Professionals from all streams undertake MBA qualification in order to enhance their career. The syllabus i.e., course content of MBA is in most cases totally unrelated to their earlier field of specialization. The main subjects included in MBA are Marketing, Financial Management, Human Resource Management etc. Though these subjects are useful and relevant to most organizations, learning these subjects alone does not justify huge time and cost invested in the MBA qualification.
The crux of the learning is in the personality transformation that one undergoes during the course. The personality does not simply mean your physical appearance, etiquette and manners, the way of speech etc, but includes developing self-confidence, an attitude of positive growth and transformation in the way one perceives and responds to evolving situations. The inclusion of group projects, seminar presentations, case studies etc in the course helps to some extent. However, the responsibility for major development and growth rests on the individuals themselves. An MBA student must develop the habit of quiet introspection, voracious reading (other than the text books) and reflection, picking up and exploring new ideas and approaches to living. One such idea which all MBA students would find extremely useful is given by the phrase, “going the extra mile” or simply “walk the extra mile”. Literally it means to make more effort than is expected of you; to try harder to please someone or get the task done correctly; to do more than one is required to do to reach a goal. If someone decides to go the extra mile, he will do everything he can to make something succeed, going beyond his normal call of duty.
The origin of expression “the extra mile” can be traced back to Bible, when Jesus declares in his ‘Sermon on the Mount’, “whoever forces you to go one mile go with him two”. In those days Roman law allowed soldiers to compel Jewish natives to carry their equipment for one roman mile (1000 paces or 1473 meters). The soldiers backpack equipment usually weighed 50 kg and it was not easy task to carry it. This was unpopular law. Jesus wanted his followers to show unexpected helpfulness that went beyond what was required. This had transformation effect on the average soldier. Thus the phrase “going the extra mile” is based on teachings of Jesus and it means to go beyond what is expected to achieve positive result. In the current business scenario the connotation of the phrase ‘the extra mile’ has undergone change. In reference to the workplace it means your position isn’t just a job but you are part of a team and willing to help outside your duties and assigned tasks. Employers are always on the lookout for people who are willing to go the extra mile.
There are many quotations regarding going the extra mile. A few of these are reproduced below:
- “There are no traffic jams along the extra mile.” – Roger Staubach
- “One of the most important principles of success is developing the habit to go the extra mile” – Napoleon Hill
- “Strive not to be a success, rather to be of value” – Albert Einstein
Even though there are many examples of persons employing the principle of going the extra mile to reach great heights, the contribution of Napoleon Hill in spreading this approach cannot be ignored. The professional life of Napoleon Hill himself is classical example in going the extra mile. Andrew Carnegie, a great industrialist, wanted to explore principles of success which are generally applicable in all fields of activity. Napoleon Hill who was a law student then, agreed to carry out this mission with no remuneration. He worked for 20 years and interviewed many people in top positions, which included founders of great companies, presidents, inventors, famous philanthropists etc. He took lot of time to observe such people to determine what principles they employed in their approach to life and work. Napoleon Hill carried out the mission often with strain on his personal life besides criticism and ridicule from relatives. In his own words we quote “between the needling of my relatives and the hardships I endured, it was not easy to maintain positive mental attitude and persevere.” Today we can see that going the extra mile for twenty years and enduring all the hardships has paid him well. He has completed the research and became a world renowned celebrity. He has written many books based on his research and two of his best books are titled “Think and Grow Rich” and “Success through positive mental attitude”.
His research and writings have influenced millions of people to take ideas, inspiration and grow to great heights. One such example is of Og Mandino who built his life based on Napoleon Hill’s books. He himself is a celebrity and has published many best seller books, the best book being “Best Salesman in the World”.
Going the extra mile is not just an action plan or strategy. It is a state of mind such that it is part of everything that one does in life. It is a mental attitude that is important.
Today, the world is fiercely competitive in all areas of activity, primarily because of tremendous development in the field of communication, computerization and faster means of travel. The world is like a global village where everyone knows everything almost instantly. There are two ways to beat the competition. One is to lower the price and second is to increase the quality and quantity of your products and services.
In today’s highly competitive circumstances, good or even great is not enough. To shine out one has to be outstanding and outperforming. Consumers have numerous choices and ability to change over to another supplier of goods and services one may require. Price and quality alone cannot win the war at the market place. What is required is great attitude to customer service. Customer service is not an extra burden, but an opportunity to please and delight the customer. A satisfied customer is the most important marketing strategy for a firm. This cannot come without everyone in the organization embracing the concept of going the extra mile. We can say that going the extra mile is the ultimate competitive edge.
Great leaders well understand that whatever you give, you will get. You go extra mile for others and they will go twice the distance. Going the extra mile is highly infectious. The most powerful aspect of going the extra mile is the cascading effect it has on others. Leaders who go extra mile themselves inspire others in the organization. Setting an example of going the extra mile is far more effective than any amount of training sessions or task setting etc.
Future will consist of only two types of firms. One are those who employ people with habit of going the extra mile and other are those who are bankrupt. What you like to make of your career is in your hands and the best time to develop such great attitudes and mindsets is during your MBA program.
Going the extra mile brings in numerous benefits. Some key benefits are listed below for you to understand so that you don’t render extra service resentfully and unwillingly.
- The law of compensation and law of increasing return
- Gaining favourable attention and creating opportunity
- Self improvement and becoming indispensible
- Personal initiative and favourable contrast
- Developing self confidence and pleasing attitude
- Creating win-win situation
The biggest issue in organizational life is that of compensation for the service rendered. Your primary compensation is the paycheque. However, compensation includes money, joy, warm and loving relationships, developing patience and tolerance, an open mind and everything else worthwhile that you want.
Ultimate formula is that you render superior and greater service than you are paid for and rest assured that it will lead to your receiving far greater benefits which are beyond your wildest dreams.
Contributed By : Sumit Gulati (Class of 2009, IBS Hyderabad).