Do more than is required of you

Last and final excerpt from an old leather-bound book from 1926 called “As A Man Doeth”, that belonged to my grandfather. It’s the collected Monday morning motivational writings of William Danforth, the founder and president of Ralston Purina, of animal feed fame, I found it digging through some stacks.

Do More than Is Required of You; Do Twice as Much

Here’s another Bruce Barton story. He is a perfectly fascinating fellow, and it pays to listen to him.

“I was traveling from Chicago to New York on the Twentieth Century Limited. We were due in the Grand Central Station at nine-forty, a nice leisurely hour, and three of us who were traveling together decided to make a comfortable morning of it. We got out of our berths at a quarter after eight, shaved and dressed, and half an hour later were making our way back to the dining car.

A door to one of the drawing rooms was open, and as we walked by we could hardly keep from looking in. The bed in the room had been made up long since; a table stood between the windows, and at the table, buried in work, was a man whose face the newspapers have made familiar to everyone. He had been Governor of New York, a justice of the Supreme Court, a candidate for the Presidency of the United States, and was at the time, practicing law and reputed to be earning more than a hundred thousand dollars a year.

My companions and I were young men; he was well along in middle life. We were poor and unknown; he was rich and famous. We were doing all that was required of us. We were up and dressed, and would be ready for business when the train pulled in at a little before ten. But this man, of whom nothing was actually required, was doing far more. I thought to myself as we passed on to our leisurely breakfast, ‘That explains him; now I understand Hughes’.”

This is a Monday morning thought which ought to carry through the whole week.

This is great advice for someone, especially early in their career. Develop a reputation for going above and beyond and you will be on everyone’s list to recruit or promote.

This is also one of my favorite interview questions. I am a big fan of “Behavioral Interviewing” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Job_interview#Behavioral_questions) – if it’s not in your arsenal already as an interviewer, it should be. Rather than ask people to theorize about how they’d respond to a hypothetical circumstance in the future, you ask them to relate how they tackled things in the past. It is amazing what kinds of information you get when you insist on a specific answer with real past behaviors (both fantastic answers that sell you on a candidate and awful answers that effectively end the interview).

“Tell me about the last time you went above and beyond what was required. Why motivated you to to do it? What did you learn?”

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