Go The Extra Inch

“Raise your hand as high as you can,” challenged bestselling author Seth Godin from the stage.

Over a thousand hands shot into the air, fingers stretched to the ceiling. Then Godin prodded, “Now raise your hands one more inch.” With giggles, outstretched arms extended higher in perfect unison.  The extra inch was achieved with no injuries reported.

We’ve been challenged since an early age to “go the extra mile.” This cliché’s overuse has rendered the advice useless, blending into the background like the crooked painting over your living room couch. Not to mention, an extra mile can feel like an overwhelming amount of work in an already busy whirlwind.

I prefer the concept of The Extra Inch. Infinitely more accessible. Deeply practical. Dead simple.

Instead of going the extra mile once or twice a year, reframe your approach to go the extra inch with rhythmic consistency.  To me, the extra inch is that little bit of extra effort applied to every deliverable you produce.  It’s the surprising language choice in an email to a client.  The extra garnish on the plate before serving a meal in your restaurant.  An extra provocative question during an impromptu meeting with a colleague. That little something special you add to your big sales presentation.

You get to create the extra inches that are right for you.  If you’re a student, the extra inch may be 10 additional minutes of study per day.  If you’re a software engineer, it could be one extra round of testing before launch.   Those working on projects can add one extra idea or concept that wasn’t part of the specifications, but takes the task to new heights.  Scientists can add one extra experiment, while athletes can add one extra set in the gym.

The concept applies to every aspect or your personal and professional life.  Add an extra inch when interacting with your significant other, just like you did years ago when dating.  Give an extra inch to your kids by being fully present and engaged.  Contribute an extra inch to your community or favorite charity.  That extra little zip – applied with consistency – will deliver a powerful impact for you and all those around you.

In fact, that extra inch is the stuff of greatness.  It’s what gets you noticed and promoted at work.  It allows you to secure the deal, score the investor, or drive the bottom line.  In a world of mediocrity where most people deliver the bare minimum, you can shine brightly by regularly adding just one extra touch of creativity, care, color, or compassion.

If someone demands the extra mile, tell ‘em you gave at the office.  But you have a nearly limitless supply of inches.  Give generously.