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Running An Extra Mile

G. Balasubramanian,

Former Director of Academics CBSE

G. Balasubramanian is a doyen of school education in India. He has held several positions of leadership at CBSE, including Director Academics. He was the brain behind the introduction of several innovations at CBSE, which included frontline curriculum, communicative approach to language teaching, Information Technology, alternatives to homework, etc. He is also an author, poet and a sought-after speaker at educational conferences world over. This article has been taken from G. Balasubramanian’s official website


The new year dawned with a conversation with one of my friends about running an extra mile. For decades, I have always loved running an extra mile. It has almost become a part of my thought culture and thought architecture. I am sure there are several others like me who have this habit for one reason or the other. There is something more than ‘achievement syndrome’ associated with it.

Closely examined, the following could be the reasons that could prompt someone to run that extra mile:

  • There is an opportunity to run that extra mile.

  • We are capable of running that extra mile.

  • We have the energy and will to demonstrate that.

  • It is adventurous and enterprising.

  • It adds to our learning experience.

  • It adds to one’s confidence profile.

  • It helps in wealth generation.

  • It helps to set new benchmarks to our baseline of performance.

  • It sets new goals for a competitive community.

  • It expands our horizon of happiness.

The challenges in performing and accomplishing this task are few. The most critical aspect of this adventure is ‘Do we have the will and aptitude to do that?’

“Sir, why do you struggle, when it is not a part of your assignment?” asked one of my colleagues. Oftentimes, we believe that the assignments and tasks we have, hold limits. Or sometimes some tell us that crossing the assigned limits would demand more performance from us by the employers. They think that underperforming is one way of showing how much we struggle to complete the task.

“Hey, why do you burn your energy? You are not going to be paid a penny more for what you do” is another piece of advice from an Oracle standing nearby. People who equate their performance, talents, achievements and skills to the compensations they receive often tend to defeat their own selves. They build barriers to the flow of their neural network to culture them to lower performance levels. They don’t think that ‘if not us, someone else will be doing it.’

“Ouch! Don’t show it off. Your running extra mile will sap your energy. And there is no one waiting with a garland to celebrate you at the finish point.” That was one senior colleague who advised me based on his extensive experience. There are always a few in every organisation who enjoy restraining others growth through demotivation because they have not been able to grow. They forget that it is their mediocrity which has blocked their growth and hence they do not enjoy others' exhibition of an intellectual profile.

“He is young blood. He will certainly jump for some time. Time will teach him how to moderate and he will fall in line.” Some of my colleagues gave this comment when I went beyond some specific framework of tasks. I recall how an IIT graduate joined a multinational automobile industry, he came up with a straightforward way to solve a problem on which they were spending a lot for years. “Gentleman, you have a work schedule and tagline. Just follow that, there are others who are meant to solve such problems” Running an extra mile to solve problems is often considered as an intervention to the linear work profiles given in shop floors.

“New Benchmark? For what?” asked a senior marketing manager. “The product has a good market, and we are reaping the harvest. Why change and create problems for us?’ Many organisations suffering from survival mindsets don’t enjoy running an extra mile as it might impact their routine and challenge their existing comfort zones. They forget that enterprise is all about running an extra mile to see newer opportunities for the future.

Readiness for the future demands running an extra mile. “If you don’t take control of the future, the future will take control of you,” says Patrick Dixon in his book ‘The Future of Almost Everything’. Said the Boss to the member of his team, “all these quotes are good to read. Your suggestions to run an extra mile are okay. But where is the money and investment? I can’t run a step further without cash.” There are people who find some excuse for their inability to either create a vision or a mission. They think that running an extra mile always involves risk and investment. Not necessarily. They always enjoy finding one reason for their underperformance. Says Bernard Shaw, “People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don't believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are those who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can't find them, make them.”

Running an extra mile is not only fun, an adventure, a learning experience, but it is a gift given to us by the universe to highlight our ability to expand the quality and quantum of energy and life spirit bestowed on us.


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