How to Succeed in Life

Step One: Show up.

80% of life is showing up.  Isn’t that what Woody Allen said?

Step Two: Do a good enough job that you don’t get in trouble.

Most people stop here. However, those that seek greatness know there is a third step.

Step Three: Go the Extra Mile.

Be willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish the job…plus a little bit more. Take the next step to solve the problem. Even if it takes doing something that’s not in your job description, its the extra mile that separates the average person from the superstar. Be a superstar!


What is “Going the Extra Mile?”

A common misconception is that going the extra mile is about grinding down and out-working your counterparts.  Going the extra mile is not a competition or a race.  It’s creating value.  It’s sharing and giving.  It’s not winning and losing.

The Difference that a Little Extra Effort Makes

One of the greatest quotes that is used for the fundamentals is this one:

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”

~Martin Luther King Jr.

This idea that Dr. King proposes is the epitome of going the extra mile, and underneath this quote is the message: do it for yourself. What a novel idea!! Imagine being excellent, not because your job did or did not require it, but because you require it of yourself.

If you’re having trouble going the extra mile, why not just go the extra inch? Try to live by the 1% rule. Sometimes, success is simply a matter of making one small adjustment. For example, at 211 degrees, water is hot. But at 212 degrees it boils. This makes all the difference.  There is a book by Sam Parker and Mac Anderson, called 212°: the Extra Degree.  In their book they wrote,

“Raising the temperature of water by one extra degree means the difference between something that is simply very hot and something that generates enough force to power a machine—a beautiful, uncomplicated metaphor that ideally should feed every endeavor—consistently pushing us to make the extra effort in every task we undertake…. It reminds us that seemingly small things can make tremendous differences.”

Think about it:

  • The margin of victory in the Men’s 800-meter Race in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games was only 0.71 seconds—less than one second!
  • The average margin of victory in the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500 (combined) over the last ten years has been 1.54 seconds. And the prize money for second place was less than half that of first place.
  • The average margin of victory for the last 25 years in all major PGA golf tournaments combined was less than three strokes.

The point is that it doesn’t take that much extra effort to win first place. What could you do if you were willing to push just a little bit more and break ahead of the pack?

Follow Your Effort, and Your Passion Will Too!

“Follow Your Passion” is easily the worst advice you could ever give or get. What a cop out!

Why?  Because everyone is passionate about something.  Usually more than 1 thing.  We are born with it.  There are always going to be things we love to do, and that we dream about doing.  That we really want to do with our lives.  Most of the time it doesn’t involve work. Those passions aren’t worth a nickel.

Think about all the things you have been passionate about in your life. Think about all those passions that you considered making a career out of or building your life around.  How many were/are there?  Why did you bounce from one to another?  Why were you not able to make a career out of any of those passions?  Or if you have been able to have some success, what was the key to the success? Was it the passion or the effort you put in to your job?

If you really want to know where you destiny lies, look at where you apply your time.

Time is the most valuable asset you don’t own. You may or may not realize it yet, but how you use or don’t use your time is going to be the best indication of where your future is going to take you.

If you want to find your passion, remember that effort is a catalyst for success:

  1. When you work hard at something you become good at it.
  2. When you become good at doing something, you will enjoy it more.
  3. When you enjoy doing something, there is a very good chance you will become passionate or more passionate about it.
  4. When you are good at something, passionate and work even harder to excel and be the best at it, good things happen.

Don’t follow your passions, follow your effort. It will lead you to your passions and to success, however you define it.

Is It Worth the Extra Effort?

Despite all the great rewards you’ll get by going the extra mile, very few do.  Why not?  Because it’s hard.  It’s not required.  It’s different.  It requires effort.  It causes people to look at you funny.  Have you ever gone out of your way to do something nice for someone and they look at you like you have two heads?  That’s OK.  It re-emphasizes that you’re different.  You’re uncommon, scarce, and most importantly, valuable!

Sir Isaac Newton’s 3rd law of motion is: “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

When you give more, you get more.   The gifts you give always come back to you (usually much greater) in return.  Maybe not today, this week, or this year, but eventually they will come back.  They may be in the form of a promotion, compensation, opportunity, a handshake, or a hug.   But most importantly, giving makes you happy. It makes you feel good. And you get that feeling immediately.

The next time you see someone going the extra mile – take a second to appreciate them.

Give them a bit of praise.  Give them a compliment.  Let them know that you noticed. Studies show that if you take the time to give someone a compliment you actually end up feeling some of the elation yourself and really, who doesn’t want that?