So often in our lives success is right within our reach. We can smell it. We can almost taste it.
But it eludes us because of one small thing.
A Slow and Steady Journey
You may or may not know about Roald Admundsen, the first person to make it to the South Pole. There were several people who tried. Roald and his team were the first to succeed.
To do this, the team with their sleds and provisions advanced about 5-6 hours a day, covering fifteen nautical miles, or approximately one degree of latitude. This was a consistent amount they covered daily. If the weather was good, they went fifteen nautical miles. If the weather was bad, they went fifteen nautical miles. Every day was consistent forward progress.
Robert Falcon Scott led another team and tried to go much further on good days and not at all on bad days. They had new vehicles to go faster, new ideas to go farther, and excitement they expected would carry them through. But as the day-to-day kept pushing them back and ruining their plans, they encountered defeat after defeat and didn’t keep pace.
An Easy Thing
I don’t care how much you’ve struggled with a healthier diet, if I told you to eat only fruits and vegetables for five minutes, you would have no problem with it. It wouldn’t be a challenge for even thirty. In fact, I bet almost every person who has ever tried to eat a better diet has made it a full day eating like a champ. It’s not been an issue.
Doing the right thing is easy. It’s one of the easiest things to do. When the mood hits, it’s easy to jump in on a new gym membership and go in. The adrenaline is pumping. The excitement is overwhelming. We’re having fun, and it’s all we can do to keep from lifting every weight in the place.
It’s easy to be a kinder, more generous person. We have no problem smiling at the barista or complementing the person beside us on the bus. When we decide we are going to be more positive and encouraging, the world takes a different hue. The birds are singing; the flowers are blooming. And all day long we feel like we are doing God’s work.
Unfortunately for our enthusiasm, one day does not a habit make.
The One Thing
Robert Falcon Scott was energized and excited to make it to the South Pole. He had new equipment and new ideas. He was ready to get there and get there fast!
But as his gear broke and his plans unraveled he began to slow. As the weather beat him down, he stayed down, moving less and less each day and sometimes just standing still. Sadly, his team perished in their pursuit of The Pole.
Tom Peters, a well respected author and leader in business management said “Excellence is not an aspiration. Excellence is what you do in the next five minutes.”
Life has granted us the possibility of being who we want to be in the next five minutes. We have the willpower to do what we want to do in the next five minutes. The thing that trips us up has never been about this five minutes; it’s always been about the string of five minute timeframes that follow.
The thing that keeps us from success is not that we can’t do it. The one thing that keeps us from success is that we struggle to continue to do it all consistently.
If you want to be successful, you have to get out of the future and get into the now. You have to avoid thinking about how hard it will be to exercise every day this month. You have to tell yourself how easy it will be to pack your bag tonight. Then tell yourself how easy it will be to hop in the car tomorrow. Then tell yourself how easy it will be to hop on the treadmill.
You don’t have to run a 5k. You just need to walk. You just need to do it consistently. You just need to build a habit. And to build a habit you just look at the task in front of you. This is the way to change your life. This is the way to keep your life on track. This is the way to make strong, consistent progress. The tortoise won while the hare failed because of strong, consistent progress.
We can do what it takes to be successful. There is one thing that keeps us from success. We can overcome it if we simply focus on the task at hand and make our world brighter, and more successful than we ever thought possible.