What matters the most to be successful in internal auditing — Brilliance or Consistency?

What matters the most to be successful in internal auditing — Brilliance or Consistency? Before we answer that, here is one more question to answer first.

“What is your 20 mile march?” You may be asking what the 20 mile march is. Let me tell you.

Some days back, I was reading about a real life story that happened in 1911. It was about the adventure Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott set out upon. The adventure was to be the first person to reach the South Pole. Both Amundsen and Scott set out at the same time. Both were ruthless hardworking never-say-die attitude adventurers. But, only one group of explorers returned. Scott failed while Amundsen succeeded. I was intrigued. I was perplexed. My curiosity was kindled. I wanted to know what made Amundsen accomplish the mission while Scott failed.

Subsequently, I learnt that Scott was said to have let the weather decide when they should move. Some days they would push great distances, others they would not move at all. In the end, it is believed that this is what caused the death of his whole expedition team.

Amundsen, on the other hand, had a focus. He had a game plan. He had a strategy. He planned to go 20 miles every day. No matter the weather or how the team felt, they were to go the 20 miles. Amundsen returned with all men in his expedition team alive.

“I may say that this is the greatest factor—the way in which the expedition is equipped—the way in which every difficulty is foreseen, and precautions taken for meeting or avoiding it. Victory awaits him who has everything in order — luck, people call it. Defeat is certain for him who has neglected to take the necessary precautions in time; this is called bad luck.” – from The South Pole”, by ‘Roald Amundsen’

This is where the principle of the 20 mile march germinates. Staying focused and being consistent every day. It would be interesting to note that the ‘20 mile march’ is a term first coined by Jim Collins in his latest book “Great by Choice”.

For you, the 20 mile march may not be literal. But, it could be symbolic. The 20 mile march will be an objective you have set for yourself.

Your 20 mile march could be:

  • Studying 30/45/60 minutes for C.I.A/C.I.S.A/ C.I.S.S.P examination everyday
  • Reading 20 pages of Fraud Examiners Manual everyday
  • Praying/Meditating 30/60 minutes every day
  • Reading at least one article about ‘Internal audit’ to learn something new everyday
  • And, anything on a daily basis!!!

Regardless of what your march is, it is important that you are consistent.

When your journey looks terrifying, go the 20 miles.

When you are worn-out, go the 20 miles.

When you want to give up, go the 20 miles.

Whether you are happy or sad, go the 20 miles.

Whether you are in cloud nine or in ground zero, go the 20 miles.

Come what may, just ……………… go the 20 miles.

When you break the consistency, you make the subsequent days more taxing. You have to catch-up things. You have to work harder than before. You have to beware of lagging further behind. To take your productivity to the next stage, you could experiment and put into action this principle.

I believe each of us will be having a vision, a goal. We all want to accomplish it. But every time we start our journey, we get hit by a setback. We need to move forward but we do not know how.

The key is we need a 20 mile march in our life.

One example from my personal life. During my schooling, I was a student with average intelligence. When I enrolled myself for Chartered Accountancy course, (touted as one of the toughest examinations in my country with a meager pass percentage) many laughed at me. I was ridiculed for the ‘dumb’ step I had taken in my career. Making their hunch true, I was struggling initially. I was not able to clear my Intermediate examination in my first attempt. At that juncture, I felt that it is essential to change my strategy. I started reading my lessons regularly on a daily basis. I tried to be more consistent in my preparation. In the end, that approach yielded fruits. I succeeded. I realized that consistency pays off. As I was able to apply this principle and succeed, I believe so can you.

If you do not have a 20 mile march, today I encourage you to create one.

Now, I believe everyone will be able to answer the first question. Remember, as Amundsen puts it, “Victory awaits him who has everything in order”.

Question: Do you agree with me? Please share them by leaving a comment to this post. I welcome your thoughts.

(For further reading, you can refer to the following resource from the business journal of McKinsey & Company:

Dan O’Brien. “In the long run, consistency always wins out: An interview with Olympic decathlon champion.” McKinsey Quarterly, August 2012)


1 Response to “What matters the most to be successful in internal auditing — Brilliance or Consistency?”

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