goals comes with the territory.
But having big goals doesn’t mean you will accomplish these goals. Having them and dreaming of them isn’t enough.
You need to plan, and you need to execute. And here is where we come across the issues in achieving big goals. The second step is where 95% of the population falls short.
The business graveyard (and dream graveyard) is littered with companies and people who didn’t didn’t execute properly.
But, there is a surefire way to hit your goals almost every time. It’s what the most successful people and companies in the world use to hit major goals and change our world.
It’s called the 20 mile march.
The true story behind the 20 Mile March
In 1911, two teams of explorers raced to be the first people in modern history to reach the South Pole. Both teams, one led by Roald Amundsen and the other by Robert Falcon Scott, began their journey at the same time, near the same location, and were similarly equipped. But their captains had two very different strategies for the race.
The first captain, Scott, had his team hike extremely hard every day there was good weather and winds, and proceed slowly on days with bad weather and winds. Some days they would hike 50 miles, some they would hike zero.
Amundsen, on the other hand, had his team march just 15 – 20 miles each day, no matter what the weather was. Even when his crew moaned that they had great weather and Scott’s team was gaining a lead, he kept to his strategy. 20 miles a day, no matter what.
Which strategy are you applying to reach your goals?
Do you relate more closely to Scott or Amundsen?
Who do you think won the race?
Not only did the Amundsen and his team, who marched 20 miles a day, make it there first, they beat Scott’s team by 34 days. Even worse, every crew member on Scott’s team, including Scott, froze or starved to death.
In his book, Great by Choice, author Jim Collins analyzed what made 7 companies, out of the 20,400 he researched, 10 times better than their industry index over a 30 year period. He compared all of these companies to relative companies over the same time period, similar size, similar capabilities, same environment.
He noticed that ALL 7 companies used the 20 mile march strategy, “even when afraid or tempted by opportunity”
I have used the 20 mile march in all areas of my life. When I started reading books, I had a goal of reading 3 books a month. This goal was intimidating to me and tough to implement. I found myself cramming hours of reading in at the end of the month, totally missing the point of the goal (to learn and better myself). After a few failed attempts, I decided to start reading just 10 pages a day. This to me felt manageable yet would add up fast. Over the course of the year that would equate to 3,650 pages read. This “20 Mile March” let to a consistent reading routine that is now a keystone habit in my life.
I have also used this 20 Mile March in business. In my first company in college, I wanted to run the top franchise in my division. In order to do that, I broke down my 20 Mile March to 10 estimates (sales meetings) a weekend. At a 50% close rate, I knew that if I could just do 10 estimates a week, I would be the top guy in the division. So I focused my whole team around that number. Everyone knew where we stood each day towards that goal. We wound up being the top sales team in the division that year.
5 reasons why the 20 mile march works:
1. It breaks down a huge goal into small, daily chunks that are manageable.
Hiking 3,000 miles to the south pole? Hard and scary. Hiking 15 – 20 miles a day? Manageable. Doing $1,000,000 in revenue may sound like a scary goal, but breaking that down into what you have to sell each day or week makes it much more attainable.
2. It focuses the mind.
Once the plan is made, you can wake up every day and know exactly what your number is that day. There is no ambiguity here. No wondering. You know the lever you have to pull each and every day. For sales people in my former company, the 20 mile march was one close a day. If they could just focus on how to make one close a day, they’d hit their goal. For sales development reps that can be 3 appointments set a day.
3. It gives you control in out of control situations.
When blizzards stood in the way of Amundsen, they still marched 20 miles. They pushed through on those days. They didn’t let circumstance knock them off their 20 mile march. Southwest’s 20 mile march was to be profitable every year. Even when the airline industry lost a collective $13 billion dollars and laid off 100,000 people, Southwest stayed profitable (and didn’t lay off a single employee). They were able to do this due to their adherence to their 20 mile march. When times were good they could have ran at a loss and invested into expansion, but instead they stuck to their 20 mile march, which allowed them to be profitable when everyone else was failing. Southwest is the only airline to generate a profit for 30 consecutive years.
4. It prevents burnout.
The 20 mile march keeps the team (and yourself fresh). By keeping the discipline of the 20 mile march, you and the team can ultimately go farther. I wrote about a great way to kick off the 20 Mile March mentality; implement a hard stop time into your work day. This hard stop prevents the burnout most entrepreneurs and aspiring changemakers face. You can read that article here.
5. It builds confidence
Achievement is key to building confidence. The 20 mile march gives all team members a rapid feedback loop. In essence, you are getting a small win every day, which builds confidence. And when you persist with your 20 mile march through hard days, it builds your confidence even more. Soon you and your team will have the confidence to persist through all turbulent conditions.
The 20 mile march is the secret to all audacious goal achievement. When implemented correctly, the 20 mile march can help you and your team reach your biggest goals, and have the confidence to set even bigger ones next time. The 20 mile march can also help you hit your personal goals and live your best life.
If it worked for a group of explorers discovering a new part of our planet, and it worked for some of the most successful companies in the world, it can work for you and your team.
Want to see how to implement the20-mile march into your business?
Book a free strategy call with me here. During the call, we’ll evaluate your goals and create your company’s 20 mile march.