The miracles on the extra mile: A positive attitude matters a great deal.

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The noted Austrian philanthropist and founder of SOS Children’s Villages, Hermann Gmeiner (1919 – 1986), believed that, “Every big thing in the world only comes true, when somebody does more than he has to do.” That insight was captured previously in Matthew 5.41: “And whosoever shall compel you to go a mile, go with him two.” And what a difference such a positive attitude makes at both the personal and national levels, for greater successes and inner fulfilment!

A leadership tip

Those who sit to be told what to do – or who wait to be pushed to do better – or who drag their feet even when on a payroll – happen to be the very souls who cheapen their own potential and miss being better and greater than they could possibly be. In my column with the sub-heading “Small leadership tip for making a big difference” [March 25, 2013] I noted: “Anyone who has a task to perform is a leader if, in that performance, they are mindful of quality and the collective good. In that regard, personal development and leadership are synonymous.”


Innovative companies hire people for their enthusiastic attitudes first; the training for skills come later. An enthusiastic attitude simply means sharing the good that one has inside of themselves, and adding quality to the lives of other people. Enthusiasm is an inner spirit that speaks through our actions, that speaks through our commitment to the quality that we bring to bear in the things that we do. Enthusiasm brightens one’s personality, and then adds value to life itself. Enthusiasm takes an inside effort to make an outside difference.

That raises two questions that will make or break anyone: One, How well do you perform your work? And, Two, Do you think of your work as a tedious labor or a meaningful activity?

The following anonymous story making the rounds in cyberspace is worth retelling, showcasing what a difference a positive attitude can make to change anybody’s life for the better. It goes like this:

Ducks quack and complain; eagles soar

 “I was waiting in line for a ride at the airport, when a cab pulled up; the first thing I noticed was that the taxi was polished to a bright shine and the driver, smartly dressed in a white shirt, black tie and freshly pressed black slacks, jumped out and rounded the car to open the back passenger door for me.

He handed me a laminated card and said: Wasiu’s Mission Statement: To get my customers to their destinations in the quickest, safest and cheapest way possible in a friendly environment.

This blew me away. Especially when I noticed that the inside of the cab matched the outside. Spotlessly clean!

As he slid behind the wheel, Wasiu said: ‘Would you like a cup of coffee? I have a thermos of regular and one of decaf.’

I said jokingly, ‘No, I’d prefer a soft drink.’

Wasiu smiled and said, ‘No problem I have a cooler up front with regular and Diet Coke, lassi, water and orange juice.’

Almost stuttering, I said, ‘I’ll take a Lassi.’

Handling me my drink, Wasiu said; if you’d like something to read, I have Thisday, Guardian & Sun newspapers.’

As we were pulling away, Wasiu handed me another laminated card, ‘These are the stations I get and the music they play, if you’d like to listen to the radio.’

And as if those weren’t enough, Wasiu told me that he had the air conditioning on and asked if the temperature was comfortable for me.

Then he advised me of the best route to my destination for that time of day. He also let me know that he’d be happy to chat and tell me about some of the sights or if I preferred, to leave me with my own thoughts.

‘Tell me, Wasiu,’ I was amazed and asked him, ‘have you always served customers like this?’

Wasiu smiled into the rear view mirror. ‘No, not always. In fact, it’s only been in the last two years. My first five years driving, I spent most of my time complaining like all the rest of the cabbies do. Then I heard about the power of choice one day.’

The choice to make a difference

‘Power of choice is that you can be a duck or an eagle.’

‘If you get up in the morning expecting to have a bad day, you’ll rarely disappoint yourself.’

‘Don’t be a duck. Be an eagle. Ducks quack and complain. Eagles soar above the crowd.’

‘That hit me right,’ said Wasiu.

‘It about me. I was always quacking and complaining, so I decided to change my attitude and become an eagle. I looked around at the other cabs and their drivers. The cabs were dirty, the drivers were unfriendly, and the customers were unhappy. So I decided to make some changes. I put in a few at a time. When my customers responded well, I did more.’

‘I take it that has paid off for you,’ I said.

‘It sure has,’ Wasiu replied. ‘My first year as an eagle, I doubled my income from the previous year. This year I’ll probably quadruple it. My customers call me for appointments on my cell phone or leave a message on it.’

Wasiu made a different choice. He decided to stop quacking like ducks and start soaring like eagles.

‘You don’t die if you fall in water, you die only if you don’t swim. Make a positive decision today …’”


A bald eagle. Image credit: AWWE83


  1. Complaints have never better our situations. Only a positive change in our attitude can really make a difference. Thank you Sir for your hard and inspiring works.


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