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HABITS OF GOING THE EXTRA MILE
Napoleon Hill spent most of his life studying the most successful entrepreneurs in American history. He analysed men like Ford, Edison and Carnegie at length. He concluded that success followed predictable and distinct patterns of behaviour. He suggested that all men and women have similar options open to them. He argued that great success and achievement were available to any and all who would choose to follow certain requirements which he spelled out in his many books.
Mr Hill was the architect of the philosophy of success. He was a pioneer and an original thinker. Many books and articles have copied his ideas, but he remains the master. Of all the great human accomplishments in the 20th century, the judgement of history will inevitably rank the commentaries of Napoleon Hill among them.
I hope you will gain some small benefit from this section.
However, as you read through the article, it will become obvious it was well before the time of equality of the sexes. Just bear with this anachronism.
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In America, anyone may earn a living without the habit of going the extra mile. And many do just that, but the economic security and luxuries available under the great American way of life are available only to the individual who makes this principle a part of his philosophy of life and lives by it as a matter of daily habit.
Every known rule of logic and common sense forces one to accept this as true. And even a cursory analysis of men in the higher brackets of success will prove that it is true.
It is a well known fact that Andrew Carnegie developed more successful leaders of industry than has any other great American industrialist. Most of them came up from the ranks of ordinary day labourers and many of them accumulated personal fortunes of vast amounts, more than they could acquire without the guidance of Mr Carnegie.
The first test that Mr Carnegie applied to any worker whom he desired to promote was that of determining to what extent the worker was willing to go the extra mile.
It was this test that led to the discovery of Charles M Schwab. When Mr Schwab first came to Mr Carnegie’s attention he was working as a day labourer in one of the steel master’s plants. Close observation revealed that Mr Schwab always performed more and better service than that for which he was paid. Moreover, he performed it in a pleasing mental attitude which made him popular among his fellow workers.
He was promoted from one job to another until at long last he was made president of the great United States Steel Corporation at a salary of $75,000 a year! (1901)
Not through all the ingenuity of man, or all the schemes that men resort to in order to get something for nothing, could Charles M Schwab, the day labourer, have earned as much as $75, 000 during his entire lifetime if he had not willingly adopted and followed the habit of going the extra mile.
On some occasions Mr Carnegie not only paid Mr Schwab’s salary, which was generous enough, but he gave him as much as $1,000,000 as a bonus in addition to his regular salary.
When Mr Carnegie was asked why he gave Mr Schwab a bonus so much greater than his salary, he replied in words that every worker, regardless of his job or wages, might well ponder. “I gave him his salary for the work he actually performed”, said Mr Carnegie, “and the bonus for his willingness to go the extra mile, thus setting a fine example of his fellow workers”.
Think of that! A salary of $75, 000 a year, paid to a man who started as a day labourer, and a bonus of more than ten times that amount for a good disposition expressed by a willingness to do more than he was paid for.
Verily it pays to go the extra mile, for every time an individual does so he places someone else under obligation to him.
No one is compelled to follow the habit of going the extra mile and seldom is anyone ever requested to render more service than that for which he is paid. Therefore, if the habit is followed it must be adopted on one’s own initiative.
But the Constitution of the United State guarantees every man this privilege, and the American system provides rewards and bonuses for those who follow this habit, and makes it impossible for a man to adopt the habit without receiving appropriate compensation.
The compensation may come in many different forms. Increased pay is a certainty. Voluntary promotions are inevitable. Favourable working conditions and pleasant human relationships are sure. And these lead to economic security which a man may attain on his own merits.
There is still another benefit to be gained by the man who follows the habit of going the extra mile: It keeps him on good terms with his own conscience and serves as a stimulant to his own soul! Therefore, it is a builder of sound character which has no equal in any other human habit.
You who have young boys and girls growing into adulthood might well remember this for their sake! Teach a child the benefits of rendering more service and better service than that which is customary, and you will have made contributions of character to that child which will serve him or her all through life.
The philosophy of Andrew Carnegie is essentially a philosophy of economics. But it is more than that! It is also a philosophy of ethics and sympathy for the weak and the unfortunate. It teaches one how to become his brother’s keeper and at the same time rewards him for doing so.