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January 15, 2016

Going the Extra Mile

Jo Jones

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©iStockphoto/kieferpix
©iStockphoto/kieferpix

What does "going the extra mile" mean to you?

Does it mean taking on extra and unnecessary work? Or is it something that people do when they're trying to be better than everyone else?

To me, it means going above and beyond what's expected of you and pushing yourself to be the best that you can be. After all, everyone has different dreams and capabilities, so working hard to realize them isn't being competitive, it's about having a personal desire to do more, to be more, and to achieve more.

One evening I noticed blue lights flashing outside my living room window. On closer inspection, I saw that an ambulance had pulled up outside my neighbor's house. Whilst peering out through my shutters and wondering what could've possibly happened, I heard the very distressed cries of my neighbor, who was frantically talking into her cell phone.

Other than the paramedic, who was inside giving her husband urgent medical attention, she was alone. I'm fairly sure that family or friends were on their way to her but, at that precise moment, she was very alone.

I could have closed my shutters and walked away, at that point. I could see that help had arrived and that more was probably on its way. I'd done what could be seen as my neighborly duty.

But I could not close my shutters and I could not walk away. Although I knew that I'd have very little to offer my neighbor in the way of help or comfort, and that I might be risking the appearance of prying or even being in the way, something in my head was telling me that walking away was not being the best person that I could be. So out I went.

I was with my neighbor just a short while before her family arrived. As I'd expected, there was nothing I could do to make any difference to the ordeal she was facing, but there I was alongside her, whilst she was facing it.

I spent the remainder of the evening wondering if I'd done the right thing by getting involved. Perhaps I’d overstepped the mark? Perhaps I should have minded my own business?

I needn't have worried, however. The next day I was unloading my shopping from the car and, despite everything else my poor neighbor was dealing with, she came over especially to say "thank you." She said she wanted to thank me for going outside to check on her, even though I didn't need to. She described how, even amidst the awful events of the evening, the small thing that I'd done had made a big difference to her.

In turn, my neighbor's words made a big difference to me. I realized that by pushing myself to be the best that I could be, despite my concerns about whether I was doing the best thing at all, I'd managed to make a positive impact. In a horrific situation that was completely out of my comfort zone, I'd done my best. I'd gone the extra mile.

Today's article talks about how you can go above and beyond at work, by using your strengths, building relationships, spreading positive energy, and becoming a highly effective team member.

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9 comments on “Going the Extra Mile”

  1. Going an extra mile does not really require a lot but a mind set and strong and honest determination to do more, act more, give more and get more...!

    1. I really like the attitude expressed here. Often, going the extra mile is not a physical but a mental step.

      Bill
      Mind Tools Team

  2. I always say "it is easier to do nothing than to do something"...but rarely are we disappointed after having left our comfort zone to try something different or go the extra mile

    1. I agree, Jocelyn. While we're in our comfort zone we don't really grow...it's going into the stretch zone where we are forced to grow. And that feeling of satisfaction when we realize we've done it...amazing!

  3. I highly appreciate this article while preparing a keynote speech on going the extra mile to move out of the comfort zone for my students. A lot of thanks to the author Jo Jones for posting this highly enriching article.

  4. I think this is really good, but if there was one thing I could say it would be this Why do we always say 'Going the Extra Mile' ? For me whenever I give my speeches and speak about this subject I say 'Going the Extra Degree'. This way for those who aren't so motivated sitting out in the audience going the extra degree doesn't seems so strenuous because it is only one little degree, that can make such a big difference, whereas the concept is the same but 'going the extra mile' seems a lot harder, becuase a mile is actually a long way!
    I fully agree with what is posted above! I love it!

  5. Loolies2468, what a great idea! I think the "extra mile" comes from a parable in the Bible, but I'm not hundred percent sure.
    I do like your idea of an extra degree though. Sometimes it's all about helping someone paint a different mind-picture in order to help them bridge the gap between intention and action.
    Thanks for sharing!

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