Paste your Google Webmaster Tools verification code here

Leaders Know Their Line and When to Quit

Leaders Know Their Line and When to Quit

What Are You Not Willing To Do To Achieve Your Goals?

You may have thought about new goals lately but have you thought about what you are not willing to do to achieve those goals? What’s your provable line in the sand that you will not cross?

January is often a time for goal setting. You have a new year in front of you, a clean slate of possibility, promise and prosperity. There are many reasons to set goals, they keep us focused and targeted towards what we want to achieve in our lives.

Goal setting guru Michael Hayatt lists these 5 reasons for setting goals:

  1. Because it will force you to clarify what you want.
  2. Because it will motivate you to take action.
  3. Because it will provide a filter for other opportunities.
  4. Because it will help you overcome resistance.
  5. Because it will enable you to see and celebrate your progress.

In goal setting, it is important you write out SMART goals. They must be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Timely  


While I agree that making sure your goals are SMART will help you write better goals, there is one letter or word that should be added. That’s L for Line as in knowing the line you will not cross to achieve your goals. Perhaps the L is left out because it is not a pretty acronym, so let’s call them SMART L goals.

Know Your Ultimate Goal

Shawn Stratton

Mt. Logan © Shawn Stratton

The topic of Knowing Your Line came up recently in a keynote I was giving on crisis management. I was sharing the story of my experience climbing Canada’s highest mountain, Mt. Logan in the Yukon Territory. With a 25-mile circumference and located near the Arctic Circle, Mt. Logan is considered the largest and coldest mountain in the world.

As I recount in my book TEAMS ON THE EDGE, after years of dreaming about the climb, a year of planning, thousands of dollars spent, and 21 days of climbing, I ended up turning around 500 feet below the 19,551-foot summit. On our last potential day to reach the summit, a massive storm had engulfed us causing a white out snowstorm with furious winds and temperatures going below – 50o.

As we climbed towards the summit, the storm grew and had reached our ‘line’. Our goal was to reach the top of Canada, the summit of Mt. Logan, but we were not willing to Cross The Line that would cause us to face a level of risk we felt we could no longer manage. Why is that?

Because you see our ultimate goal was to get home safe and sound. Our ultimate goal that day of climbing towards the summit was to safely return to our tents. At 3 pm, with the storm raging around us we knew we had reached the line we were not willing to cross. To reach our goal of reaching the peak of Mt. Logan, we had to cross our line and this is where a true leader knows, it is time to quit and turn around!

Shawn Stratton

© Shawn Stratton

Leaders Know Their Line

Knowing when to ‘turn around’ can be just as important as persevering to reach your goal. Too many times we associate the word ‘quitting’ and anything familiar with it as negative connotations. When it comes to striving to achieve your goals, these are the words that may save your marriage, your job, your business, your health and potentially your life. With every goal you write – Know Your Line!

Has knowing your line ever saved you? Was there ever a time when quitting was the best decision you made? Share your story in the comments below.