The Extra Mile

by Scott on May 18, 2012

This article is part of The Catalyst Series: a series of articles that will help you advance your career, create opportunity, become indispensable, and change the world.

Going the extra mile is one of the most critical steps to advancing your career.  It’s more important than anything else I’ll discuss in this series.

Going the extra mile is doing the unexpected.  It’s going above and beyond your job description to make the world a better place.  It’s WOWing somebody.

Here are some different ways you can go the extra mile at work:

  1. Write a thank-you note to a new customer.
  2. Write a thank-you note to your employees for a job well done.
  3. Volunteer to be part of a new project.
  4. Start a new project.
  5. Give one of your customers a new business lead.
  6. Teach a personal development class.
  7. Write a blog to offer helpful information.
  8. Be a mentor.
  9. Do something no one else wants to do.
  10. Care.

What happens when you go the extra mile?

  1. You feel good.  You have peace-of-mind knowing you made someone’s day better.
  2. You learn.  You help people solve their problems and in return learn how to solve your own.
  3. You become valuable.  Few people are willing to go the extra mile.  Those who do are scarce.  Scarcity = value.
  4. You feel empowered.  Most people go to work, follow instructions, and go home.  Going the extra mile gives you a chance to make your own rules and chart your own course.  This is liberating.
  5. You are fulfilled.  When you go the extra mile, you fulfill your definite purpose as you move with conviction toward your goals.

How far are you willing to go?

Despite all the great rewards you get by going the extra mile, very few do.  Why not?  Because it’s hard.  It’s not required.  It’s different.  It causes people to look at you funny.

Have you ever gone out of your way to do something nice for someone and they look at you like you have two heads?  That’s OK.  It re-emphasizes that you’re different.  You’re uncommon, scarce, and valuable!

It’s easy to fit in, fly under the radar, and maintain the status quo.  It’s easy to show up to work and follow instructions.  It’s easy to wait around for someone to tell you what to do.

It’s not easy to go out of your way and do something that will make a difference.

How much are you willing to give?

A common misconception is that going the extra mile is about grinding down and out-working your counterparts.  Going the extra mile is not a competition or a race.  It’s creating value.  It’s sharing and giving.  It’s not winning and losing.

You have a unique gift that makes you different from everyone else. Use it.  Share it.  Give it away for free.

Napoleon Hill, one of the most respected personal-success writers of all time, spent 20 years of his life (unpaid) creating his philosophy on personal achievement.  People thought he was crazy.  After all, why would anyone work for 20 years for free?  Most people wouldn’t work 20 minutes for free.

In those 20 years he wrote the book “Think and Grow Rich.”  During his lifetime, the book sold over 20 million copies.  His work affected millions of lives and continues to have an effect on people today.

Why compete against Physics?

Sir Isaac Newton’s 3rd law of motion is: “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

When you give more, you get more.   The gifts you give always come back to you (usually much greater) in return.  Maybe not today, this week, or this year…but eventually they will come back.  They may be in the form of a promotion, compensation, opportunity, a handshake, or a hug.   But most importantly, giving makes you happy.  It makes you feel good.  And  you get that feeling immediately.

Worst-Case Scenario

What if you can’t see how Newton’s third law applies to you?  What if you don’t get the reaction you were looking for?  What if you don’t get a promotion or recognized for your efforts?

The worst-case scenario is you will have brightened someone’s day.  You will have made the world a better place.  You will have made a difference.

And that’s enough for me.


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Previous Articles:


The Only 300 Words You Should Read Today

Introducing… the Catalyst Series (Click Here To Change Your Life)

Have an excellent week.


Scott Mackes is a leader and founder of the site “Margin of Excellence”.  Connect with Scott on facebook and twitter.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Danielle Pelletier May 18, 2012 at 12:59 pm

I whole-heartedly agree!
Thank you for this wonderful article and timely reminder.


Scott May 18, 2012 at 1:37 pm

Hi Danielle, thanks for stopping by. You’re welcome for the reminder.


Dee Dee Bush May 18, 2012 at 7:38 pm

Thanks so much, Scott. I enjoyed your list in particular. One thing to add might be “build your network. After spending over 15 years with an organization I thought “going the extra mile” only meant working harder for the organization… I pretty much removed myself from the loop.

I’ll be spending the next 15 years not only going the extra mile but also realizing the value each step has on my personal journey as well.

Again, thanks for sharing Scott!


Scott May 18, 2012 at 8:12 pm

Hey Dee Dee! You make a good point. Not only is it important to go the extra mile, but it’s also important to make sure all those miles actually add up to something. Build that tower for yourself!


Ryan Cook May 19, 2012 at 11:26 am

I would have to agree that this is clearly the most important step anyone can do. If you volunteer for the project nobody else wants, those above will notice and you will advance. Employers want risk takers. Risk takers who can perform are very hard to find. They can always find another follower to replace you.

The most important extra mile item that has brought me success, personally, is the hand written Thank You note. Nobody takes the time to physically write a note anymore. I guarantee that every hand written Thank You note you write will be opened and read. You will stand out. You will surprise people. You will be remembered fondly. Very powerful.



Scott May 20, 2012 at 1:16 pm

Ryan, I agree with you on the hand written thank-you note. I’ve gotten many from you : ) That’s first class!


Todd May 19, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Scott, I appreciate your commitment to becoming a better you and the weekly emails. So much of what you touch upon is what I use daily in my business and I often find myself including pieces of your newsletter in some of my trainings. Thank you for all you do. Keep up the fantastic work. You rock!!
Todd Casilli


Scott May 20, 2012 at 1:17 pm

Hi Todd, thanks for checking in! I’m glad I could be of service to you. Let me know if there’s anything more I can do to help.


hap May 20, 2012 at 8:26 am

I agree with what you said here. But extra mile can be depressing if you get fired. As per me, working smart is more important. What are your thoughts on that?


Scott May 20, 2012 at 1:20 pm

Hi Hap, I think you have to put yourself out there and take the chance. It’s kind of like not going out of your way to impress a girl because you think she might turn you down. You’ll never know if you don’t try. I agree with you on the working smart part. Gotta make sure your extra efforts are being noticed and that they all add up to something in the end.

Thanks for stopping by.


Tom Wolfe May 22, 2012 at 4:56 pm

Scott —
Great advice. Succinct, clear, useful. As I career coach, I frequently give my clients similar guidance as they prepare for interviews. By the time a face-to-face interview occurs, all of the contenders for the position are pretty much equal at that point, at least on paper and in terms of baseline qualifications. Now it comes down to personality and standing out from the crowd–time for the EXTRA MILE to kick-in. Be better prepared. Do something unexpected or out-of-the-ordinary: research the competition; visit one of the company’s facilities; look for an inside connection; learn something about the interviewer. And, as mentioned above, a hand-written “thank-you/I am interested” note can make all the difference!


Scott May 22, 2012 at 9:05 pm

Hi Tom, thanks for the comment. I recently conducted interviews for a position and didn’t receive a single thank you note. Not even an email. The sad part is that all the candidates wanted the position. These candidates need guys like you to whip them into shape!


Dan Black June 4, 2012 at 11:13 am

This is such a good reminder on the importance of going the “extra mile.” I really like the list of ways a person can go the “extra mile.” Keep writing great content.


Scott June 4, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Dan, glad you enjoyed the article. Thanks for stopping by.


Shelley J June 13, 2012 at 7:54 am


Great post. What I struggle with is I sometimes feel defeated. I want to be such a contributor but when I do not feel valued I wonder why I bother.


Scott June 13, 2012 at 4:50 pm

Shelley, keep your head up keep moving forward. Don’t let anyone get you down. Have a great week.


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