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SPI 536: The 20-Mile March

Control. We all want it, but the truth is very little is actually in our control.

The financial markets are out of your control. Earthquakes are out of your control. Your customers are out of your control. So what’s in your control? The ability to wake up every day and be consistent with whatever it is you’re trying to achieve.

Perhaps 2021 didn’t go exactly the way you wanted it to, or you fell short on some goals. As you’re looking toward 2022, I want to share an excerpt from a book called Great by Choice by Jim Colllins, which contains a wonderful concept called the “twenty-mile march” that might give you some direction for approaching your goals in the new year.

Most things are ultimately out of our control, but this concept provides a tangible point of focus that keeps you and your team moving forward in the midst of confusion, uncertainty, and even chaos.

So as we round out 2021, this episode is meant to provide a little boost of inspiration, maybe a little revelation for you to help you realize that no matter the conditions, you’ve got to keep going and march that 20 miles each day.

Announcer: Welcome to the Smart Passive Income Podcast, where it’s all about working hard now so you can sit back and reap the benefits later. And now your host. He likes miniature things because it makes him feel like a giant, Pat Flynn.

Pat Flynn: It is Christmas Eve here in the Flynn family. We do celebrate Christmas. And first of all, Happy Holidays to everybody. This is going to be a shorter episode, but I wanted to read an excerpt from a great book that I think would be fun to think about, fun to consider as far as dinner conversation at your holiday parties or what have you. But Christmas Eve is the time at which this episode comes out.

Pat Flynn: And it’s interesting, because ever since 2009, Christmas Eve has changed for my family and I. Specifically my wife and I in 2009. Before then it was always just, well, Christmas Eve, the day before Christmas. But in 2009, that day changed forever for us, because that was the day our son, Keoni, was born. He is now, at the time of this episode coming out, 12 years old, which is insane because I remember publishing episodes of the podcast when he was one, and his voice was on the show. I got to bring him back. He’s definitely changed a bit. His voice is a little lower, and he is currently in sixth grade and doing excellent. And his sister, Kailani, is in third grade and she’s doing excellent as well. Yeah, it’s Christmas Eve so we’re probably, at the time of this recording, coming out, just celebrating his birthday. And then the next day, Jesus’s birthday.

Pat Flynn: But I wanted to just, first of all, say thank you for what an amazing year. We have a few episodes left in the year and they’re absolutely incredible. I highly recommend you get ready for them, because they’re going to set you up for success here in 2022, which is weird to say. 2022.

Pat Flynn: But I wanted to read an excerpt to you. This was something that somebody had read this to me, and it really helped me understand a lot of the work I was doing and a lot of where my head was at, and I wanted to read it to you. This is actually an excerpt from a book called Great By Choice. A book written by Jim Collins. And this is a wonderful concept, and perhaps something that will help you understand maybe a way to approach 2022 if perhaps 2021 maybe didn’t go the way you wanted it to, or you fell short on some goals. I know a lot of you, I’ve heard from many of you that you’ve absolutely smashed the goals that you set out for yourself. In fact, a lot of you have been given opportunities that you didn’t even know were going to happen because of some of the stuff that we’re going to be understanding here in this story.

Pat Flynn: So this is a concept called the 20 Mile March. And again, this is an excerpt, a positioning or a thought inside of a book called Great by Choice by Jim Collins. I highly recommend you check it out, but this is an excerpt for you. So here we go.

Pat Flynn: “Imagine you’re standing with your feet in the Pacific Ocean in San Diego, California, looking inland.” And yes, it actually does say San Diego, California, which is really cool, because that’s where I live. So anyway, “Imagine you’re standing with your feet in the Pacific Ocean in San Diego, California looking inland. Looking east. You’re about to embark on a 3000 mile walk from San Diego to the tip of Maine. On the first day, you march 20 miles, making it out of town. On the second day, you march 20 miles. And again, on the third day, you March 20 miles heading into the heat of the desert. It’s hot, more than 100 degrees, and you want to rest in the cool of your tent, but you don’t. You get up and you march 20 miles. You keep the pace. 20 miles a day.

Pat Flynn: “Then the weather cools and you’re in comfortable conditions with the wind at your back. And you could go much farther, but you hold back, modulating your effort. You stick with your 20 miles. Then you reach the Colorado High Mountains and you get hit by snow, wind, and temperatures below zero. And all you want to do is stay in your tent. But you get up, you get dressed. You march your 20 miles, you keep up the effort. 20 miles, 20 miles, 20 miles. Then you cross into the plains and it’s glorious spring time and you can go 40 or 50 miles in a day, but you don’t. You sustain your pace marching 20 miles. And eventually you get to Maine.

Pat Flynn: “Now imagine another person who starts out with you on the same day in San Diego. He gets all excited by the journey and logs 40 miles the first day. Exhausted from his first gigantic day, he wakes up to 100 degree temperatures. He decides to hang out until the weather cools, thinking, ‘I’ll make it up when conditions improve.’ He maintains this pattern. Big days with good conditions, whining and waiting in his tent on bad days, as he moves across the western United States. Just before the Colorado High Mountains, he gets a spate of great weather and goes all out, logging 40 to 50 mile days to make up for lost ground. But then he hits a huge winter storm, and then utterly exhausted, it nearly kills him, and he hunkers down in tent waiting for spring. When spring finally comes, he emerges weakened, and stumbles off toward Maine. By the time he enters Kansas City, you with your relentless 20 mile March have already reached the tip of Maine. You win by a huge margin.

Pat Flynn: “Some people believe that a world characterized by radical change and disruptive forces no longer favors those who engage in consistent 20 mile marching. Yet the great irony is that when we examined this type of out of control fast-paced environment, we found that every 10X company exemplified the 20 mile march principle during the era we studied. Now, you might be wondering, ‘But wait a minute, you’re confusing things here. Perhaps 10X companies could afford to behave this way because they were so successful and dominant. Perhaps 20 mile marching is a result of success. A luxury of success, not a driver of success.’ But the evidence shows that 10X companies embrace a 20 mile march early, long before they were big companies. Furthermore, every comparison company failed to mile march with anything close to the consistency shown by 10X cases. In fact, this is one of the strongest contrasts in our study.

Pat Flynn: “Having a clear 20 mile march focuses the mind, because everyone on the team knows the markers and their importance. They can stay on track. 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.”

Pat Flynn: This is me again now. And again, definitely make sure to check out Great By Choice. And this is again, the 20 Mile March. There’s been a lot of chaos in our lives recently, and it has definitely thrown a lot of us off the path. A lot of us have been hunkered down in our tents, if you will, waiting for springtime. The weather to be good again. And this is just a little note, a little boost of inspiration, maybe a little revelation for you to help you realize that no matter the conditions, obviously make sure you’re healthy and stay healthy. Don’t do anything unsafe, but to the point of the analogy, you got to keep going, and march that 20 miles a day.

Pat Flynn: Now, your version of 20 miles is not going to be a hike. You’re not going to be met with snow. And you’re also not going to be welcomed with a warm sun in the morning every time. You have to determine what defines your 20 mile march, and if you have a team, you’ll want to have them understand this as well, but you march on. You March on. And what’s interesting about this excerpt is the fact that even though you could keep going, you just remain consistent, and don’t overwork yourself, which is again, the opposite problem. We’ve all heard, and perhaps we’ve all experienced that as well. Burnout. It’s a real thing.

Pat Flynn: So anyway, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah. And I want to wish you and your families, no matter what you celebrate, no matter what religion you are, no matter what anything you are, I love you, I appreciate you. Thank you for listening to this episode and any other episodes of the Smart Passive Income podcast. And I appreciate you being a part of this family. So take care, enjoy the day, and we’ll see you next week. Peace out.

Pat Flynn: Thanks for listening to the Smart Passive Income Podcast at I’m your host, Pat Flynn. Our senior producer is Sara Jane Hess, our series producer is David Grabowski, and our executive producer is Matt Gartland. Sound editing by Duncan Brown. The Smart Passive Income Podcast is a production of SPI Media. We’ll catch you in the next session.

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