1400 Gables Ct #103 Plano, TX 75075
5601 Bridge Street, #300, Ft. Worth, TX 76112

What is the 20 Mile March? Dallas Business Lawyer Explores a Powerful Concept You Should Know

Dallas business lawyer, Richard “Ric” Armstrong, explains a popular business concept and how it can help you greatly as you expand your reach.

In his bestselling book, “Great by Choice,” author Jim Collins — in collaboration with a group of esteemed business researchers — sought to answer the following essential question: why do some businesses thrive in times of uncertainty, while others do not?

Collins and his team analyzed a handful of companies that performed 10 times better than others during times of economic downturn. We often hear that innovation and bold-risk taking can make all the difference in the business world. Collins and his group found another quality helped these companies thrive: discipline.

Researchers dubbed these dogged companies “10Xers” and found they all had one thing in common: these companies made goals and stuck to them. They called this approach the “20 Mile March” – a steady progression no matter the obstacles.

Here’s how Collins describes this mechanism — what it is and why it works:

“Imagine you’re standing with your feet in the Pacific Ocean in San Diego, looking inland. You’re about to embark on a 3,000-mile walk, from San Diego to the tip of Maine. On the first day you march 20 miles, making it out of town. On the second day you march 20 miles. And again, on the third day you march 20 miles, heading into the heat of the desert. It’s hot, more than 100˚F, and you want to rest in the cool of your tent. But you don’t. You get up and you march 20 miles… You keep the pace, 20 miles a day. And eventually, you get to Maine…

Now, imagine another person who starts out with you on the same day in San Diego. He gets all excited by the journey and logs 40 miles the first day. Exhausted from his first gigantic day, he wakes up to 100˚ temperatures. He decides to hang out until the weather cools, thinking, “I’ll make it up when conditions improve.” He maintains this pattern — big days with good conditions, whining and waiting in his tent on bad days — as he moves across the western United States. Just before the Colorado high mountains, he gets a spate of great weather and he goes all out, logging 40- to 50-mile days to make up lost ground. But then he hits a huge winter storm when utterly exhausted. It nearly kills him and he hunkers down in his tent, waiting for spring. When spring finally comes, he emerges, weakened, and stumbles off toward Maine. By the time he enters Kansas City, you, with your relentless 20-mile march, have already reached the tip of Maine. You win, by a huge margin.”

Southwest Airlines, for example, aimed to turn a profit every year and set a distinct company culture in the airline world. The airline industry suffered numerous setbacks in the wake of 9/11 and the recession. Southwest stayed true to its goal, though, no matter the obstacles. It has been in the black for over three decades. The airline has never furloughed an employee.

How do you make your 20 Mile March? Start with SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Phased. Create clear performance markers. Follow through. Most importantly, it should create two kinds of discomfort:

  1. It should force you to stretch during hard times to reach your goals.
  2. It should force you to brake the momentum during good times to avoid growing too fast and too out of control.

Is your business ready for the 20 Mile March? Contact our Dallas business attorneys at Armstrong The Law Firm, P.C. to learn how to achieve all your company’s goals.


Richard Armstrong, Principal

Richard L. Armstrong Principal



Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Latest Posts


Armstrong The Law Firm, P.C.
Plano Location
1400 Gables Ct #103
Plano, TX 75075

Fort Worth Location (By Appointment Only)
5601 Bridge Street, Ste. 300
Ft. Worth, Texas 76112

Phone: (972) 424-5297