One of the worst things in every city on planet earth is rush hour traffic. No one likes to sit in traffic and spend an hour or two longer on the road than necessary. We all try to avoid the rush hour traffic as much as we can. I know quite a few people who are already at their desks at six o’clock in the morning just because they want to avoid the rush hour traffic. But there is a stretch of road where there will never be a traffic jam. This peace of road is called the “extra mile.” There will never be a traffic jam on this road simply because very few people choose to travel on this road. It is the one road that is travelled least of all.

In Ancient Roman times it was law that a Roman soldier had the right to force anyone who was not a Roman citizen to carry his personal load. But the law also stated that the soldier could not force that person to carry the load for more than one mile. During those times clearly marked stones were planted next to the road that indicated the end of and beginning of a new mile. Any person who was unfortunate enough to be cornered by a soldier and was ordered to carry his load, had no choice but to oblige, but they also knew very well that they could only be forced to do it for one mile, after that they had the right to put it down and walk away.

It was because of this practice by the Roman soldiers, and especially because the soldiers loved to order a Jew to carry their load for a mile, that Jesus taught his disciples in Matthew 5:41 “And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles”. This teaching by Jesus was very radical and totally different from the norm, no one in those times would even consider voluntarily carrying a soldiers load for an extra mile. Jesus wanted to teach his disciples to live a higher life.

Even today very few people are willing to do anything more than they are obligated to do. You always hear people say: “It is not my job”, or “I don’t get paid to do this.” It is exactly here where you have an exceptional opportunity to put yourself in an excellent position to excel in life. If you would be willing to “walk the extra mile”, to discipline yourself to develop the habit of regularly doing more than you are asked to do, you are setting yourself up for exceptional opportunities to come your way.

I have heard it said by so many different people, Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracy, Jim Rohn and others, that if you would be willing to always do more than you are currently being paid to do, the day will come when you will be paid for what you are doing. And besides that, if you habitually give more than what is expected of you, you are more likely to receive promotions, raises, bonuses, and extra benefits. You also won’t need to worry about job security. You’ll always be the first person hired and the last one to get fired.

This doesn’t mean that you will always like doing extra, your natural tendency will be to do as little as possible, like most people. To do only what you have to in order to keep your job. All people would rather do that, which is why the extra mile is never crowded. It is the road least travelled.

This is one of the biggest reasons why some people are successful in life and others are not. Successful people make a habit of doing the things that other people don’t like to do. It doesn’t mean that they like doing it, on the contrary, but they make a choice to do it, in order to be able to achieve in the long run what other people will not be able to achieve. If you want to be extraordinary you must be willing to do things that ordinary people are not willing to do. After all, the difference between ordinary and extraordinary is “extra”.

Be willing to take on more work than your peers and then work as hard as possible. This was the philosophy of Paul Hogan, the actor from the hit movie Crocodile Dundee, he said: “Bite of more than you can chew and then chew like mad.” It doesn’t matter what field you are in, if you are willing to do extra, if you are willing to do more than the others, you will excel, and rise above them. Your talents are no guarantee that you will succeed in life. I love the way John Maxwell put it in his book Talent is never enough: “Your talent will give you an opportunity, but you must remember that the room it makes is only temporary.”Your willingness to take the road less travelled and go the extra mile is what will make all the difference in the end.

I want to close with what Steve Alford, an MBA player who was with Michael Jordan on the Olympic Basketball team, had to say about Michael Jordan: “When I played with Michael Jordan on the Olympic Team, there was a huge gap between his ability and the ability of the other great players on that team, but what impressed me was that he was always the first one on the floor and the last one to leave”. Michael Jordan walked the extra mile every day, he took the road least travelled, and that made all the difference in his life.

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