Going the Extra Mile

Sometimes we look for instant gratification however everything that we go the extra mile for isn’t necessarily going to pay off right away. There have been times when I have done so much without any noticeable benefit in return, but in hindsight I have been able to see the true worth of those efforts later in my life.
It’s hard to keep up with everything sometimes and do all that you can to be the best you can be. Often times there can be moments where you have to do so much in one day or keep going when your so tired or accomplish something that seems very daunting to start. Those are the times however that really make you grow and really prove to you what your capable of and those are also the moments that can be major contributing factors to your biggest successes .

A good example of this would be growing your hair out or getting it from an unhealthy state back to a healthy state. Sometimes working with your real hair can be a daunting journey and also can seem very expensive. The first few visits to the salon aren’t that gratifying. However over time you will see the shape in your cut change from growth and you will see the resilience in your hair’s health start to flourish.
Thats a pretty easy concept to understand however it can be deeper concepts too that may need a broader view to realize. For example I remember a time in my youth when all I had to do was turn in my papers on time for school and be at every class on my schedule. I remember thinking how hard it was to keep up with so much and how hard it was to juggle going to school and going to after school activities like track or my part time job at McDonald’s ( yes, I worked at McDonald’s when I was 14-15 years old). At the same time I remember having a strength in me that would not allow me to fail. There was something inside me that made me want to finish what was asked of me and to prove that I could accomplish what was needed for me to accomplish. Over the years I have had so many of those moments that when I look back I know it all has trained me for the real moments of accomplishment and the grit required to get through them. Even when you are so tired you still have to keep going but there are always rewards however small or big that are there for you to benefit from.
We are always looking for the instant gratification and reciprocity of our efforts. We want to know that the work we do now will pay us back now. Thats not always the case and the work that we do now may not have rewards until years later. One example I can think of is when I was in college at Kent State University. I had a media class and my professor who was black told me that I wasn’t doing very well in the class. He told me that for me to have a higher grade in his class I needed to do extra credit. He didn’t have many opportunities for students to have extra credit and so in this case I wanted to make sure I did it. Our extra credit was to attend a lecture the next evening at Kent State that Dr. Cornel West was giving. This was hard for me because at the time I was commuting to school about and hour from where I lived and I also was working in the salon with a nice clientele at the time. I did not want to travel at night back to the campus after coming from the campus earlier in the day to attend the lecture, write a paper on the lecture, and turn in the report a day later, which was when the extra credit was due. I pushed myself to go and when I did I had the most inspiring experience attending the lecture. I was mesmerized by Dr. West and how confident he was on the stage. He had such presence and power as he talked about the issues facing African Americans today. People had driven from all over to see him speak and I had stood in line for an hour just to shake his hand. Obviously I was very moved by his speech. Afterwards I wrote my paper which went on to describe the presence Dr. West had on stage, how he commanded the audience’s attention and the way he moved and inspired the crowd with his words. I neglected however to describe in detail all of what he talked about while he was on stage. My professor noticed this after reading the report and did not accept my extra credit. I was very upset and disappointed that he didn’t and after class I went up to him to ask why. He went on to explain that it lacked substance and true explanation of what was discussed at the lecture. I rebutted saying how I had put a lot of effort into that extra credit and couldn’t see why he would not be able to accept it. I went on further to say “ You may not notice, but I am actually very smart”! He turned to me and smiled saying “ yes, Mr. Gilmore I do know that you are very smart and that’s why I expect more from you”.

I was about 22 years old at the time and furious that he didn’t accept my extra credit however in hind sight I realized that he had actually given me a gift. I was moved by Dr. Cornel West and he inspired me in ways that have influence how I teach and speak today. That intellectual posture and approach to articulating his thoughts was very influential to me. If I didn’t go the extra mile I would not have gotten that experience which has definitely impacted me as an African American. In fact it wasn’t until years later that I understood the true meaning of my Professor’s words when he said “ I expected more from you”. I probably will never forget that. It impacted me in a way that reminds me that I should always do better . I passed his class with a C but I always tried even harder to do better after that. Little did I know that I would be writing on a weekly bases to 100’s of subscribers or traveling to different cities to speak to different people across the country but now I do and those experiences have helped me to be great at the things I do now.

I understand that even tho I may not see the rewards for my effort right away everything comes full circle and I can understand the benefits that I gain from making the extra effort and going the extra mile even if its years from now. I always wanted to work in a high end salon, but I never got excepted into the “expensive” salon homes that I wanted. I had to resort into working in a booth rental type salon which most commonly was a textured salon. This was actually for my benefit because it was where I had the opportunity to learn how to master texture and it takes many years to do that. It wasn’t until years afterwards that I was able to provide a more technical education for myself, which would be considered the more high end side of hair . But it was for a reason. The reason was so that I could know how to properly apply those techniques when working with textured hair. If it had been the other way around I may have never even learned how to master texture in the first place. This was definitely going the extra mile and it surely did not benefit me until way later in my career.

Some things you may not understand at first but you grit it out and give all you can anyways. I understand that when you make the effort to give your best you will always find those benefits come back to you in very beneficial ways. Don’t underestimate giving your best even if what you’re doing now seems small at this time .


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