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Lengthen Your Stride

Strategically Speaking
May 8, 2013

Brandon Kunz Author: Brandon Kunz,

Several years ago I participated in a hiking trip with a group of boy scouts to a lake not too far from where we lived. The hike occurred over several days and was a lot of fun. Two or three other leaders were there with me, and I remember one of them hiking behind me during part of the trip.

Later, when we discussed with the boys around the fire what they had learned during the hike and how it could apply to their daily lives, that particular leader offered up a “life’s lesson” as an example. He explained that when hiking behind me he noticed that I had longer legs than he did. He isn’t a particularly short guy, but I’m a little bit taller and happen to have long legs. He told the boys that it appeared clear to him that with longer legs I was able to travel just a little bit further than he did; each and every step of the way. Perhaps the difference was only an inch or so with each step, but the cumulative result was such that it was difficult for him to keep up.

He explained to the boys that by “lengthening our stride” in our responsibilities in daily life and doing just a little bit more, but doing so consistently, “with each step,” we would travel much further and faster and accomplish so much more in life.

Sometimes we can become overwhelmed thinking we need to make major investments in time and effort to do something; that a task or desire is just too far out of reach.  Yet, many times the same task or desire can be realized by breaking it up into manageable chunks and applying a conscious and consistent effort to do just a little bit more each day.

In one’s personal life that might be reading 3 - 4 more pages a day, which would equate to over a thousand pages in learning each year, 3 - 4 worthwhile books.  Running a few miles, three times a week equates to over 450 miles a year, enough to wear out a good pair of running shoes.  Watching one-half hour less TV each night equates to about 15 hours of time saved each month, almost two full work days.  100 fewer calories a day equals a 10 pound loss each year (or 10 pounds not gained).

At NACHA this past week, reference was made to the saying; “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” 

I think the first challenge is to determine which is the right elephant.  The next challenge is to determine where to begin.  Then you have to keep after it, day after day, week after week, until the goal is realized regardless of the challenges or obstacles that present themselves. 

Proper planning, “lean” thinking, and the help of experienced consultants and mentors can help drive value earlier in the process and save missteps.  For example, the Alogent group within ProfitStars works in an iterative, two-week development work cycle.  At the end of each cycle we have the opportunity to see progress made toward each of our goals.  On a periodic basis we are able to show that progress to key clients and use their feedback to determine whether to persevere or make adjustments.  As components are created that deliver discrete value they can be released to market.  That structure has served us very well, for many years, and has helped us apply our talents and our abilities on a consistent, ongoing basis to improving our solution offerings for the benefit of our clients.

And every once in a while, we get a chance to stop at the proverbial campfire, reflect, and realize that while we may have a long way to go, we’ve already accomplished much.  Then, we get to determine what to tackle next and keep after it, day after day, week after week, doing just a little bit more each day, traveling further and faster.

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