The $10 Bet
"The Extra-Mile is most often the road less travelled."
In the spring of grade 9, basketball was my obsession. I was eager to enter high school, and wanted to make the senior basketball team as a grade 10 freshman. In Alberta, high school was grades 10 thru 12. I knew, as a point guard, that I would need to be in top shape, so...I made my older brother a bet.
I would run 3-miles every day, for one year. Now, running was not something I particularly enjoyed. Of course, my brother took the bet, for $10. Together we mapped out the 3-mile route in our mom’s Camaro. I purchased a large 2x3 poster board and drew a 12-month calendar with 365 squares. I also bought several packages of sticker dots – in green and red. I would use these to mark green for ‘accomplished’, and red for ‘missed’. I had a cassette alarm clock and recorded Supertramp’s ‘Even in the Quietest Moments', as my wake-up song. I put my Brooks Vantage shoes beside my bed, I set my alarm for 7 am – and began to take the first steps.
I ran through the Spring, Summer and Fall, without missing a day. I ran through volleyball season, making the senior team. As winter and basketball season arrived it was getting more difficult to run in the -20-degree chill of central Alberta, but I kept going. The poster board was a sea of green.
One morning, I remember like yesterday, we had freezing rain. I took a few strides and fell hard on my tailbone. I got up but kept slipping, falling 2-3 more times before I made it to the end of my block. I was in some pain but mostly hurting because I knew it was over, and I decided to turn around. I remember crying on the slow shuffle back. I took out the package of unopened red dots and stuck one on the poster. I went upstairs and admitted to my brother, having breakfast in the kitchen, that I had not completed my run. To my surprise, he said that he “would pay me the $10” despite winning the bet, as he did not think I would come close to reaching my goal. I believe I ran something in the area of 250 days in a row, or about 750 miles of extra work to supplement my regular sports training.
Did I hit my target? I made the senior team which was my ‘outcome goal’. I did not hit my ‘process goal’ of completing 1-year without a miss. I was awarded the 1981 LCHS basketball MVP in that rookie season as a grade 10 student.
The 6-Step Approach
I didn’t know it that Spring as a fourteen year old, but if I look back, The $10 Bet had all the elements needed for setting a target and achieving it. The Target: to make the senior basketball team. The Tactic: I would run 3-miles each day to build superior endurance. The Techniques: The route mapped, the ritual of the wake-up song, the shoes laid out the night before. The Team: My brother to encourage me. The Time: Daily 7 am. The Tracking: The green and red poster board (I do regret not keeping it).
I have continued to set written goals throughout my life. I guess the alternative is to simply ‘hope for the best’. Something magical happens when we make our goals real, perhaps through a method like The 6-Step Approach, or many others. Of course, you must still step out the front door.
We share a very simple template with our student-athletes outlining The 6-Step Approach, including some blank pages for its application. It can be used for setting targets however large or small. Feel free to contact me at email@example.com if you would like me to forward you a pdf copy. Happy goal-getting :)