“There are two types of people who never achieve very much in their lifetimes. One is the person who won’t do what he or she is told to do, and the other is the person who does no more than he or she is told to do.” ~ Andrew Carnegie
Andrew Carnegie certainly knew what it took to become a success. The steel magnate’s statement is really about going the extra mile. While there may certainly be exceptions to the rule, people who just happened to be in the right place at the right time, for the most part when we think of someone who has achieved great success, Carnegie’s statement is an absolute truth.
Michael Jordan is considered by most to be the greatest basketball player who ever played the game. He didn’t attain that status by refusing to do what he was told. And he didn’t achieve that status by doing only what he was told to do. He went the extra mile. He was the first one to hit the gym for practice and the last to leave. He certainly went the extra mile and put in the effort needed to achieve extraordinary results.
Maybe sports aren’t something you easily relate with. That’s okay, because you can look at any other field and when you find extraordinary achievement, chances are you will also see someone who did more than they were told to do. Perhaps music is your thing. Consider Dizzy Gillespie, considered to be the greatest trumpeter who ever lived. He taught himself how to play the trumpet by the age of twelve. Imagine the countless hours he must have spent honing his unique technique.
In the world of investing, no one is equal in achievement to Warren Buffet. Before he invests in a company, he goes well beyond what many would consider to be “sufficient” research. Buffet goes the extra mile and knows a company inside and out before investing.
One of the most significant figures in the medical field has been Dr. Michael DeBakey, known as the man who performed the first successful heart transplant. Lesser known about DeBakey is that he also helped develop the first mobile army surgical hospital (MASH Unit). It’s doubtful that at any time during his storied career DeBakey ever uttered the words, “That ought to be good enough.”
These are examples of people who achieved extraordinary things in their fields, but there are countless others whom we have never heard of that went the extra mile to achieve great things. Everyone knows people who refuse to do as they are told or countless others who do no more than they are told. It takes a sense of deep pride and great character to be willing to do more, just because. But it is also a matter of choice.
I’m going to shift gears for a moment. When it comes to making personal change in who are and how we do things, it is commonly referred to “reinventing yourself”. I believe where so many people fall short when it comes to reinventing is that they try to do an “extreme makeover”. That may work well for rebuilding homes, but it seldom works out when it comes to making personal change. And remember, you probably won’t achieve extraordinary success in everything you try. Remember Michael Jordan’s short-lived baseball career?
Change is difficult and when we try to force too much change upon ourselves, we become easily discouraged. Two words here; baby steps. In business, focus on doing more than you are told to do, more than you are expected to do, and more than a customer would ever dream you would do for them. Do that each day at least once. That way you are not overwhelmed with trying to force too much change and it will soon become a habit. Before you are even aware of it, you will find that you are giving every customer much more than they ever expected from you.
Andrew Carnegie was right, there are two types of people who never achieve much, but there is a third type of person that achieves a tremendous amount by going the extra mile and doing much more than what is expected of them. The choice is yours. What will you choose to do?
Monty Rainey is a District Manager with over 14 years in the self storage industry currently overseeing 21 stores in the Austin & San Antonio, TX area. He is also a leadership coach and public speaker. For a free consultation, please contact Monty at 830-743-2139 or visit his website at http://www.montyrainey.com .
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