How to Be Awesome Without Really Trying

This week I have been struck by the glaring reality that I am a people pleaser. In some circles that is something of a quality. That is how great salesmen are formed and how many rise in ranking in political and business fronts. However, in my world of Jesus pleasing it is definitely a problem. Now, do understand that I love making people happy and getting things done to serve others. My problem is that I take on so much, and push so hard mostly at my own detriment in order to secure the continual love, respect and title of “Awesome” from those whom I serve.

Here is the plain and simple truth. As a believer, my identity, love, and respect come from my savior and Lord Jesus Christ and the work He did on the cross for me. Even for those without Christianity as their moral compass, a life lived in pursuit of the approval of others, is a deadly life indeed.

In the past two months I read an awesome book, Great by Choice by Jim Collins and Morten Hansen (referenced in the last post on Joshua’s Army, the discipleship group).

Morten and Jim

This book looked at companies that had 10 times the return of their peers over an extended period of time. In looking at those companies they discovered some great truths and principles. One of them that had the greatest impact on me is what they called the “20 Mile March.”

In my own words a 20 Mile march is the set time, effort, or energy placed toward a goal on a consistent basis, despite the circumstances. In defining and determining to follow a 20 mile march, you are more in control of your future. Circumstances/luck can’t cause success or failure, but you do and the discipline you develop along the way.

This section of the book pointed to a memorable story of two teams attempting subzero journeys to the South Pole. Despite journeying through the same lucky/unlucky conditions, one team made it and in the exact amount of time they had expected while the other team died just a handful of miles from safety. One reason that Amundsen, the leader of the successful team made it back to camp, was a fanatic discipline to be consistent. Each day they traveled about 17 miles, even when they could have pushed it, further in nice weather and even when they felt as though it would have been a good day to rest due to horrific conditions.

Here are some of the main points of that section of the book as reported in Fortune Magazine,

Why 20 mile march?

Twenty-Mile Marching helps turn the odds in your favor for three reasons.

First, it builds confidence in your ability to perform well in adverse circumstances.

Second, 20-Mile Marching reduces the likelihood of catastrophe when you’re hit by turbulent disruption.

Third, 20-Mile Marching helps you exert self-control in an out-of-control environment.

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.

Financial markets are out of your control. Customers are out of your control. Earthquakes are out of your control. Global competition is out of your control. Technological change is out of your control. 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.

Read the full article here or another discussing the book here.

Rather than going for broke everyday I feel good to get to my goal, as Scott the leader of the team that failed did, I am now determined to develop and dedicate my days to a 20 Mile March. On the way to my goal, I am sure that there are going to be days when I feel very accomplished and “Awesome” because I pushed through some pain but there will also be days when I feel like I could have done so much more, but that is where the discipline comes in. The goal is consistency, not simply improved efforts.

I know that my past has taught me that I can push it way hard and be SUPER Awesome, amassing acclaim and respect wherever I put my hands to work. However, I am learning that, like Amundsen, awesomeness will really be achieved in making it back to camp with my team in one piece and the goal accomplished. Being the first to reach the first few checkmarks in flashy fashion, means nothing if I die miles from the finish.

Along the way some of you will be disappointed; some of you will be impressed, but when I make it home on my last day, Jesus will say, “Well done good and faithful servant.”

Here’s to longevity and success in tough and abundant times.

Go be AWESOME, by being consistent.

What areas do you think you could apply a 20-Mile March?

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