Business · Career

Going the extra mile

When was the last time you did something more than what was asked of you? Seems like a distant memory? We rarely stretch ourselves beyond the task that we are assigned even if there is scope for improvement. Aren’t we all so comfortable in just meeting expectations? Aren’t we all so comfortable in stopping with exactly what we are asked to do? Aren’t we great at telling ourselves  “Hey, he just asked me to send him the papers, why should I put it in a file?”?Going the extra mile is not a common quality today, not in business nor in mankind. And because it is not so common, it is highly valued.

The expression “Going the extra mile” came from the practice of “impressment” during the 18th Century. A Roman soldier had the authority to conscript a Jewish native to carry his equipment for one Roman mile. (about 1500 yards) –no easy task especially considering that the soldier’s backpack could weigh well over 100 pounds.By law, the Roman soldier can’t force you to go any further than a mile. At the end of the first mile, when the soldier asked for his backpack from the native, the Jew replied, “I want to carry this for you, for another mile” and kept walking for another mile till the Roman understood what the beauty in the boy was.

The Jewish native carrying the Roman soldier's backpack
The Jewish native carrying the Roman soldier’s backpack

The Jew exceeded expectations here. It was his willingness to go two miles in the one mile world that led the soldier to think about the torture he was inflicting on the bodies of the young Jewish natives. We don’t carry packs for Roman soldiers anymore but the principle of going that extra mile is still applicable to us today.

Exceeding expectation in business:

Exceeding expectations in business is what sets one business above the rest. For Ray Kroc of McDonald’s, it was his unbending fanaticism with instilling consistency and cleanliness in his restaurants. For Dave Thomas of Wendy’s, it was his insistence on using fresh, never frozen beef. For Howard Schultz of Starbucks, it was his dedication to creating a safe and happy work environment for his employees who, in turn, provide better service to the guests. And for Steve Ells of Chipotle, it was his commitment to free range, non-factory-raised ingredients, “Food with Integrity”. These businesses are always exceeding expectations, day in and day out. The art of doing that with consistency is what has got them to where they are. Success is not a myth. Infact, it is often the result of a consistent adherence to a combination of values (like exceeding expectations).

Be smart about it:
When Paul Shankman(American entrepreneur, investor and blogger) was on his flight from Tampa to Newark , he jokingly tweeted to the Morton’s The Steakhouse(one of the best restaurants in the USA for steaks) official twitter account that it’d be great to have a Morton’s Porterhouse(best steak on the menu) waiting for him when he landed in New Jersey. And guess what? His steak was waiting for him at the airport (pictured below)

Shankman-Twitter-300x224  mortonsEWR-179x300

In under 3 hours, someone at Morton’s Corporate had to see Shankman’s tweet, get authorization to do this stunt, get in touch with the restaurant and place the order. The order had to be cooked, get boxed up, and a driver and server had to be arranged to carry the steak to the airport which was 23 miles away. While this was happening, track down Shankman’s flight, where he was landing and catch him when he walked out of the security check.

Obviously the same wouldn’t happen to you if you tweeted to Morton’s about how famished you would be once you landed in New Jersey and how they could help you with a Porterhouse. Morton’s picked the right guy to do it for. It’s probably not a coincidence that Shankman happens to be the author of Customer Service : New Rules for a Social Media World. Shankman put up a blog post about the experience –(http://shankman.com/the-best-customer-service-story-ever-told-starring-mortons-steakhouse/) He has 1,00,000 followers on Twitter and word had definitely caught up fetching Morton a chunk of goodwill and social media presence. Well played Mortons.

What I am trying to say is that you must stretch yourself sensibly. You don’t have to exceed expectations with everything you do in the day. Stretch yourself where it matters and do it consistently. That should do the job.

Totally off the topic, check Gordon Ramsay’s marinated mushrooms out. I tried them out today and it turned out just fine! The ideal antipasto!

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4 thoughts on “Going the extra mile

  1. Nice thoughts. I think one doesn’t realize the worth of going the extra mile, until seeing the response to it, which is probably why not many opt to do it in the first place.

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