The 20 Mile March

Last Tuesday I went to see Jim Collins speak at ExCel and after four hours came away with 23 pages of notes. So over the next few weeks expect quite a lot of information, insight, ideas and inspiration courtesy of the author of “Good to Great”, “Built to Last”, “Great by Choice” and my own favourite, “Beyond Entrepreneurship”.

One of the many questions Collins posed, (and he asked hundreds), was “what does your 20 mile march look like?” Using a route as a metaphor for business he suggested there are two options:

1. On good days with the sun shining but not too warm, the wind at your back but not too strong, you might say, “I’ll march 30 miles today”, whereas on cold, wet days with a gale in your face you adjust to say “I’ll only walk 10 miles today and catch up when the weather is better.”

2. You get up and say “I’m marching 20 miles today whatever the weather, whatever the conditions, just as I do every single day regardless.”

Collins clearly subscribes to option 2. He feels strongly that “you must exert self control in a world that’s out of control” and one of the key traits he has identified, using the most rigorous research, that is common to leaders of “Great” companies, is “fanatical discipline”. This is illustrated by the 20 mile march option 2.

He expanded to say the best companies he’s observed have a disciplined culture of disciplined people with disciplined thought and disciplined action. He then said, “if you are truly disciplined then you will be a non-conformist.”

I found myself thinking about some of the great leaders I’ve worked for and with over the years and at this point Dale Norton, founder of Romans came to my mind a lot. Dale relentlessly pursued the growth of his business with fanatical discipline. His belief was that winners are those who get more things done so he, and his brilliant team, would march 20 miles every day and would ignore the weather.

If you know Dale then you’ll agree that he’s also a complete non-conformist – and now I get why. You see the majority of people let “events” dictate their mood and their performance, “if it wasn’t for stamp duty increases/brexit/tenant fees/(insert your own event here)/ we’d have had a good year” whereas those who march 20 miles every day adapt themselves to meet their declared goal, they confront their brutal reality and ultimately they defy the odds with their consistency.

Dale is one of the Property Academy’s Trusted Advisors and members will have the chance to work with him and learn directly how he built a £55million estate agency from scratch at our members day in July. If you’d like to become a member then get in touch.

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