The Habit of Going the Extra Mile
by Napoleon Hill
Nature goes the extra mile by producing enough for everything for her needs, together with a surplus for emergencies and waste; for example, the fruit on the trees, the bloom from which the fruit is grown, frogs in the pond and fish in the seas.
Nature goes the extra mile by producing enough of every living thing to insure the perpetuation of the species, allowing for emergencies of every kind. If this were not true the species of all living things would soon vanish.
Some believe that the beasts of the jungle and the birds of the air live without labor, but thoughtful men know that this is not true. It is true that Nature provides the sources of supply of food for every living thing, but every creature must labor before it may partake of that food.
Thus we see that Nature discourages the habit which some men have acquired of trying to get something for nothing.
The advantages of the habit of going the extra mile are definite and understandable. Let us examine some of them and be convinced:
The habit brings the individual to the favorable attention of those who can and will provide opportunities for self-advancement.
It tends to make one indispensable, in many different human relationships, and it therefore enables him to command more than average compensation for personal services.
It leads to mental growth and to physical skill and perfection in many forms of endeavor, thereby adding to one’s earning capacity.
It protects one against the loss of employment when employment is scarce, and places him in a position to command the choicest of jobs.
It enables one to profit by the law of contrast, since the majority of people do not practice the habit.
It leads to the development of a positive, pleasing mental attitude, which is essential for enduring success.
It tends to develop a keen, alert imagination because it is a habit which inspires one continuously to seek new and better ways of rendering service.
It develops the important quality of personal initiative. It develops self-reliance and courage.
It serves to build the confidence of others in one’s integrity. It aids in the mastery of the destructive habit of procrastination.
It develops definiteness of purpose, insuring one against the common habit of aimlessness.
Give More, Get More
There is still another, and a greater reason for following the habit of going the extra mile. It gives one the only logical reason for asking for increased compensation.
If a man performs no more service than that for which he is being paid, then obviously he is receiving all the pay to which he is entitled.
He must render as much service as that for which he is being paid, in order to hold his job, or to maintain his source of income, regardless of how he earns it.
But he has the privilege always of rendering an overplus of service as a means of accumulating a reserve credit of goodwill, and to provide a just reason for demanding more pay, a better position, or both.
Every position based upon a salary or wages provides one with an opportunity to advance himself by the application of this principle, and it is important to note that the American system of free enterprise is operated on the basis of providing every worker in industry with a proper incentive to apply the principle.
Any practice or philosophy which deprives a man of the privilege of going the extra mile is unsound and doomed to failure, for it is obvious that this principle is the steppingstone of major importance by which an individual may receive compensation for extraordinary skill, experience and education; and it is the one principle which provides the way of self-determination, regardless of what occupation, profession or calling the individual may be engaged in.
In America, anyone may earn a living without the habit of going the extra mile. And many do just that, but economic security and the luxuries available under the great American way of life are available only to the individual who makes this principle a part of his philosophy of life and lives by it as a matter of daily habit.
Every known rule of logic and common sense forces one to accept this as true. And even a cursory analysis of men in the higher brackets of success will prove that it is true.
The leaders of the American system are adamant in their demands that every worker be protected in his right to adopt and apply the principle of going the extra mile, for they recognize from their own experience that the future leadership in industry is dependent upon men who are willing to follow this principle.
It is a well-known fact that Andrew Carnegie developed more successful leaders of industry than has any other great American industrialist. Most of them came up from the ranks of ordinary day laborers, and many of them accumulated personal fortunes of vast amounts, more than they could have acquired without the guidance of Mr. Carnegie.
The first test that Mr. Carnegie applied to any worker whom he desired to promote was that of determining to what extent the worker was willing to go the extra mile.
It was this test that led him to the discovery of Charles M. Schwab. When Mr. Schwab first came to Mr. Carnegie’s attention he was working as a day laborer in one of the steel master’s plants. Close observation revealed that Mr. Schwab always performed more and better service than that for which he was paid. Moreover, he performed it in a pleasing mental attitude which made him popular among his fellow workers.
He was promoted from one job to another until at long last he was made president of the great United States Steel Corporation, at a salary of $75,000 a year!
Not through all the ingenuity of man, or all the schemes that men resort to in order to get something for nothing, could Charles M. Schwab, the day laborer, have earned as much as $75,000 during his entire lifetime if he had not willingly adopted and followed the habit of going the extra mile.
On some occasions Mr. Carnegie not only paid Mr. Schwab’s salary, which was generous enough, but gave him as much as$1,000,000 as a bonus in addition to his regular salary.
When Mr. Carnegie was asked why he gave Mr. Schwab a bonus so much greater than his salary, he replied in words that every worker, regardless of his job or wages, might well ponder. “I gave him his salary for the work he actually performed,” said Mr. Carnegie, “and the bonus for his willingness to go the extra mile, thus setting a fine example for his fellow workers.”
Think of that! A salary of $75,000 a year, paid to a man who started as a day laborer, and a bonus of more than ten times that amount for a good disposition expressed by a willingness to do more than he was paid for.
Verily it pays to go the extra mile, for every time an individual does so he places someone else under obligation to him.
No one is compelled to follow the habit of going the extra mile, and seldom is anyone ever requested to render more service than that for which he is paid. Therefore, if the habit is followed it must be adopted on one’s own initiative.
Source: The Master Key to Riches by Napoleon Hill