Episode 187 – The Power of the Extra Mile
Steve Shallenberger: Welcome to the Becoming Your Best podcast listeners, wherever you might be today. May this message find you doing well. We decided to entitle it, “The Power of the Extra Mile”, and the vision of this podcast is Good, Better, Best. The BEST is going the Extra Mile! When you, or me, decide to Anticipate and Do – in other words, act – the best, in your behalf for others, like family, organization, and friends, the world changes for good, just as the light of the Sun lights a universe, and things are different. This is the POWER of the EXTRA MILE! You model it and it becomes part of the culture, as others choose to go the Extra Mile. Choose BEST over Good and Better.
Steve Shallenberger: Now, I’d like to really get going today and illustrate this point, relating the story of Susan. Roxanne and I, with three of our children, had been away from our home, for three years, living in Madrid, Spain as a Mission President for our church. We had taken off a 3-year Sabbatical from work to do this service, as we had been asked and invited to do. During that time, we supervised 500 remarkable and extraordinary missionaries. They did service, humanitarian good and lifted and built people wherever they could find the opportunity to do so. We decided to have our college-aged children, their cousins, and friends live in our home in our absence and we hoped our home would still be standing upon our return.
Steve Shallenberger: When we came home, exhausted after three years of intense service, our first order of business was to get our home back in shape. We had been home only a couple of days when there was a knock at our front door. It was a neighbor and friend, Susan. She said, “I am here to help! Where can I start?” She then questioned, “How about if I clean the kitchen, including all of the cupboards?” We said that that would be most appreciated as we were already exhausted and welcomed the help. It was so good of her to be here. Two to three hours later, Susan was finished and left. We were so grateful and have NEVER forgotten her service to our family, especially in a time of need. Thank you, Susan, for going the extra mile! And of course, there had been other examples like that, for which we are deeply grateful.
Steve Shallenberger: So what does it take to go the Extra Mile? I would like to suggest at least two things that help us go the extra mile. One is to Anticipate, and a little definition on ‘anticipate’, that would be to pause, to observe, to think, and to align. In other words, anticipate the situation and Do! In other words, take action. Once we anticipate and see a need, then we take action, just like Susan did. Now, I call that, the acronym for Anticipate and Do, “AD”. I like the acronym of AD. A.D. has another meaning, in addition to attention deficit disorder. That’s not the one that I am referring to, although I may have been accused of having A.D. The AD that I’m thinking of, that’s another example, stands for Anno Domini, which is Latin for “year of our Lord,” and it means the number of years since the birth of Jesus Christ. That was a little more than, of course, as you know, 2000 years ago, so the date 500 A.D. means 500 after 2000 years ago or a little more than 1500 years ago. So it just gives us a time of reckoning. As you can imagine on the BC-AD timeline, the years before Jesus was born are BC – Before Christ and BC goes backward from year 1 and then AD is going forward.
Steve Shallenberger: The AD that I am talking about, this habit of anticipating with those things, pausing, reflecting, slowing it down a little bit, and then, doing. In other words, being aware of a need and then acting upon that need. The AD – Anticipating, Doing I’m talking about, today, can have a significant impact on our lives as we go forward.
Steve Shallenberger: To effectively practice AD, Anticipating and Doing, it requires you to “slow down” a bit and to be sure that you are reflecting on the things that matter most: your life, other’s lives, and your organization or the organizations that you are associated with. In a sense, in the business world, we are talking about engagement. Research indicates that about 34% of employees are engaged in their work. This is always a shocking number! In other words, it just doesn’t happen, by nature, its something that we create the conditions for engagement, to release the best within our employees, to bring out the greatest potential, to provide an environment where they would like to be. In other words, these employees that are engaged, get up and they are excited to go to work and make a difference.
Steve Shallenberger: This is part of our job of leadership, is to know how to move that up, that percentage, up to 50-60-70% of our employees and associates, to deeply impact a culture of engagement. Our observation is, it all starts with people, with the individual. If our mantra was anything today, for this podcast, it would be AD and EM. In other words, anticipate, be aware of the circumstances, and do something about it, just like Susan did, and be an Extra Miler – EM. These produce the Power of the Extra Mile. And this is what I was referring to at the beginning of this podcast. The Power of the Extra Mile is like the power of the Sun! It’s an energy that impacts everything around it. I’d like to provide some examples of the Power of the Extra Mile and examples of people doing, anticipating and doing.
Steve Shallenberger: The first one is Murphy. These could be simple things! Murphy is a part of the Becoming Your Best team. He is the Director of Operations. Every Friday, the garbage comes in our area. So, one of the things that we do is on Thursday, we empty all of our garbage cans in the office. I mean, we’re still at the size that we can do it ourselves, it is a piece of cake! And then, we have the dumpster close by, so no worries. Well, I frequently have done it in the past, but I’ve noticed that Murphy has been on Thursday, just initiating to do it himself. That is the Extra Mile! It’s probably, really, not even in his job description, but he is initiating it. Somebody has to do it. Now, if he wouldn’t, I would, but him going the extra mile, makes my life happier and allows me to focus on other things, that also matter most. This is how we do this as a team.
Steve Shallenberger: In terms of another example with Murphy – he said, “I’ve been looking at the schedule for the next three months to six months, and I want to be sure all of the materials are available for our seminars or events that are coming up, that would go to our client or our certified trainers.” He said, “Would you mind if we go over the schedule and expectations, just to be sure I know the quantities and what needs to be delivered?” That is going the Extra Mile. It’s anticipating the questions that a client might have or an apprehension that I might have, the boss may have or an associate, or a Direct Report, any of those. Now, Murphy does a great job at this, but this could be Rob or Dave, Carli, Tom, Dan, Anne, Steven, Danielle, Jim, Doug, Jeff, Julie, Russ, Sal, Rosemary and so forth. What an appreciation I have when employees, this is the culture, start thinking this way: What does the Extra Mile look like? What does the Best look like? It’s not just the good or the better, we’re delighted to have that, in the spirit of engagement, but it’s when we start thinking of the best, this is the zone, this is the area of going the extra mile!
Steve Shallenberger: Another good example of this is one of the processes that we teach to clients everywhere and within our own organizations, is the 6-Step Process. It’s a problem-solving process, it’s called the transformation challenge, because we take the challenge to transform things, to make them good, better and best. And this is done through the 6-Step Process of planning and execution. Matt is one of the Executives of Synergy and he has really worked to practice this in his own life, and then, to teach the rest of our key associates how to do this. Well, this is a perfect example of going the extra mile, where Matt learns the process and applies it, so this allows him to get the best type of solutions, the way to develop best opportunities. But he didn’t leave it there alone, he deeply taught all of the other managers and key people, within their division, how to apply the 6 steps.
Steve Shallenberger: And what was very interesting is, we talk about the Power of going the Extra Mile. In other words, it’s this radiance that comes out as we do it, as we model it, that impacts everything and everybody else. Well, this then, became a cultural impact, as the employees started applying going the extra mile, doing the best – and how did they do this? Well, on their own initiative! When an issue came up or an opportunity, they called themselves together and applied the 6 steps. One day, Matt was walking by an office, and he noticed a number of the key leaders in the office, working on an issue, and they were applying the 6-Step Process. In other words, what’s the vision? What’s the current reality? What’s the cause of the problem? What are the options to solve the problem? And now to set up a plan to do it, and evaluate how it went. That’s essentially it. Here they were, they solved the problem. And they said, “Let’s go to work and solve it!” And rather than bringing problems to their supervisor, their Direct Reports, they brought potential solutions. See what a game-changer that this is?
Steve Shallenberger: Let me use one other example with Synergy, with the Leaders and Managers, our Division Managers. Dave Clark and I are partners, he is an amazing partner! We’ve now been partners for over 35 years. Those who know us, know what respect and admiration I have for Dave. A number of years ago, maybe seven to 10 years ago, one of the things, as Dave and I would visit different offices, we would say, “How do we help these wonderful, capable, Division Managers, think like we think? How do we help them, when they wake up in the morning, to think about the issues that are on our minds?” And so, this became the topic of discussion: what are the type of things we think about in that Division every day? What are the questions we have? How many associates do we have in play, that are in Estimators or Sales, and how many Technicians do we have, and how many jobs have they done? How many jobs fell through? How do we improve that? So, all of these types of questions for a successful operation, rather than us asking the Manager, is training the Manager, to think that way in the first place. And this is not an easy thing. You don’t just flip the switch. But as we worked on it, these extraordinary managers were so amazing, they started doing exactly that. That is the Extra Mile! That is the flip of the switch, where they are taking charge.
Steve Shallenberger: We’ve noticed that this has happened: they now say, “What are the type of questions Dave may have? He may be asking me, ‘do them in advance.’ ” And we have seen a progression of that becoming a reality. That is the Extra Mile MINDSET. And it’s always a work in process, of course, as an organization goes from good, better, best, and isn’t complacent, we’re realizing that, in order to stay very competitive. This has to become cultural, and we have to keep asking the same type of questions. And so, it’s working with the people first, this then impacts the culture, the office, the Sales, the Technicians, Estimators, Crew Chiefs, Warehouse Manager, whatever your organization looks like, but you can see how it shifts an entire organization. And then, this organization becomes a top tier division or company as this is done. This is the Power of the Extra Mile. It’s a way to think about things. And who does not want their employees to think like this? In other words, how can I BEST serve the customer? They’re not waiting for somebody else to tell you that. They’re thinking of these ideas on their own. How can I BEST lighten the load of my manager today? Or somebody that works for me? Interested in helping another individual release their brakes. Well, this is perfect for parents or friends, this is what great leaders do! All of us! And so, if we see a challenge or somebody gets off track, or we’re trying to help a child or an associate, a fellow worker, or an employee release their brakes, become the best that they can, what does the Extra Mile look like? How do we Anticipate, Stop and Reflect, think about and then Do, come up with the actions that lift and build and inspire?
Steve Shallenberger: How about if someone gets off track? How do you go the Extra Mile with them? One of the ways to do it, is with the Relationship Agreement, especially if you’re in a professional relationship with them, it could be a civic organization, but definitely, in a business organization or a professional group. And so, we ask with the Relationship Agreement, what is the Vision? And what are we trying to accomplish together? And sometimes, when somebody gets off track, it’s a big issue or it’s a problem, and the best way to start off with this is, what are we trying to accomplish? Where do we go in the future? And yes, it’s important what has happened yesterday, but far more important is what happens tomorrow.
Steve Shallenberger: In one of the organizations that I am associated with, one employee recently “totally went off” on another key employee, saying things such as, “I don’t want anything to do with you!” These people actually work in the same office. Their responsibilities require them to be on the same team. So, what to do? Well, putting in place a Relationship Agreement and focusing on where we go from here in terms of engagement, really helps with that kind of an issue. And so, essentially is this – what’s the vision of what we want to accomplish together, versus a job description. Those are far different, which is, the second one is limiting. Number two is, the reward system – how is this person rewarded? Whatever that looks like, their salary, their wage, any benefits that might be there. And number three, what are the Guidelines and No-Nos. And then, the last one is the accountability. So those are the four steps of the Relationship Agreement. Quite simple but deeply profound.
Steve Shallenberger: So, in this case, what you can put with this person is, “Here’s what we’re trying to accomplish together, and make it inspiring, that’s the vision, and when you get to the guidelines and no-no’s, say, “Here is what this job is all about.” And one of the things that we do is we treat each person with respect, consideration, and understanding. And one of the no-no’s is that we don’t talk negatively about anyone in their absence. As a matter of fact, we have an issue, we take it to the person, and deal with it in a professional way. That is the guideline, and the no-no is that we don’t do the opposite of that. And that could be grounds for no longer working together. So we want to be clear on these things. That’s the Extra Mile! We think about how to positively lift everybody that we associate with.
Steve Shallenberger: As a parent, there is definitely a pretty high degree of AD and EM. In other words, anticipation of possibilities, and doing, right? And also, going the Extra Mile it’s called long-suffering, patience, kindness, innovation, and love. That sounds like an Extra Mile to me.
Steve Shallenberger: Another good example of this, the Power of the Extra Mile, is Aunt Beverly. She is my aunt on my mother’s side. She occasionally writes or calls me. And this isn’t infrequent, by the way! And she would just say, “I have been thinking about you. How are you doing?” I just have the feeling that my aunt Beverly has my back. That if I ever need to call anyone, I can call Aunt Bev. The same with her husband, Uncle Ralph, or others, but isn’t this great? Isn’t that the Power of the Extra Mile? She doesn’t have to call, she doesn’t have to write, she has her own family, many things to do. This is a wonderful example of this.
Steve Shallenberger: Another thing is to be sure to follow your impressions. In other words, Anticipate – think, reflect, and observe, just pause for a moment – and Do. Act upon that impression that you have. I received an email from a forum mate and friend, just the other day, of encouragement. It took him “seconds”, but it was an extra mile and has been such a huge boost to me during what has been a trying time on an issue that we’re dealt. We’re all dealt different cards in life, and so we have to deal with these cards and how grateful I was for that simple effort of someone feeling an impression, writing, doing something about it, to anticipate what the situation is and doing something! Thank you to that, friend!
Steve Shallenberger: So what is your Extra Mile for your own life? For others? Your organization? What does it look like? Some are one-time acts, and another is just a way of thinking or how we do things on a long-term basis of producing outstanding results. How can you consistently exercise the power of going the Extra Mile? And I know the Power is the result. And so, how do we consistently go the Extra Mile? How can you anticipate and do – the AD? Well, decide in your mind that you will choose the BEST, over good and better. Eliminate the bad, for sure! Blowing up, or shouting, or going off on someone or something, or being impatient, or losing your cool, or criticizing or blaming another. You can do good and better — the EXTRA MILE — that is the BEST!
Steve Shallenberger: As I reflected upon those questions that I just asked: How can I consistently go the Extra Mile? The EM, AD – Anticipate and Do. One thing that you can do is practice living the Becoming Your Best and the 12 Principles of Highly Successful Leaders. I don’t mean to be trite or simple in any way. But these are based on 40 years of research, of powerful principles that are game-changers, that have a predictable response for good, for excellence, and not in a simplistic way, but this is something that you can do. And it is a foot in the sand of how you can get going! So, one principle per week! That’s all it takes! It doesn’t have to be complicated. So you can be relentless and one day you wake up and you are better, you are doing it. You have formed a new habit towards going the Extra Mile. And the RESULT is the Power of the Extra Mile, just like the SUN.
Steve Shallenberger: For example, “Lead with a Vision” is one of the 12 principles. “Manage with a plan” – this is setting goals. And doing “Pre-week planning”. Those three things, I call these, “the stack of three things” creates a perpetual fusion of the Power of the Sun. This creates the molten lava! With the stack in place, year in and year out, week in and week out, it provides this “pause” to the Anticipate and the Do. It creates the framework for you to do this and it’s pretty straightforward. It’s developing your vision, you do it one time in life. You might make edits or adjustments, but you have it on a sheet of paper! It’s doing annual goals, you do it once a year, doesn’t take that long, but by each role, here are the most important things for me to do, that help me realize my vision. And then, three is Pre-week planning. Just pausing a few minutes during the week, thinking of your roles, and saying, what actions, there we are, this is the process of anticipation and actions that I can take, that helps me go the extra mile, to do my best!
Steve Shallenberger: As you reflect on the other of the 12 principles, “Live the Golden Rule”, or “Building Trust – using the Trust Meter” or “Listening to Understand”, which informs your anticipation, or “Innovating with Imagination”, which informs your to do, creative things that you can do”, to “Learn to Live in Peace and Balance”, and certainly, to “Never Give Up” because it takes time. As you can see, these are transformational principles. Simple, right? Well, no, we consistently go after it. Many of you have already been working on these principles and feeling the power of them in your life. They are as true to you as day follows night!
Steve Shallenberger: As a result of this podcast, I decided to make a “cheat sheet” for myself, to remember the 12 principles, so I made up a new bookmark. I’m going to put this, I’m going to print off a number of copies and laminate them, and just put them in different places. So if you would like a copy of my new cheat-sheet, the new bookmark that I have made, just write to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will send you a copy of the bookmark. You can have it laminated if you would like, put it in several places, but it will reinforce this type of things, that help us to remember to EM – go the Extra Mile, and AD – Anticipate and Do around what matters most and the resolve that we have to do that.
Steve Shallenberger: You and I, all of us, we can work on The Power of the Extra Mile, together. You and I, all of us, can work on the AD- the Anticipate and Do, together. Just like Becoming Your Best is not a comparison to someone else or someone else’s best, this is about you Becoming Your Best! This is the way the Extra Mile is. It’s not somebody else’s Extra Mile, it is your Extra Mile. That is when the Power of the Extra Mile -The SUN – this radiance, kicks in. People may not even be aware of your actions, they may be quiet and anonymous actions, but you know, and the radiance goes forth. We are not talking about perfection here, we are talking about doing our best and then being at peace for that effort! The result is that you, and I, will be happier, more fulfilled, healthier, and part of the Power of the Extra Mile, is greater prosperity.
Steve Shallenberger: I started this podcast today with Susan’s simple act of knocking on our door. “I am here to help. How can I help?” Don’t you love that question? But a different question is, “Is there anything I can do to help you?” Sometimes we say that and wait for the answer. Susan took it a step further and that is the Power of the Extra Mile action, and that is the example that has been to us, now, as we have fondly remembered that experience, for almost 20 years. Pretty straightforward! Quite simple. AD and EM. Anticipate, just pausing, just for a moment, reflecting the stack of three, and the Extra Mile, the EM.
Steve Shallenberger: We wish each one of you all the BEST, as you experience the Power of the Extra Mile first-hand, in your life and those that are blessed by the radiance of your life and leadership. Wishing you a great day, this is Steve Shallenberger, with Becoming Your Best!