The extra mile

Credits: Mylene.Savard @Flickr

I always struggle with people that think that great and very unnatural things can be achieved by following old and tested rules, like if everybody could do that simply repeating a playbook. In Europe, we tend to think this way more than in other areas of the world, and ultimately I think the US are the ones that master this better than anybody else. While I write this I am thinking about business and entrepreneurship, but this is true in a lot of other human contexts.

If you work with someone who started a business, of any size, you will notice how that person goes constantly to the extra mile to make things happen. It’s the only way to survive in business and ultimately the only way to solve tough problems. In any field and of any nature. Going to the extra mile isn’t simply working more hours than others, it means cutting corners, doing things you wouldn’t do if that was not your last option and ultimately, build a level of confidence in taking risks that is quite rare for the majority of us.

For 10 doctors that will tell you there is nothing to do for a patient, there will be at least 1 that will try his best and do the impossible. Why does he behave in a different way? I don’t know, but his journey, his character and the fact that he had to do unconventional things before, allow him to have more confidence to go off the beaten path. He might not succeed, but if there is a chance to succeed, he will find it.

I spend a lot of time thinking about this and a recurring thought I have is the following: what’s the clearest indication that someone is doing something in a new and potentially disruptive way? The critics he/she gets from other people. If you look at that, you will always find this element. Most of the times this is simply because everyone has always done that thing in a way and we don’t consider anything else….but a lot of times is something more. Our society tends to fear who breaks social rules (e.g. ignoring someone, something for which usually our society has a lot of respect) or fight someone/something in a bad and aggressive way. We somehow fail to recognize that changing things, most of the times, requires doing very unnatural things and fighting existing rules, even if they have been used for thousands of years.

I will keep thinking about this and maybe start reading a few books about it.

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