Have you ever experienced intolerable pressure at work? Can you recall how you felt or the plethora of the thoughts you had? How have you responded and dealt with that difficulty? What did you learn from that experience?
“Walk the extra mile” is considered mostly as a managerial expression that means go beyond one’s ability or make a great effort to achieve. If we look back in time, it is an expression rooted in the Romanian empire era.
Roman Empire, centered in Rome, consisted of contiguous territories and was the largest in history to expand and preserve its territory. Soldiers’ duty was to keep the Pax Romana, and emperors afforded them rights and power to maintain the control of the empire. Roman soldiers had to carry heavy and weary equipment called sarcina*. As an occasional relief, it is believed that they had the right to compel strangers to carry their luggage for a mile. In ancient Rome, soldiers were powerful and poor people had no option but to obey orders, while harsh punishments were delivered to those who defied soldiers’ commands.
During the hours of Roman law of impressment, according to Matthew 5:41, Jesus stated a groundbreaking advice, “If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles”. While people suffer under such abuse of authority and unfair treatments, an alternative point of view was provided instead of hate and violence. What Jesus meant was that when we are forced into circumstances that are beyond our control, our inner power is unlimited, and it depends to us in what way this power will be unleashed.
Anticipating the above circumstances to our modern societies and especially in business and companies’ culture, the above is a bright example of how we can control our emotions and face challenges. The scope of this article is not to state that Romans were the evils, the purpose is to seize perspectives and adjust the way of thinking. What should be highlighted is that it does not matter if others treat you unfairly, the most important is how you behave. Our behavior is a state of mind and depends on the quality and variety of our thoughts.
Imagine a situation when your supervisor is overloading you with work and deadlines that you cannot handle. The intolerable pressure of work along with tight deadlines increases your stress levels and makes your blood boil. Emotions rise abruptly and thoughts run wildly. How would you respond? If you had the ability to pause and note down your emotions and thoughts, you would be impressed by how crazy and extreme they are. There are many ways to approach and deal with harsh situations. There are no right or wrong decisions when it comes to psychological factors. Obeying or confronting a situation has to do with boundaries someone has set to himself, resilience someone had built, and willingness.
From a cynical point of view, the phrase sounds that someone must obey and wither to a demonstration of power. Though, diving deeper “go the extra mile” means don’t get discouraged and keep going not for others’ sake but in favor of yourself. The first mile entails the obligatory part, but the second mile is the opportunity you give to yourself. In my point of view, walk the extra mile is to find your inner strength and do more than required. Unleash your power and put in the extra effort. I would rather say that we become better and succeed not only by doing simple acts but when we step contrary to the expectation.
Do not be overcome by difficulties, drop out the negative thoughts and overcome challenges with courage. Try to confront unfair treatments at work, tough customers, criticism, demanding deadlines, and whatever stresses you by changing your perspective. Do not pursue and chase good experiences, chase the greatness. If someone forces you to carry their gear for one mile, prove yourself that you could go for more, take the advantage of this opportunity to become stronger and wiser.
* heavy legionary’s equipment that could weigh up to 100 pounds.
Littman-Ovadia, H., & Lavy, S. (2016). Going the extra mile: Perseverance as a key character strength at work. Journal of Career Assessment, 24(2), 240-252.
MacLeod, D., & Brady, C. (2008). The extra mile: How to engage your people to win. Pearson Education.