Wednesday, January 4, 2012

my 20 mile march

everyone's making new year's resolutions.  

seems like a great idea but i've never really been big on this tradition.  i'm more the kinda girl who is constantly exploring ideas for making myself more efficient or more productive or more disciplined or more creative every day of the year...not just in january {i don't recommend this mode of operation by the way}.  

i do love the idea of a fresh start...a new beginning.  maybe that's because i have messed up so many things in my life.  i cling to God's promise to 'make all things new' not just during these first few days of 2012 but always.  although i'm a hard worker and do my part to make good forward progress in life, i know it's ultimately by his grace that i ever get anything right.

all this talk about resolutions has reminded me of the 20 mile march i've been meaning to get started on...

if you haven't heard of jim collins...check him out.  he's author, teacher, student, management guru, rock climber, fortune magazine cover boy, and the guy who introduced me to the 2o mile march.

a few months ago i joined 13, 000 other folks at the catalyst conference where we gained wisdom from leaders from across the world.  jim collins was one of them.

below is an excerpt from fortune magazine which contains my big 'take away' from collins' talk at catalyst.  {you can read the really long entire article here}  these concepts are further explored in his book - great by choice - which is a great read for anyone in a position of leadership {which should be pretty much all of us!}.

before you dive into the article here's a little bit of my personal 20 mile march i've been working's my way of saying to myself - this is enough...any more is icing on the cake.  i've always needed help with pacing.  i somehow think the 24 hour daily limit of time doesn't apply to me.  my days wind up crammed full so that i go, go, go...until i crash.  let's see how a consistent 20 mile march can help.  how are you pacing yourself this year?

words and wonder :: one morning per week :: me, macbook, a few good books, and a decaf cup of joe...hours of reading and writing goodness...
tiny time :: 30 minutes per day :: uninterrupted play time with my kiddos
tidy time :: 30 minutes per day :: uninterrupted clean up
love lessons :: 2 meals per week :: me and my hubby across the table from each other without tiny hands stealing food from our plates or conversations being interrupted by roaring preschool sing-alongs
meet your maker :: 15 minutes per day :: reading scripture, reflecting through prayer, pouring into the most important relationship in my life

...more to come...

tom's ballet flats!!
{yes - this may seem random but i am planning to do some of my 20  mile marching in these cute things this year}

here's the article...

Are you an Amundsen or a Scott?
In October 1911, two teams of adventurers made their final preparations in their quest to be the first people in modern history to reach the South Pole. For one team, it would be a race to victory and a safe return home. For the second team, it would be a devastating defeat, reaching the Pole only to find the wind-whipped flags of their rivals planted 34 days earlier, followed by a race for their lives -- a race that they lost in the end, as the advancing winter swallowed them up. All five members of the second Pole team perished, staggering from exhaustion, suffering the dead-black pain of frostbite, and then freezing to death as some wrote their final journal entries and notes to loved ones back home.
It's a near-perfect matched pair. Here we have two expedition leaders -- Roald Amundsen, the winner, and Robert Falcon Scott, the loser -- of similar ages (39 and 43) and with comparable experience. Amundsen and Scott started their respective journeys for the Pole within days of each other, both facing a roundtrip of more than 1,400 miles into an uncertain and unforgiving environment, where temperatures could easily reach 20˚ below zero even during the summer, made worse by gale-force winds. And keep in mind, this was 1911. They had no means of modern communication to call back to base camp -- no radio, no cellphones, no satellite links -- and a rescue would have been highly improbable at the South Pole if they screwed up. One leader led his team to victory and safety. The other led his team to defeat and death.
What separated these two men? Why did one achieve spectacular success in such an extreme set of conditions, while the other failed even to survive? It's a fascinating question and a vivid analogy for our overall topic. Here we have two leaders, both on quests for extreme achievement in an extreme environment. And it turns out that the 10X business leaders in our research behaved very much like Amundsen and the comparison leaders behaved much more like Scott.
Amundsen and Scott achieved dramatically different outcomes not because they faced dramatically different circumstances. In the first 34 days of their respective expeditions, according to Roland Huntford in his superb book The Last Place on Earth, Amundsen and Scott had exactly the same ratio, 56%, of good days to bad days of weather. If they faced the same environment in the same year with the same goal, the causes of their respective success and failure simply cannot be the environment. They had divergent outcomes principally because they displayed very different behaviors.
Imagine you're standing with your feet in the Pacific Ocean in San Diego, looking inland. You're about to embark on a 3,000-mile walk, from San Diego to the tip of Maine. On the first day you march 20 miles, making it out of town.
On the second day you march 20 miles. And again, on the third day you march 20 miles, heading into the heat of the desert. It's hot, more than 100˚F, and you want to rest in the cool of your tent. But you don't. You get up and you march 20 miles.
You keep the pace, 20 miles a day.
Then the weather cools, and you're in comfortable conditions with the wind at your back, and you could go much farther. But you hold back, modulating your effort. You stick with your 20 miles.
Then you reach the Colorado high mountains and get hit by snow, wind, and temperatures below zero -- and all you want to do is stay in your tent. But you get up. You get dressed. You march your 20 miles.
You keep up the effort -- 20 miles, 20 miles, 20 miles -- then you cross into the plains, and it's glorious springtime, and you can go 40 or 50 miles in a day. But you don't. You sustain your pace, marching 20 miles.
And eventually, you get to Maine.
Now, imagine another person who starts out with you on the same day in San Diego. He gets all excited by the journey and logs 40 miles the first day.
Exhausted from his first gigantic day, he wakes up to 100˚ temperatures. He decides to hang out until the weather cools, thinking, "I'll make it up when conditions improve." He maintains this pattern -- big days with good conditions, whining and waiting in his tent on bad days -- as he moves across the western United States.
Just before the Colorado high mountains, he gets a spate of great weather and he goes all out, logging 40- to 50-mile days to make up lost ground. But then he hits a huge winter storm when utterly exhausted. It nearly kills him and he hunkers down in his tent, waiting for spring.
When spring finally comes, he emerges, weakened, and stumbles off toward Maine. By the time he enters Kansas City, you, with your relentless 20-mile march, have already reached the tip of Maine. You win, by a huge margin.
On Dec. 12, 1911, Amundsen and his team reached a point 45 miles from the South Pole. He had no idea of Scott's whereabouts. Scott had taken a different route slightly to the west, so for all Amundsen knew, Scott was ahead of him. The weather had turned clear and calm, and sitting high on the smooth Polar Plateau, Amundsen had perfect ski and sled conditions for the remainder of the journey to the South Pole. Amundsen noted, "Going and surface as good as ever. Weather splendid -- calm with sunshine." His team had journeyed more than 650 miles, carving a path straight over a mountain range, climbing from sea level to over 10,000 feet. And now, with the anxiety of "Where's Scott?" gnawing away, his team could reach its goal within 24 hours in one hard push.
And what did Amundsen do?
He went 17 miles.
Throughout the journey, Amundsen adhered to a regimen of consistent progress, never going too far in good weather, careful to stay far away from the red line of exhaustion that could leave his team exposed, yet pressing ahead in nasty weather to stay on pace. Amundsen throttled back his well-tuned team to travel between 15 and 20 miles per day, in a relentless march to 90˚south. When a member of Amundsen's team suggested they could go faster, up to 25 miles a day, Amundsen said no. They needed to rest and sleep so as to continually replenish their energy.
In contrast, Scott would sometimes drive his team to exhaustion on good days and then sit in his tent and complain about the weather on bad days. In early December, Scott wrote in his journal about being stopped by a blizzard: "I doubt if any party could travel in such weather." But when Amundsen faced conditions comparable to Scott's, he wrote in his journal, "It has been an unpleasant day -- storm, drift, and frostbite, but we have advanced 13 miles closer to our goal." Amundsen clocked in at the South Pole right on pace, having averaged 15½ miles per day.
Most everything is ultimately out of your control. But when you 20-Mile March, you have a tangible point of focus that keeps you and your team moving forward, despite confusion, uncertainty, and even chaos.