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Managing to Make a Difference by Larry Sternberg

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Chapter 25Harness Discretionary Effort

Discretionary effort is not a new idea. The value of “going the extra mile” goes back to the Roman Empire and the Sermon on the Mount. In that time and place, Roman soldiers could order anyone living under Roman martial law to carry their gear for a mile (and not a step farther). In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus urged his followers, “If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles” (Matthew 5:41, NLT), and the idea of going the extra mile was born. The fact that it has been around so long should tell us something. Discretionary effort is the level of effort one is capable of giving to a task, assignment, or mission above and beyond the minimum required, and it can have an impressive impact on outcomes. Here is an example.

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