The Extra Mile

9 Keys to Business & Career Success has as one of its points:

The extra mile is a vast, unpopulated wasteland.

This past week, I went through a High Adventure scouting trek with my son and scouts and adults from troop 162, in Bisset, Manitoba, Canada. During this week-long canoe trip in the wilderness, we canoed through 50 miles of lakes, streams, traversed up beaver dams. It included portages you have to carry canoes and heav gear packs over land to the next lake or stream. After a terOn Sunday, our crew had it’s final and biggest portage challenge, aptly called “heartbreak”.

Heartbreak is a mile long, of mud, muck, and swamp. It started like other partages, carrying the 70lb pack on a narrow but dry trail, but after a 1/4 mile, the trail became swamp. It looked easy enough to put the packs in the canoe, then walk into the swamp water to pull the canoe. So long as you don’t mind the leeches that is. But then swamp water turned to thick mud. In parts, you are up to your hip in mud as thick as molasses as you attempt to drag the canoe along the trail. Dragging a heavily laden canoe becomes Herculean, so after several hundred yards of that, we pulled packs out again, put them on our backs and headed forward, using side paths to avoid the main sinkhole swamp that was the main ‘trail’. I got to a point where downed trees were blocking the whole path, decided to go off trail into the off-trail drier forest. Eventually, not sure where I was but knowing I had to head back around to the trail, I ended up walking through a swampy thicket of bushes, fighting each step and trying no to fall into deep water … and made it to the trailhead. Then four or so trips back to get more things and help others get to the end. A crewmate took the canoe off-trail to the edge of the lake around the bend from the trailhead, so they took another canoe on the lake to retreive it.

After over two hours of effort, we did it. Heartbreak was our extra mile.

Lessons from the extra-mile: You will find it hard slog; it won’t be easy; you will lose your way; you will fall and have use every ounce of energy to get back up; you will make mistakes that make it harder; you will need your wits and your strength when both are fraying; you will want it to be over before it is. And then it will be, and you will be glad for what you did and that it’s done.

I am glad we did heartbreak, if only to remind me when I face a difficult challenge that daunting tasks are often the ones most worth doing. As the saying goes:

The difficult we can do immediately. The impossible may take a little time.

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