11 More Steps

Dec 20, 2019

This time last year, two men individually attempted to become the first person to complete a solo, unsupported and unaided trek across Antarctica. For almost two months, these intrepid explorers pulled all of their gear across very lonely terrain for 10 – 12 hours per day. While they both accomplished this amazing feat, only one of them could be “first”.

This is a story about the other guy.

One of the explorers, Louis Rudd, said whenever he felt like stopping, he marched an extra 11 steps before setting up camp. When I first read that, I thought: “Huh. What’s 11 more steps?” Turns out, it’s EVERYTHING.

Rudd is thinking of an expedition in 1912, when two teams competed to see who would reach the South Pole first. An English team, led by Robert Falcon Scott, not only failed to reach the Pole, they subsequently perished. It was once calculated, Rudd explained, that if that team had taken 11 more steps each day on their expedition, they would have survived.

Is that true? I don’t know. But it could be, which really speaks to the power of small-seeming efforts and how every little bit adds up. 

It reminds me of my track coach in high school who said every mile we ran was money in the bank. Alone, one mile isn’t a lot. Neither is 11 more steps. But combined all those miles and steps can make a huge difference in whether we’re successful or not.

So what’s your version of 11 more steps? Can you make one more phone call? Type one more email? Plan one more meeting? They all add up.

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