Going the extra mile
We have all heard the expression going the extra mile. In my conferences when I talk about
the principle that successful people are willing to do things that unsuccessful
people are not willing to do, what I am really saying is that successful people
go the extra mile.
I was wondering where the concept came from and much to my surprise I learned that it
originated in first century Palestine.
During those times the Romans were the imperialists and they had conquered most of the
world, ruling it from the viewpoint of the iron hand. In fact, by law, a Roman soldier had the
right to ask an inhabitant of any of the conquered territories to carry his
back pack for him one mile, but only one mile.
The Israelites were offended by that law and hated the brutal and despotic rule of
the Roman empire but they would obey the law so as not to be arrested. The
catch was that they would only go one mile, not a foot more. The
Hebrew’s also followed many laws that were based on the Ten Commandments and
other laws they thought the lord had given them. To all these laws many more cultural rules and
rituals were added and the most dedicated leaders lived trying to follow them
to the letter. They followed the one mile law and that was it, not an inch more.
According to Mathew 5:41 when Jesus spoke to his followers in the Sermon on the Mount, he
said “ If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles”.
He was obviously referring to the Roman law that required them to go one mile and even
though the law was resented by them all, he was telling them that not only
should they obey the law but go even further and do it happily. Lots of people
certainly didn’t like this suggestion.
This concept of going the extra mile has evolved through the centuries and it now
means to live above the benchmark, treating people with benevolence, deference
and consideration regardless of what they are entitled to. In other words, it is not enough to do only
what is requested or required. In order to find real happiness and success in
our lives, we should give charitably of ourselves beyond what is expected of
Going the extra mile as a philosophy is not based on logic, feelings or emotions but on
the only thing we can all control: choice.
We can choose to act out of affection or appreciation for others, not because they are
entitled to it, not because it is demanded of us and not even because we feel
like it, but simply because it is our philosophy, what guides us, what makes us
The principle of going the extra mile could totally transform our society, now,
when it is needed the most.
It involves aiming for excellence and finding pride and satisfaction in the process. Doing
more than what is expected, taking total control of one’s life by the conscious,
mindful act of giving extra time, energy, resources, as our contribution not
because we are required to do so but because we have made the conscious choice
to do so.
Let’s look at a few examples in the real world:
You take your car to be serviced at your auto dealership and when you pick it up, it is
sparkling clean because the dealer went the extra mile and cleaned it.
Imagine going to a flower shop to buy a dozen roses and the owner gives you one extra
simply because he or she wants you to feel special.
What if you are working for a company and the manager asks you to do some competitive
analysis of the companies that are directly competing with your own company.
You go out and you do what they asked you to and then you tell the manager that you also
analyzed the two companies that went out of business to see if they made some
mistakes that your company could learn from and avoid. When that manager needs to promote someone, who do you think he or she will promote?
We all must realize that it is what we do, not what we say we do, that gives us the results
We all say we want to success, financial security, health, good children, a good
government but we don’t really do much to make sure it happens.
In this way, we sabotage our own success because we are saying something, we are not
doing it and our minds by repeating the words so often believe that we are
really doing it when we are not.
Right now when we are going through difficult times, full of opportunities, but difficult
times, some people are messing up their lives by making stupid decisions and
doing stupid things.
It is time to deal with the stupid things people do, find out why they do them, and teach
them how they can stop doing them. Who
are the ones that can teach people to stop doing stupid things? The people that
get results, the ones that are successful, those that day in and day out work
hard and go the extra mile.
If you understand this principle of going the extra mile and you start applying it
tomorrow, your life will change and if we get enough people to do it, whole
industries could change and if whole industries change, our country will
Imagine if our tourism department would adopt the principle of going the extra mile with
every tourist that comes here. What would that do to our tourism industry?
No matter what you do for a living, identify how you can go the extra mile and you will have
more clients that you can handle.