A lot more people run a 5K than a 10K. More run a 10K than a half marathon. Still, a greater number run a half marathon than a marathon. Almost no one runs in events of 50 miles or more. At the start of a marathon, the half marathon runners line up with those who are running the marathon.
The further you go, the more difficult the running. You need a greater level of commitment and intestinal fortitude. At the halfway point, those running the half go back to their cars and head home. The rest keep running, doubling the distance.
You don’t encounter many people on the extra mile. You often find yourself alone, with most of your competitors having dropped off long before they approached the place where continuing makes a difference.
Proactive instead of Reactive
In a commercial setting, going the extra mile comes down to your willingness to be proactive where others are reactive.
The extra miles means identifying the potential problems and challenges your client is facing and doing something about them before they harm your client’s results. It also means generating new initiatives and proposing them before your client even recognizes there is an opportunity to produce better results.
If you are proactive enough to follow-up to ensure your client is producing the result they need and are pleased with your performance, you will distinguish yourself from the crowded, competitive, “me too” market in which you find yourself. Most are content to wait for a request for support or service.
The extra mile requires more of you. It requires more time, more effort, more energy, more focus, more planning, and more discipline. When you look at the list in the preceding sentence, you immediately recognize why you see so few as you travel the extra mile.
More than Anyone Else
The rewards accrue to those who distinguish themselves, those who stand out, those who are in some way exceptional.
In most businesses, there are systemic challenges that plague clients and customers. When this is true, it’s easy to find yourself on your back foot, reacting to every issue and fighting dozens of small fires. Going the extra mile puts you squarely on your front foot, recognizing where those fires are likely to occur, and being there to extinguish them before they do any real damage.
If you are doing what everyone else does, following best practices, you will find yourself in a crowded field. That means you and your competitor’s both stop at the finish line. The extra mile is the mile that you run when everyone else has stopped running, and it is in that mile where you distinguish yourself.
By going above and beyond—and staying on the course longer—you will soon find yourself all alone, a category of one. What you will see on the extra mile is loyal clients, raving fans, competitive differentiation, and the greater success that is only found by those who persist in going above and beyond what is expected.
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