Why Limits are Key to Successful Career Gains

20 Mile Marching in Winter in the Alps

Sometimes it feels like you’re in the middle of the “next big thing” – energy is high, opportunities are plenty, and you are burning the candle at both ends. While you may be making great strides towards your goals during these times, you might be surprised to know that research has shown a benefit to curbing your enthusiasm.

Slow and steady really does win the race.

In the book “Great by Choice” Jim Collins describes the hallmark of great companies that thrive and grow during tumultuous times. These companies didn’t merely survive bad times that buried competition, but they actually performed exceptionally well, even by benchmarks from industry good times.

The secret, he says, is the “20 Mile March” – the relentless and highly disciplined strategy of performing between two bounds. Never missing a performance minimum standard even in the worst conditions, but also, never reaching beyond a self-imposed ceiling even in the best conditions.   This has three specific benefits:

 

  1. Increased confidence, resulting from your demonstrated ability to perform well in adverse circumstances
  1. Enhanced margin of safety to prevent collapse from burn-out, overextended resources, and other vulnerabilities when the unexpected happens
  1. Strengthened self-control, which is our only real sphere of influence in an out of control environment.

We are all subjected to challenges and harsh circumstances from time to time, and yet, some people and companies are more successful than others, despite having similarly poor situations.

The good news – it is never to late to start your 20 Mile March habit – choosing to make disciplined progress in manageable increments without fail, no matter what else outside of your control is impacting the market, your team, your company, or your industry.

What is the one change you could make to your work process today to establish a 20 Mile March mentality?  I’d love to see your answer on Twitter.

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