The Extra Mile
Wednesday was really not my day. No, wait a minute, as a motivational speaker I cannot be negative, so let me rephrase that. Wednesday was a very trying day in the sense that by 3pm in the afternoon, nothing had worked as it should have. All the same I chose to stay positive since I was taught that a day has 24 hours and so far only 15 of those had passed by the time I started writing this article. The day still had 9 more hours to put its act together (that's me being optimistic).
Many things had not gone my way that day, including waking up to the news that my team Arsenal had gone back to its embarrassing ways. I mean, seriously Arsenal, who draws with a team called Anderlecht? I can't even pronounce the name for crying out loud, and if I do, I might bite my tongue. Reading headlines like “Arsenal squandered a 3-0 lead with half an hour to play as Anderlecht produced a stunning comeback to draw 3-3” is not good for my heart, but then again what’s new with you? Anyway, like I said, I need to stay positive. It could have been worse….but I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that you conceded 3 goals in 32 minutes. What on earth were you thinking about Ars3nal? Anyway moving on…
As my woes of the day continued, the part that saddened me is when I walked into a certain shop and found dirt and dust all over the floor and since I know the owner and staff of the place very well, I decided to voice my concerns. To my surprise, when I asked the shop attendant how come their shop was dirty, the response she gave me startled me. To paraphrase her response this is what she said, “it is not my responsibility to clean the shop. There is someone who is paid to do that”. For a few minutes I didn’t know what to say but in my mind, the word ATTITUDE was screaming and as always, I was not going to let that opportunity pass without capturing it in an article.
I’m not even going to try dancing around my message today, I’ll go straight into it. The reason why most organizations fail at creating great customer experiences is because of employees like this one. They lack a sense of ownership, a sense of responsibility and a sense of accountability to some extent. In my assessment, my guess is that the only reason she is there is because she either has nowhere else to go for now or she is just using that opportunity to kill time as she is waiting to go where she should be going. Sadly though, whatever the case, she is missing out on a lot of growth because of her wrong attitude. Before you start pointing a finger at her, hold that thought and let’s see why you might be no different from her.
She says that her job description does not include cleaning her area of operation. Fair enough. But does that mean that she cannot keep her office clean because there is a cleaner who is paid to do that? What ever happened to taking responsibility for something and deciding to do everything you can to make things better even if it is not in your job description? What ever happened to people going the extra mile? Everyone says they go the extra mile but you know what, almost no one actually does. Most people who go there think, "Wait... no one else is here... why am I doing this?" and leave, never to return to extra-mile land.
That is why the extra mile is such a lonely place. That is also why the extra mile is a place filled with opportunities.
If need be, be early and stay late at work doing something extra that will make someone's experience better. Make the extra phone call. Send the extra email. Do the extra research. Help a customer unload or unpack a shipment. Clean the floor if it is dirty. Don't wait to be asked to do stuff; offer.
Every time you do something, think of one extra thing you can do--especially if other people aren't doing that one thing. Sure, it is hard because you risk being called some un-mentionable names by your colleagues but guess what, that is what will make you different, that is what will make you special and that is what will make you get noticed.
Going the extra mile requires a lot of volunteering. Whenever you raise your hand when someone asks for someone to volunteer for something, this means you wind up being asked to do more.
That's great. Doing more is an opportunity: to learn, to impress, to gain skills, to build new relationships, to do something more than you would otherwise been able to do.
The more you volunteer, the more you get to act and guess what, success is based on action. Successful people step forward to create opportunities. Remarkably successful people sprint forward, always visiting the “extra-mile land” that most people would rather avoid.
And over time, that's what will make you incredibly successful. Why? Because your attitude towards your job is not that which George Carlin described when he said, “Most people work just hard enough not to get fired and get paid just enough money not to quit”.
If you have an attitude that asks, "how much more can I do to make things even better?" Then you can be guaranteed that you will be going places. Like the greatest book ever written says, "in everything you do, do it like you are doing it for God". If you adopt this mentality, you will definitely climb ladders very fast.
Friends allow me to reiterate something a lot of us keep forgetting. That job you have but are grumbling about, someone else is wishing they had it. That opportunity you've been taking for granted, someone else is wishing they had it. That job you are doing so haphazardly, there's someone who given the same opportunity would do a grandeur job than you are, and without murmuring or having a rotten attitude about it like you. And if I may add, that person you are taking for granted, there is someone somewhere who wishes they had them.
In conclusion let me end this article by quoting what was said eons ago; your ATTITUDE not your APTITUDE, determines your ALTITUDE.
Wishing you a week full of positive attitude.
PS: Article originally published in Tanzania's Guardian on Sunday on the 9th November, 2014, under my weekly column "Thoughts in Words".