Let me share a story with you, which is close to my heart. In the ancient times, there was a king who wanted to see if there is any good Samaritan in his empire. He placed a boulder in the middle of the road and hid in the bushes nearby. He wanted to see if anyone would move the boulder out of the way or would only blame the king for it. Some of the wealthiest merchants in the empire and courtiers passed by and simply walked around it. Many of them even blamed the king for not keeping the roads clear, but none of them did anything about getting the boulder removed. However, a few days later, a peasant came along while going to work on his farm from his home. When he reached the boulder, the peasant tried to push the stone out of the way and after much efforts and straining, he finally managed to get the road clear of the boulder. To his surprise, he noticed a purse lying where the boulder had been placed. The purse contained many gold coins along with a handwritten note from the king saying that the purse was for the person who removed the boulder from the road. Everyone walking down that road managed to reach their destination; while others chose to ignore the problems on the way and left it for others to tackle, the peasant made an attempt to solve the problem not just for himself but for everyone else walking down this path. This is what made him worthy of the reward.
The peasant’s story is similar to that of the 16th American President, Abraham Lincoln. When he became the President, the US was a house divided in itself with people ready to kill their countrymen on the question of whether slavery should be permitted in the US or not. As the nation’s President, he had two choices—he could have gone about his job without solving the problem that was eating up the entire nation, leaving it for the next President to tackle it or he could have concentrated all his energy towards solving this problem. He chose the latter, thus cementing himself as one of the most legendary world leaders of all times. Even if he would not have worked to solve the slavery problem of the country, he would have still been the US President, but he chose to go the extra mile to stand apart. This presents an extremely important learning for all of you. Walking the extra mile brings you much closer to excellence.
If you are okay with being ordinary, simply follow the path (or examples) of ordinary people, but if you want to be extraordinary, follow the path (or examples) of extraordinary people. Unlike what people think, doing extraordinary tasks doesn’t require a humungous effort. It rather only needs some courage and determination. For instance, if you are engaging in a group study session, go the extra mile to help others who might be stuck on a problem that you can easily solve. Share your successful approach with others since this would only enhance your standing and make you more confident of handling such problems. As a student, giving up your social media accounts when the exams are near or revising the syllabus one more time even when you are feeling confident are some of the simplest ways of walking the extra mile which can bring rich dividends. Such an approach can bring a lot of positive changes to your result in exchange of little efforts. It acts as a significantly positive influence on your work and the atmosphere around you. Not just this, it also gives you a sense of purpose, thereby increasing your own positive energy.
If there is one overwhelming reason to go the extra mile, it is to make sure that you feel better about yourself. We all want to be that person who looks in the mirror in the morning and sees an achiever. This self-confidence is a by-product of going the extra mile when all the other competitors are content with the bare minimum requirement. One of the other advantages of working harder is a chance to correct your own mistakes. Everyone is bound to make mistakes at some point of time. What sets people apart is their ability to correct them quicker than others. This is where people who work harder have an upper hand. They are in a much better position to assess their work and make corrections, if and when needed. Thus, go the extra mile to reach the top of the pyramid.