I can’t remember exactly where I saw that quote but it was likely shared by one of the many budding philosophers on Facebook or Instagram. However, in today’s world where everyone is “soooo busy” that many struggle to make adequate effort even for simple gestures, the extra mile is indeed a road less traveled.
Cheers to those who take the road. They set a higher standard and lift others up.
Their efforts transcended the “check off the box” mindset. I know both people have incredibly busy schedules, especially with the impending college football season, but they didn’t just move on. They made me feel I was important enough to think about beyond the time we actually spent together.
Additionally, one of them agreed to take the time to do an informational interview for a women’s soccer student-athlete I know from another university who is interested in a career in college athletics. There was no job opening in the near future. However, he gave his time, and even more importantly, his perspective to help the young woman get more clarity about her future aspirations. He easily could have deferred or delayed and said “it’s my busiest time of the year so let’s wait.”
As for the student-athlete, she also made the extra investment of time and effort. She’s interested in becoming a graduate assistant while earning her Master’s after graduating with her Bachelor’s degree next May. So the carrot was a year away. But she was willing to make the early investment without immediate gratification. I know that she also followed up with a “thank you” e-mail, and then a hand-written note. I am nearly 100% sure that both people’s extra effort will bear fruit in the future.
Ideally, individuals, companies or brands all want to build deeper relationships that elicit trust and loyalty. In business, I’ve regularly illustrated the value of building an “equity-based relationship” instead of a “transaction-based relationship.” The terms may sound like they came out of a textbook, but when brought to life, there is wide gap between the impact each approach makes on people.
- Hy-Vee is a midwestern grocery store chain with the tagline “A helpful smile in every aisle.” The employees in Hy-Vee never miss the chance to proactively ask if they can help you find something. And if you say I’m looking for brownie mix, they don’t just point and say “It’s in aisle 12.” They walk with you to the aisle and ask what brand and size brownie mix you want and pick it out for you.
- Brands that prioritize “service over sales” instead of “service after a sale” travel the extra mile. They are willing to be an advocate for you even if you haven’t purchased their product. That’s an indication of how much they will care to make sure you are loving the product after you buy it.
- Friends or family who call for no reason at all just to talk or send a text just saying “I’m thinking about you” are also on the extra mile. Everyone is busy. But those who think about you even in the midst of their noisy, cluttered schedule send a message that you are a priority.
Technology has contributed to making the “extra mile” more desolate. There are less thoughtful phone calls, letters or notes, and even less actual face-to-face get togethers. We’ve lowered our standard for nurturing real relationships. We have conditioned ourselves to believe that a quick text – if that even in some cases - is a substitute for thoughtful engagement.
Hope more change the paradigm. The world would be a more cheerful and thoughtful place if the “extra mile” became a lot more crowded.