Archive for September, 2009

Go the Second Mile!

Friday, September 11th, 2009

This is the third in a series of articles on character, excerpted from my new book, How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK: A Biblical Blueprint to Bless Your Business. The first two installments of the series are, Are Your Pants on Fire? and, Keep Your Commitments! This week I will discuss going the second mile.

From “Just Enough” to “And then Some”! Most people wouldn’t regard doing only what you are required to do as a character flaw, but THE BOOK instructs otherwise (see Luke 17:7-10). Sadly, an overwhelming number of managers I’ve asked over the years affirm that in their experience, a majority of their employees fall under the category of “just enough” workers. They do just enough to get by; just enough to get paid; just enough not to get fired. This puts a premium value on leaders and subordinates alike who have an, “and then some” mindset. They do what is required, and then some; hit their goals and then some; deliver what they promised and then some. Which best describes your own work ethic: “just enough” or “and then some”? If it’s “just enough”, my guess is that those who follow you emulate your half-hearted effort. On the other hand, if you’re a second-miler, you probably have attracted, inspired and are retaining the same because the speed of the leader is the speed of the pack.

I am blessed with an abundance of friends in business with net worth’s ranging into the billions of dollars. Most of these men and women will readily admit that they are no smarter than their less successful counterparts. They simply outwork them, outthink them, and as a result outperform them. They found that by doing what others were unwilling to do; going where they were unwilling to go; saying what they were unwilling to say, learning what they were unwilling to learn and risking what they were unwilling to risk provided a success and lifestyle that the “just enough” crowd is unable to attain. To quote author and motivator, Zig Ziglar, “There is no traffic jam on the second mile.” This is true because the majority of folks have trouble limping through the first mile, much less bothering themselves with the exertion that would come from going farther.

By THE BOOK Lesson: Going the first mile fulfills an obligation. By going the second mile you earn the right to influence others.

What the Difference a Mile Makes! In Biblical times, there was open animosity between the Roman authorities and their Jewish subjects. Laws that required a Jew to carry the heavy pack for a Roman soldier one mile only made matters worse. So you can imagine the astonishment at Jesus’ teaching that they were to go the second mile! During the first mile there would probably be very little conversation between the Roman and the Jew. In fact, the soldier would most likely regard the burden bearer as a mere servant and suspect him of inward grumbling because the task he performed fulfilled a legal obligation. Imagine the Roman soldier’s total surprise, when at the end of one mile, the servant would say, “I want to carry your pack a second mile.” No longer would the Jew be viewed merely as a servant but as a friend. The conversation would have a whole new basis for significance and would no doubt begin with this question: “Why are you doing this?” The Jewish man would then be able to explain the teaching he learned. And because this teaching had changed his life, the soldier would be open to hearing more. The second mile would earn the Jew a hearing that would open the door for him to influence authorities. The same is true for you, regardless of your position in your organization. You can give one thousand speeches on hard work and dedication, but they will never match the impact you make or the opportunity to witness that you earn when you go the second mile because people will be able to go from listening to your sermon to watching it.

To build a rock solid character, practice going the second mile by doing the following:

  1. Accept the concept that each day you do less than you can, you become less than you are: personally and in the eyes of others.
  2. Embrace the promise of Galatians 6:9: And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.
  3. Realize that you may be one phone call away; one skill away; one discipline away or one effort away from your next breakthrough. Make your goal to be totally used up when you die; leaving this earth with no regrets; no “I should haves”, no “I could haves” and no “If only I would haves”.

Excerpted from How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK: A Biblical Blueprint to Bless Your Organization.” 

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