Are you familiar with the quote that says, “There’s never a traffic jam on the extra mile”? Or, how about the phrase ‘and then some’? What does ‘and then some’ mean to you? When I think of ‘the extra mile’ combined with ‘and then some’, I think of what most of the world isn’t willing to do. Remember, if we want to stop living like most people, we must stop acting like most people. But, how do we do that? Please don’t misunderstand me, there’s nothing inherently wrong with most people. Most people are well-meaning, hard-working, good-hearted people. The only breakdown is that most people live out their days on this earth with a great degree of frustration. They feel unfulfilled, unaccomplished, and unsure of their life’s purpose.
So, how could stepping into the ‘and then some’ arena or walking that extra mile help catapult us into a life beyond our wildest imagination? One of my mentors once told me that our “living small” serves no one. I didn’t really understand what she meant at first, especially since there are plenty of great people who live a fairly quiet life in their own little corner of the world. But I’ve since come to understand the difference between living a quiet life and living a small life. A small life refers to small thinking and limited living. We can come up with every reason under the sun to justify our half-hearted approach to life, but the truth is that our unwillingness or inability to play full-out is always characterized by lack. Lack of belief, lack of gumption, lack of willingness, lack of energy, lack of awareness, lack of insight, lack of faith, lack of desire, and lack of confidence can all lead to a small life – a life that never sees the extra mile.
Let’s take a look at how becoming an ‘and then some’ kind of person could compensate for any deficiencies we struggle with and bring us the rewarding life we so desire. Doing the ‘and then some’ will always payoff in big ways. It will always bring a significant return on your investment – even if it’s sometimes immeasurable or even unnoticeable. The principle applies in every arena of life. Take your career, for example. Are you diligent or half-hearted at work? Whether you work for yourself or someone else, do you give 110% to your projects? Are you truly seeking to apply your best effort, or are you just doing the job and going home? You may have heard the phrase “under-promise and over-deliver”. Instead, I think we should promise to give absolute excellence/superior service; and then still strive to out-perform the expectations. Whether you’re working for a client, a boss, a patient, or a student, are you seeking to execute with unmatched service?
Oftentimes, “I did my best” is a cop out. It’s an excuse we throw down when our performance didn’t cut it. But I learned several years ago that there is a difference in doing your best and doing whatever it takes. When we step into whatever it takes mode, we’re willing to seek out new, different, and better solutions to get the job done – and done well. Even if it means swallowing your pride, burning the midnight oil, or eating a few dollars of profit in the short-term, it will always payoff in the long-term. Let’s face it: you will never get the promotion until you’ve outgrown your current position and your current level of character. And the character development must precede the performance that precedes the promotion. In your world, it could mean a promotion up the career path, up to a bigger client deal, or up to an expanded business. But those who aren’t willing to play full-out, lay it all on the line, and go the extra mile with their service are never going to experience an abundant harvest. They’re going to collect their paycheck, go home, and wonder why they can’t seem to catch a “lucky break”.
How about with your spouse? Or your kids? Or your finances? Your health? What would living as an “and then some” kind of person do for each of these areas of your life? You would create richer relationships with everyone around you. You would be diligent with your financial planning instead of spending your paycheck reactively. In dealing with others, an ‘and then some’ kind of person would go out of their way to keep their word. Yes, even in the little things, even when you’re tired, even when it’s inconvenient, and even when you’d rather go home and collapse after a long day. Living in the extra mile means that you’re willing to be inconvenienced, do the right thing, put others first, and proactively seek out ways to live in excellence. Living in the extra mile means that you don’t only reciprocate kindness when it’s shown to you. Instead, you initiate kindness – without expecting anything in return.
Guess what happens when you purposefully choose to become this kind of ‘and then some’ person every single day? People want to be around you! As you create an “extra mile” reputation, people will begin to seek you out. Someone who lives in excellence, honors their commitments, and seeks out ways to add value to others becomes a highly sought-after individual. This approach to life can bring you more good friends than you’ve ever known, more rewarding family relationships than you ever thought possible, and even produce professional payoff in ways you never imagined.
But guess what else? This type of living doesn’t typically come naturally to anyone. No, human nature is to put ourselves first. We have a self-centered approach to life and we very infrequently consider how our words, actions, and diligence (or lack thereof) impact others. We don’t understand that our half-hearted effort on a daily basis is robbing us of the rich rewards we so greatly desire. And we don’t understand that we can change it all with the simple flip of a switch. Think of it as a mental switch that triggers a mental muscle. It’s the muscle that makes you aware of the ‘and then some’ and gives you the strength to walk the extra mile. As with any muscle, the more you work it, the stronger it becomes. And then the muscle starts to kick in naturally, so that this new full-out approach to life becomes second nature. And the most amazing phenomenon begins to take place in your life: the more you give, the more you have. It’s a well that never runs dry. Because the energy you give out comes back to you tenfold.
So, walk the extra mile to deliver excellence – with a smile – to everyone in your circle of influence. Put down the phone and read a book with your kids. Turn off the TV and have a conversation with your spouse. Extend the courtesy of an RSVP when you receive an invitation. Show up at the shower or party like you said you were going to. Say “thank you” to the busboy who refills your water glass in the restaurant. Get up early to thank the Creator of the Universe even when you’re exhausted. Smile and say a kind word to the always-having-a-bad-day airport personnel. It’s amazing how these small, simple choices can set you apart from the rest of the world as you begin to implement them as common practice. Just try it this week; see what happens. Watch how people will begin to notice and treat you differently. And watch how fulfilled, energized, and joyful you will become in absolutely no time at all.