By John Monroe

Being an avid runner, I push to get better every time I go out and run. I recognize the need to be health conscious, so I try to eat the right foods and do some type of exercise on a regular basis. However, with the fast pace of work and family demands, it’s often a challenge to find the time. It’s also far too easy to succumb to the temptation of doing just enough to get by, eating that second helping of food, or running just one mile instead of pushing to run the second mile.

Research has found that the disparity between only going the first mile instead of pushing for the second has a profound effect on the mind and body. We limit our psyche to being happy with one mile instead of allowing it to experience the exhilaration of pushing our limits and going for more.

We can look at business as having two miles as well: the essential and the voluntary. The essential mile is made of things we must do whether we want to or not. The voluntary mile is made of things we can do—but only if we choose to do them.

The second mile in business

What does “running the second mile in business” look like?

  • When the primary focus of the business is on making profits for the stakeholders, the business has walked the first mile. But when the customers’ experience is the focal point, the business has run the second mile.
  • When an owner’s or manager’s concern is primarily about the production output of employees, they have gone the first mile. When their focus is on employee retention and employee engagement, the company has run the second mile.
  • When employees are simply working to collect a paycheck, they have walked the first mile. The second mile is reached when they become engaged in enhancing job processes to improve the quality of the product or service being offered.

How does a business prepare to run the second mile? It starts at the top with the owner establishing a company culture that defines the pace of the second mile. Culture characterizes the personality of the company, so the first step is for the owner to exemplify company culture from the moment the business opens its doors. The next step is to hire employees who subscribe to the culture. Employees will be more productive when their needs and values are consistent with those in their workplace.

The company’s second mile is mapped out by the mission, vision, and core values that are the underpinning of the company culture:

  • A mission statement describes why the business exists. The mission should convey to customers, employees, suppliers, and the community the purpose of the business’ goals and the philosophies underlying them.
  • The vision statement answers where the company aspires to be upon achieving its mission. It describes the legacy it wants to leave in the community because of the services or products it offers.
  • Core values are the guiding principles the business uses to manage internal and external relationships. They must be practiced with purpose in every decision made by the employees. Core values should also support the actions and choices the business makes. They must be timeless from the day the business opens its doors.

Employees engaged in the run

Great companies are built in the second mile by hiring great people who live the culture every minute of every day. Culture cannot be coerced; it can only be lived through the employees’ hearts and minds. You will not find culture anywhere but in the second mile. This sounds simple, yet every company struggles with running a PB (personal best) in the second mile.

Here are some initiatives to try if you want to join the second mile movement.

  1. Provide employees with opportunities to grow professionally.
  2. Enforce your company’s core values so employees are working with people they respect.
  3. Build trust from the top down, always doing what’s best for the employees and with the success of the company in mind.
  4. Allow employees to make mistakes and learn from them; encourage them to stretch their skills and capabilities.
  5. Celebrate and reward success.

By putting in the extra effort to run the second mile with passion every day, your business will be transformed into something more than just a place to work.


John Monroe is a business development advisor for Violand Management Associates (VMA), a highly-respected consulting company in the restoration and cleaning industries. Monroe is a leading expert in marketing, sales, and sales management for the restoration and cleaning industries with over 30 years of experience in those fields. Through Violand, Monroe works with companies to develop their people and profits. To reach him, visit violand.com or call 800-360-3513.