Did you get your 20 miles in today?

Someone was describing to me a principle they read about yesterday in the book Great by Choice by Jim Collin’s.  They spoke about the “20 mile march” belief that is told to us through a story about the two teams that attempted to get to the South Pole first in 1911.

Roald Amundsen prepared for the 1400 mile journey by living with the Eskimos and learning how they dressed and moved in sub-zero temperatures.  On the other hand Robert Falcon Scott did little research in preparation for the same trek.  Amundsen’s team used dog sleds like the Eskimos taught him and took three tons of supplies for five men.  Scott took motorized sleds that failed after the first few days and had only one ton of supplies for a team of seventeen men.

In planning the route Amundsen built in numerous buffers along his route.  He knew they would run into unforeseen situations and was ready for them.  On the other hand Scott had his route planned out without buffers and any room for catastrophes.  On December 15, 1911 Amundsen’s team planted the Norwegian flag at the South Pole.  Scott’s team was 500 miles behind.  Scott’s team all died as they ran out supplies.  Amundsen’s team reached home base on January 25th the exact day he planned.

The big difference in their approach was how Amundsen’s team would only go 15-20 miles per day.  They would only go this far on the clear days and on the windy and cold days they would try to get to the similar range.  The idea was not to get the team tired and run down.  Scott would push his team to go as far as they could on good days and on bad days they would not go anywhere.  What a great life lesson to learn, some days you are tired and want to take it easy.  To be successful you must do your 20 miles or basic work to meet your goals.

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