‘Going the extra mile’ is often said in conjunction with customer service. I think more specifically when we are receiving a service from business as opposed to giving it. Going the extra mile is doing something more than what is expected. Depending on the context it could be:
- Staying late/going in early to finish an important project
- Giving up your time to volunteer
- Mentoring someone
- Sorting out a problem for someone else
- Listening to a friend in need
- Making a random act of kindness
What going the extra mile means to me
You know the kind of things. In fact, you may have experienced them yourself – when has someone else gone the extra mile for you and what does going the extra mile mean to you? For me, it’s where assistance is offered (and often given) without expecting anything in return.
When we are kind to others, when we’re generous, when we give others the benefit of the doubt we lift the other person up. We also raise ourselves. Going the extra mile is a bit like gratitude, it doesn’t need to take much effort but it makes a big difference.
“It’s never crowded along the extra mile” – Wayne Dyer
A helping hand on my career path
I always think that the best way to demonstrate something is to tell a story so I want to tell you a story of how someone went the extra mile for me.
Pointing me in the right direction
When I was made redundant I found myself being talked into attending a networking event at the local Royal Society of Chemistry network (for those of you who don’t know, my background is in chemistry). I attended rather reluctantly and met the careers adviser at the time, whose name was Caroline. We chatted for a bit; I was fishing for careers advice! It turned out that all members of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) receive free careers advice anyway! Caroline suggested that I look into careers advice as a career option and so I did. The more I looked into it, the more interested I became.
A listening ear
As time went on, I realised this is what I wanted to do. Lots of people thought I was making the wrong decision because they said I would be wasting my degree. I kept chatting to Caroline who reminded me that this wasn’t about them; this was all about me! She checked my CV and pointed me in the direction of jobs, giving me loads of advice on what it was really like to be a careers adviser. I was so grateful. Then, a job came up working for her and she told me about it. I had to apply in the proper manner and was interviewed and I got it.
Words of wisdom
I panicked on my first day and said to Caroline, what if I am rubbish at this? What if I regret my decision to move out of chemistry? Caroline nodded sagely and said ‘You won’t be rubbish but if you don’t enjoy it you have around 18 months before it would be difficult to go back”. I never forgot that. In fact, I say it to my clients all the time.
It’s more than ‘just’ doing your job
Now, you might read this and say – well, she was just doing her job. Aye, she was but she didn’t have to give me as much ‘help’ as she did. She could have set me off on the path and then retreated into the distance but she didn’t. I credited her with helping me get the job at the RSC and again, you could say that I did it – which would be true but she advocated for me, something she didn’t have to do.
As a careers adviser and now coach I know it doesn’t take much effort to do the things that Caroline did for me and it is technically part of the job but it means so much to the person on the other end. As a coach now it is always my intention to go the extra mile for the clients that I work with, just as Caroline did for me.
There are numerous other examples in my life from Barefoot Coaching providing me with special snacks to accommodate my IBS, to my friends taking my kids for playdates when I need to work or more crucially when I need to rest. The bottom line is that going the extra mile means to be kind, generous, humble. We all have the capacity to do that.