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Sunday, December 14, 2014

What's Your 20 Mile March?


     This past week I watched a DVD of a leadership summit with Jim Collins as a featured speaker. You know, the guy who wrote Good to Great and Great by choice. There were many parallels in his talk about why some people and companies are successful and others are not. It made me think of Ashley Craig, the $100,000.00 winner of Nail’d it.  She shared many of the disciplines Collins shares in his book.  What are they? 
     First off you must have what he calls level 5 leadership behaviors, whether you are leading yourself, or a team. The x factor of great leaders is humility combined with will. Given you already have great leadership qualities what are these other factors that separate the good from the great?

   Fanatic Discipline- Collins calls this the 20 mile march.  This 20 mile march came from a story he shared about two teams on an expedition to reach the South Pole.  One team was successful, the other, perished. Dutch explorer Amundsen successfully led his team 20 miles every day, day in and day out. Not 25 on a good day and 5 on a bad day. 20 miles, day in and day out. Consistent forward progress, every day. It’s also just as important to know to not overdo, and leave yourself vulnerable to unforeseen situations. Managing yourself and your team in good times so you’re strong for bad times. When Ashley spoke of creating a home for herself and her daughter she knew she would have to build a career so she enrolled in Nail school. From her interviews it’s clear she was persistent , attending day in and day out, inching toward her goal.  What is your 20 mile march? What do you need to do today to set the conditions to hit your mark, consistently, whatever that mark may be? 

    Empirical Creativity – Discipline is not enough, we must create new things, take risks on new creative ideas to improve our work. How are you innovating differently than those around you? The key to this is in empirical. Creativity must be based on testing and experience. Placing the big bets, the big risks better be based on something you know is going to work. Collins recommends the bullets to cannonball theory. Fire small bullets at the target until you have a line of site before you load the big cannon.  Have a direction, some success before you go all in. You must blend creativity and discipline, when we do this it amplifies our creativity rather than destroys it. Ashley already had a string of wins before she entered this competition, a line of site, a proven winning formula she amplified with discipline.

     Productive Paranoia The only mistakes you can learn from are the ones you survive. Yes you have to be optimistic, but also be aware things can get hairy. You may look at the glass as full but are keenly aware it may shatter at any moment. Successful people have reserves from the time they are small, it is not a luxury just for the bigger companies. Most success is due to this conservative start that they fiercely maintain as they grow. Take that paranoia and translate it into buffers, built in reserves in case disaster strikes. It is what you do before difficult times come, the discipline you have in good times that make the biggest difference in your success, so you can be strong when people need you.   Collins uses the analogy SMaC. Specific, Methodical and Consistent. The greatest danger is not failure; it is being successful without understanding why you are successful in the first place. Ashley was consistently aware that there were talented competitors on her tail. Yet she dug deep into her talent reserves and delivered great work. This is such a great big topic and there was so much more I could share, so I hope I have stirred your interest to learn more about it. Read more about Jim Collins research. Find your 20 mile march and follow it!