Twenty miles…of pressing in and holding back.
The year was 1911.
Two teams of explorers race to become the first humans to reach the South Pole, seeking the honor of placing their country’s flag in its soil. Robert Falcon Scott of Great Britain and Norway’s Roald Amundsen not only lead their teams in battle with one another, but against the merciless elements of Antarctica.
A three-month trek in arctic conditions would take its toll on the body and the mind. They faced extreme cold and bitter winds, frostbite, minimal food supplies, and complete exhaustion. The wilderness of white was relentless and unending.
The teams navigated the same treacherous journey, but with two completely different approaches.
Jim Collins, in Great by Choice, compares their methods.
Amundsen set a goal of plodding no more than 20 miles a day no matter what the weather offered. On the other hand, Scott’s team would press out as many miles as possible in good conditions, but huddle in their tents if the weather proved harsh.
Scott drove his team to exhaustion by pushing them to travel as far as possible on fair weather days.
Amundsen’s “no more than twenty-miles a day” was used as both a goal and a form of constraint. Even if his team desired to advance farther he would hold them to the 20 miles.
Wise leadership knew that pressing physically could mean they might be caught in a blizzard or miss a supply point, which would be life-threatening, if not fatal.
Amundsen and his team reached the South Pole first and returned to base camp on the day he forecasted. They traveled an astonishing 1,860 miles in ninety-nine days!
Scott did arrive at the South Pole, only to discover the Norwegian Flag already waving there in triumph of Amundsen’s claim. Tragically, Scott and his weary team all perished on the return trip, eleven miles short of a supply station.
What about your journey?
My guess it isn’t as treacherous as this nearly impossible trip to the South Pole, but wouldn’t it be just as tragic to never reach your dream and have it die in the process? Amundsen disciplined action serves as an incredible illustration of the value of moving consistently toward a significant goal.
What steady practices do you adhere to day after day, no matter the weather or circumstances? What disciplines do you embrace even when you don’t “feel” like it?
What is your 20 mile approach?
Where is that place you want to plant that flag that claims you are living Your One Beautiful Life?
You are worth every dream you have ever had and every goal you have ever set. I would love to help you get there!