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Monday, June 8, 2009

Going the 3rd Mile

You've all probably heard the saying "going the 2nd mile" in reference to efforts that people make to exceed the norm.

I would challenge all those who think going the 2nd mile is enough when it comes to service and providing a true "out of this world" experience.

When I was a teenager, I went to an event where the late Grady Nutt spoke. Grady Nutt was a Christian comedian and he was a pretty funny guy. One idea he shared has stayed with me for more than 30 years.

Grady talked about true service and he referenced the 2nd mile which comes from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount in the Bible.

You don't have to be a Christian or even a religious person to appreciate what Grady had to say. I'll do my best to help you get the picture since the details of the story are long gone for me.

During the era of the Roman Empire, Roman soldiers were allowed to carry out impressment on the citizens of the occupied or "protected" countries where the soldiers were stationed (If you know your American history, you might also recognize the term because British Navy ships were stopping American merchant ships and impressing American sailors to serve on their of the tensions that helped lead to the War of 1812). Anyway, the Roman soldiers could "task" any of the non-Roman citizens to carry their very heavy packs for a Roman mile. When the mile was completed, if the soldier had any distance to travel, he'd have to "impress" another man into carrying his gear.
Picture a local citizen being made to carry the pack of a Roman soldier for that first mile, doing his duty. As they get to that first mile mark, the soldier is waiting for that bag to slide off the citizen's shoulder and land on the ground. Hopefully, it didn't have anything breakable in it because it might have had trouble surviving the fall.

Imagine the soldier's surprise when the citizen keeps carrying the pack past mile marker #1, doing more than his duty. Some questioning is seeping into that soldier's mind. Some grudging respect for a man of principles is starting to form.

Picture the soldier's grudging respect turning into admiration as mile marker #2 is passed and the pack is still on the citizen's back. The soldier understands that, in some way, this citizen sees value in the soldier and in doing his absolute best for another human being.

By the time the two part company, the soldier's day has been made. He's not just another occupier and the citizen is not just another face in the crowd. A relationship has been formed.
In a nutshell,
Mile 1: You've done your duty

Mile 2: You've earned the other person's respect

Mile 3: You've made someone's day and probably also made a friend.
Folks, we have an opportunity to make peoples' days all the WOW and exceed expectations. This can apply to customer service or it can be about how each of us live our lives.

If we truly believe in giving the people around us the best that we have, then we need to think about going that 3rd mile. Figure out what the 3rd mile is for those you come into contact with, whether it's in your personal or professional life...and then work on it, every day.

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