Lessons learned from Lejog – stretch goals

After cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats, Les Jones explains some of the lessons he learned along the way.

I have recently completed the challenge of cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats (Lejog).

I did it with four great mates from the dental sector – Chris Barrow, Sheila Scott, Ashley Latter and Simon Tucker.

We went under the banner of ‘Fivegoforth’.

It was tough…really tough, but it was also exhilarating, enjoyable and hugely rewarding.

In essence, it was a project, much like any other project, and it got me thinking about the key lessons I learned along the way that could be applied to your business.

So, I’m here to share these with you over a series of short blogs.

A stretch goal helps you achieve more than you think is possible

First thing’s first – what’s a stretch goal?

Well, for me, it’s any goal that cannot be achieved simply by doing what you currently do…a bit better.

So many businesses will set future goals based on past performance plus a bit.

Which results in the people within those businesses staying firmly within their comfort zones, and just working a little harder or smarter – fundamentally, nothing different happens.

A stretch goal changes that dynamic, completely.

It forces you to think and act differently in order to make it happen.

It’s where step change replaces incremental improvement.

It requires commitment and creativity, passion and planning.

But when it all comes together, it can change your life and transform your business.

‘Fair-weather cyclist’

By anyone’s definition, cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats is a stretch goal…it’s 1,000 miles of tough and challenging cycling.

I’m a bit of a fair-weather cyclist – I get out now and then (generally, spontaneously, when the sun is shining) to cycle 25-30 miles.

If I’d set myself the goal of improving that to 35-40 miles, would I have done anything different?

No, I would just leave a little earlier and cycle a little longer.

Cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats was a different kettle of fish.

It needed a higher level of commitment, it needed planning and it needed a new approach to how I cycle.

Stretch goals, by their very nature, are scary – if you set a goal and your first reaction is…‘how the hell are we going to do that?’

Then, congratulations…you’ve got yourself a stretch goal.

That’s how I felt when Ashley Latter approached me to do Lejog – how on earth was I going to move from an occasional, fair-weather 25-miler to cycling 65-80 miles a day for 15 days in a row?

I had no idea, but that’s the beauty of a stretch goal – it excites you and you start to look for ways to make it happen.

That’s what we did as a team, we collectively worked out how we could rise to and achieve the challenge.

We came up with strategies to raise sponsorship funds for the ride, we committed to raising funds for three chosen charities, we brought people in to drive and man a support vehicle for the whole trip, we took advice on training schedules and what kit we needed and…we started getting out on our bikes more regularly, even when we weren’t up for it or the wind was blowing – the stretch goal changed the way we thought, the way we behaved and the level of our commitment and performance.

By the time we arrived at the start line, we were ready and prepared.

Fifteen days later, we all crossed the finish line at John O’Groats.

That’s the power of setting a stretch goal.

You can still sponsor the Fivegoforth team, just head over to the donations page.

Read some of the other lessons from Lejog:

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