We hear a lot about going the extra mile. To me, that mantra needs some context. It is like saying, “The customer is always right.” It’s not true. Customers are wrong sometimes as well. Likewise, going the extra mile is a great idea but can also be a bad business move. Here is where you can find yourself in murky waters trying to go the extra mile:
- Takers. Takers are people who are eager to get things for free or at someone else’s cost. If you go the extra mile for a taker your actions only invite more effort or work. The extra mile can turn into hundreds of miles.
- The entitlement mentality. Doing a favor or a kind gesture can turn into an entitlement. What was a gift can become an expectation. I have seen it happen many times and it ceases to surprise me how this slippery dynamic works.
- Ingratitude. You might as well save your energy. Your enthusiasm can get quickly killed from ungrateful people. They may say, “Thanks,” with their lips, but their motives and thoughts are not truly there with you. It’s insidious and highly demotivating.
If you do go the extra mile, be sure to assess who you are doing it for. People that only see what they can get rather than appreciate a gift cheapen your thoughtfulness. Every situation is different for sure. Proceed cautiously. If you go the extra mile for someone that truly finds value and appreciation in the gesture and work, keep going. It is highly rewarding and makes business and relationships fun.
Sometimes, even with the harsh realities of the miserliness of people, it may even be good to go the extra mile. It’s not necessarily for them, but for yourself. You can live with yourself knowing you sought to make a difference regardless of any reciprocity.
In any case, I think it’s important to be circumspect and apply wisdom. The schemes and motivations of people help to frame what is worth doing many times.
What are your thoughts?