I read in Jim Collin’s book Great by Choice of two explorers in a race to reach the South Pole in the early 1900s.
Team A would take advantage of good weather and travel 40 miles in a single day. But then they would take a couple days off to recover. If bad weather came, they would take those days off too. Then when good weather came again, they would go extreme and travel another 40 miles or so.
Team B had an entirely different approach. They would travel 20 miles a day, no matter what the weather did. On bad weather days they would resist the temptation to take the day off. On good weather days they would resist the temptation to keep going further than their set goal of twenty miles a day. Day in and day out, regardless of the weather, they stayed faithful to their twenty mile march.
If you’ve ever read the story of the tortoise and the hare, you can probably guess who won. Team B absolutely and unequivacally crushed Team A.
I personally identified with this story because I am often tempted to approach my goals like the people on Team A. For example, I set out one year to read 100 books. In the beginning of the year when I was super motivated to accomplish my goal I read and read and read. Every free minute of every day I was reading and I quickly knocked out twenty books or so. But then when I lost motivation (“bad weather came”) I took some time off. When my motivation returned, I would read furiously. I thought I was doing good by capitalizing on the times when I was motivated to read. But now I see the folly of not limiting how much I read even when I felt like reading more. Just as Team A couldn’t keep up 40 miles a day, I couldn’t keep up reading three books a week. I would’ve come closer to accomplishing my goal of 100 books had I committed to two books a week and restrained myself on those weeks where I was motivated to read even more. Because I didn’t, I quickly burned out and didn’t reach even half my goal for that year.
The saying is true: slow and steady wins the race. Here’s what I’m learning:
- It’s better to workout for 30 minutes Monday through Thursday than to do 60 minutes on Monday and then take the rest of the week off.
- It’s better to use all of my daily allotment of calories each day (but no more) than to come 700 calories under on Monday and then pig out the rest of the week.
- It’s better to read a chapter a week on how to be a better preacher than one whole book the first week of January and then nothing else the rest of the year.