The 20-foot Goal

By MG John Gronski (USA, Ret,)

I love to go on trail runs. I find a great deal of enjoyment in going on runs in the mountains of Pennsylvania on hiking trails and single-track paths.

A few weeks ago, I was on one such run. I was at around mile four and found myself about to tackle an extremely steep climb that I knew would go on for at least a mile. It was unseasonably warm that day as I started up the grade, but my goal was to continue to run and not stop.

The Goal

My goal was clear. I wanted to continue to run up the steep mile-long grade without stopping even though the lactic acid which engulfed my quadriceps set my legs on fire. Because the mile climb was daunting, I began to pick out trees or bushes about 50 feet ahead of me. I would set these intermediate goals which seemed to be attainable.

By the time I reached the halfway point, I adjusted my intermediate goals down to around 20 feet. As I made it up the slope to a tree about twenty feet ahead of me, I would quickly find another object twenty feet further up the trail.

Before I knew it, I was getting closer and closer to the top of that steep rocky hill. That is when I saw a mountain bike rider in front of me. That fat-tired cyclist appeared to be struggling worse than I was and was moving up the hill very slowly. Within about 50 yards I ran up behind the mountain biker and passed him out.

An Accountability Partner

This is when my incentive for continuing to run up that hill was elevated to a new height. Now I had this guy on the mountain bike watching me as I passed him by. There was no way I could stop now. He was holding me accountable. Having someone holding you accountable is a very powerful motivation.

Well, I did make it to the top of the hill without giving up. I finished up the run after a few more miles and I felt good about my humble accomplishment. As I was walking down a path in the woods cooling down after the long, tough run I heard a tree fall right alongside the trail where I had been walking. I took this as a sign that God was with me. Through God’s mercy, He protected me from the falling tree, and through God’s grace He gave me the strength and determination to complete the difficult run.

A Lesson Learned

I learned a lesson that day in the woods. A lesson of what it takes to persevere to achieve a goal. It comes down to three things:

  1. Once you set a goal break it down into more easily digestible chunks. You should certainly have a long-range goal but be careful to break that long-range goal down into shorter intermediate goals. Call them your 20-foot goals. There is an old saying which says the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.
  2. Tell someone you trust about the goal you set. Ask that trusted advisor to help you be accountable in achieving the steps necessary to reach the goal. Accountability partners could make all the difference in accomplishing what you set out to achieve.
  3. Ask your Higher Power for the mercy and grace necessary for you to reach your goal. Through Jesus Christ all things are possible. Why walk alone when you can walk with God? Say a prayer. Visualize your goal. Set aside any negative thoughts and believe you can accomplish what you set out to do.

About John Gronski

Major General John L. Gronski (U.S. Army Retired) is the founder and CEO of Leader Grove LLC, a leadership consulting firm. John is the author of two books, “Iron-Sharpened Leadership” and “The Ride of Our Lives” and he is an international and Fortune 500 speaker.

A decorated combat Veteran, infantryman, and Ranger School graduate, John is a transformational leader and has significant experience in business as a management consultant, where he led teams implementing large, complex projects. He now serves as an executive coach, leadership consultant, and trainer.

Learn more about John Gronski at  https://johngronski.com/

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