“It’s never crowded on the extra mile,” a friend used to tell me. He said he was willing to do today what others won’t, so he could be tomorrow what others can’t. He achieved the success he wanted, and so that stuck with me.
When you do more than expected, you show respect for your ability and respect for the opportunity presented. You tap into your God given inner drive for mastery and learn that the only person who limits you is yourself.
When you do more, more often than not, you start to develop a habit. Habits are hard to form and even harder to break. As Robin Sharma points out in his book, The Leader Who Had No Title, little differences done repeatedly add up to extraordinary improvement. What if you spent half your lunch working on learning a new skill? That’s 130 hours a year. That’s an extra month of effort. Do you think making 13 deposits into your skill bank will move you ahead? One extra mortgage payment a year reduces a 30 year mortgage to 18 years and saves the original cost of the house in reduced interest payment.
The real kicker comes when you realize that by doing more than expected, you receive positive feedback from many who observe your effort. Positive feedback provides the fuel to recharge and repeat the process. Repeating the process leads to even more positive feedback. What a wonderful cycle!
So why not cut years off the price it takes to move ahead? The answer is simple. It’s not always easy and convenient to do more than expected more often than not. It’s not always noticed, and it can occasionally subject you to negativity from your peers. My mother, an executive secretary, joined a typing pool and was told to slow down because she was “making the others look bad.”
Sadly, most days, the negativity comes from within. We self talk our way out of improvement. Ever uttered or thought, “I could never do….” See what I mean?
Have you ever gone beyond the minimum required to impress someone? Maybe a coach, a boss, a girl friend, or a parent. Why? The key is something we wanted. The discipline to go the extra mile comes from remembering what you want.
A funny thing happens when you start implementing this rule. It’s contagious. In the movie Cool Hand Luke, Paul Newman proposed that the prisoners outwork the daily plan for the road crew, so they could have a break at the end of day. He and George Kennedy just started picking it up, and the other inmates jumped in. In 2010, Cam Newton started making plays with his feet and his arm for a team forecasted to finish 4th in their division. Everyone noticed, the team picked up their play, and in January 2011, Auburn was crowned BCS Champion. And it was an unheralded line and a freshman running back that brought the victory home at the end of the game.
So how do you make this happen? Here are some tips:
1) Pick an activity that you do on a regular basis.
2) Ask yourself, “What would represent doing this a little better?”
3) Write your description of what a little more would look like.
4) Choose a reward for doing this for the next 30 days.
5) Tell an accountability partner of your plan.
6) Each morning repeat the following scripture: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Colossians 3: 23-24, NIV Bible)
7) Every time you achieve your little extra goal, smile, physically celebrate, and record the date and achievement.
8) Reward yourself after 30 days of consecutive improvement.
9) Choose another activity and repeat. Repeat.
It’s never crowded on the extra mile!