We have all heard this expression, but what is its origin and how does it apply to the professional and personal areas of our lives? This idiom is sourced from The Bible, Matthew chapter 5, in which Jesus addresses his followers in the well known “Sermon on the Mount”. The verse reads: “And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two”. Understand this: during this time in history, the Roman Empire occupied Jerusalem and the Jews found themselves under the authority of an oppressive government. Roman law dictated that if a Jew was to carry a Roman soldier’s possessions, he had to carry them for a mile. Jesus wanted his followers to be humble and willing to do more than what was expected of them.
Going the extra mile as an HVAC technician:
Sometimes this is as simple as being pleasant! Instead of replying to a “thank you” with the generic phrase “no problem”, say “my pleasure”. Your choice of words matters. Always say PLEASE and THANK YOU! The customer is paying your salary, never forget that. If your company still uses paper job tickets, sign them with a “Thank You!”. Be willing to stand out among other techs with your words and actions. For example, I used to wipe down the outdoor units with Turtle Wax spray when I did preventative maintenance (“PMs”). I always vacuumed out furnaces, and unless the customer had a media filter, they always received a filter for FREE. Look for opportunities to go above and beyond for your customer and your employer. Stellar customer service and intuitive social skills can be taken with you throughout your personal and professional life.
Going the extra mile as an educator:
Sometimes it is easy to forget the pressures placed on our students. I recently participated in a contest in which I competed with fifty other educators from all over the US. There was both a written test and a set of diverse practical challenges to achieve in a timely manner. The experience reminded me of the pressures involved in the classroom. It is very important to walk in the shoes of our students. Keep in mind that new concepts take time to marinate. Students who are afraid of asking “dumb questions” may continue to go on day after day in a state of confusion and eventually give up completely. Carefully consider their tasks and struggles by being approachable, encouraging and available for personal tutoring. Watch for the warning signs when a student seems to become disengaged or disconnected from the class and address those issues privately with a heart of concern. That is what I mean by going the extra mile. We are educators, but more importantly we are life-coaches. There is nothing more profound to a student than knowing you are his/her advocate. I spend a lot of off-line hours tutoring and coaching my students. It means the world to them!
Going the extra mile as a person:
In this age of social media and smart devices, we have lost simple, common decency. As stated earlier, the terms please and thank you have become foreign. There’s a grocery store walking distance from our home where the employees struggle to even nod their heads with the notion of a “thanks”. Whilst on their breaks, they will stand directly in front of the store to have their smokes. During checkout, customers are made to feel like they’re interrupting the cashier’s Snapchat conversation. Therefore, my wife and I will drive three miles to another store where the manager’s leadership is decidedly customer-oriented! I love the old saying: “The fish stinks from the head”. Using courtesies should not be an extra mile thing, but it is considered just that these days. Let’s all do just a little extra in everything we do on a daily basis. Let’s get caught doing random acts of kindness. Actually look behind you and hold the door, then say thank you when someone holds it for you!
Go the extra mile, not because you have to, but because you want to!