There Ain't No Traffic on the Extra Mile
I was about 22 years old when I heard Rick Goldberg say that at a Clairol/Logics national sales meeting, and it has been a secret of my success to this day.
I was born in the ’60s and grew up in the ’70s before graduating high school in 1985, and I learned life is not always the "normal" we hoped for. In the 1970s, sky-rocketing inflation caused many restaurants to use stickers on their menus that allowed them to raise prices weekly to keep up with costs. There was also gas rationing—my parents would wait in lines for hours to get gas and then only on certain days based on an odd- or even-numbered license plate. I learned that every day my parents went the extra mile just to keep our family going.
Heck, my grandparents went through the depression, rationing during World War 2 with Victory Gardens, helped rebuild our bankrupt nation by purchasing war bonds and many went back to school if no work could be found. Their generation understood the extra mile is what makes us great.
Today it’s different, though we are in (hopefully coming out of as we speak) what is now know to be the “Great Recession,” so many people expect what was norm in the ’90s was normal. Sorry, now you can't just buy stock and have it go up no matter what, you can’t buy a house and have it triple in value in less than 10 years and no, you can’t just show up and just have a clientele. This is not bad, it is normal. We just forgot that it always takes hard work to succeed, and a good idea.
The movie The Karate Kid is being remade, I think the timing is perfect, and Will Smith knew it.
So many of us today expect instant success, master something by watching a few videos and learn how to be great with a little practice. Never mind the small stuff, who needs that? WE DO! It is the small stuff that makes us great. Like in the original Karate Kid when the old man asks the young kid to wash all his cars, then wax all his cars and finally paint his fence, all in a very specific way. Daniel, the young karate student, probably worked a full day longer than most people trying to learn the same skills today, but he too gave up on his master because he wanted to learn the cool stuff, not clean and paint.
You cannot download all learning and all learning is not fun all the time. Here’s the truth—everything we do that pushes us, helps us to learn.
The extra mile, the entire collection of cars that were washed and wax, plus the large fence that was painted (both sides) did give the young learner the foundation that later let him overcome the superior flash and bravado of his opponent.
For my team, it is the same. We do photo shoots, fashion shows and soirees that test our skills in different ways, from time challenges to recreating other classic/iconic images and working off briefs that are created by other friends to challenge ourselves. All these experiences make us better at what we do.
Some people don’t get that extra work make us better, even though it does not always make sense to us at the time.
Time after time, the people that get it, or at least those that have faith in their mentors, always end up with the edge to go one step further. Just look at any top member of our industry, it is the extra mile of work that puts them over on top.