Why You Should Consider Working for Free

Going the extra mile

There’s an immense power in going the extra mile. What makes it so extraordinary is that the masses for the most part ignore it. People do just enough to get by–their bare minimum is their best.

Why don’t people like to go the extra mile? It’s simple: like tithing the rewards aren’t immediate. They don’t show up in next weeks check! I used to think same the same thing: “Why would I do extra work and not be paid for it?” That argument used to make so much sense to me until I realized that we all one point worked for free.

Robert Kiyosaki tells of a time when his “rich” dad spoke to him about working for free:

“…look at great athletes who earn a lot of money. I do not know of a single great athlete who got paid for practicing his or her sport. Most professional athletes started young, practiced longer and harder than the average athlete. Most professional athletes practiced for years, many paid for lessons, and they put in long hours long before they got paid. They had to do their homework, before they got their job as pros.’ He then went on to say, ‘Even the Beatles worked for free before they became world famous and rich. Like the medical doctor or professional, they paid their dues. They did their homework. They did not ask for a guaranteed recording contract, a steady paycheck, and medical benefits before they began practicing.’”

When you go the extra mile you WILL NOT be paid up front.

That is the truth.

If that was true more people would be going the extra mile!

But know this: people who go the extra mile are rewarded in due time.  And their pay is always greater than the person who does enough to get by!

Even if it hurts…go the extra mile

Kevin Liles know what it means to go the extra mile. Liles was president of Def Jam Recordings and executive vice president of The Island Def Jam Music Group from 1999 to 2004. He then served as executive vice president for Warner Music Group. He practiced the principle of the extra mile in every position he filled. He began his career as an unpaid intern at Def Jam and he reported to his supervisor Kevin Mitchell.

Mitchell was new to the area and needed what Liles had: knowledge and connections in the area. Rather than use his resources to outshine the boss, Liles used his resources to make his boss shine! He used the extra mile to help his boss:

“For two more years, I hustled hard. I wrote weekly play reports that were pure poetry…Everyday I got into the habit of entering everything into a computer so I would always know what had been done, and what needed to be followed up on. I focused all my efforts on Kevin Mitchell’s behalf. Anything he needed, I got done, even if I had to spend my own money to be effective. If we needed to fill a venue with 2,000 people I’d herd them in. If a radio program director needed to hear our latest release, I’d get it to him personally with Kevin Mitchell’s best wishes…I didn’t have to brag. I didn’t need to undermine Kevin Mitchell…To get noticed all I had to do was play my position and serve my boss to the best of my ability. If you do that you’ll shine no matter where you’re at in the food chain.”

To do you’re best you will have to put in hours outside of your 9 to 5. My advice: do it! It will pay off in ways you can’t imagine or dream.

What do you think? Is there any wisdom in working for free?


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  1. There isn’t one thing I’ve not done in my life for free at one time or another that doesn’t pay me dividends now. I’ve learned that it doesn’t hurt me to help others, it always seems to come back to me, even when that wasn’t the goal to begin with. My dad taught me that. He never said it, I just watched him do it with his actions.

    And now the next phase in my life; writing. Yep, doing it for free, even pay to have it edited and copied sometimes, but like you, I’ve learned that gratification comes in chasing the passion. The rewards come, and to be honest, I know they come with their own set of headaches… “but that’s life… what can I tell you…” (to borrow a line from Anthony Hopkins at the end of Meet Joe Black… pathetic!)

    Awesome post and summary!

  2. Excellent post. This really encouraged me to go the extra mile on some projects I am working on. The extra mile is hard as you said because you don’t necessarily reap immediate results. It may be years before things happen in your life. I have learned that you have to keep pushing forward even when it look like things will never work in your favor.

  3. In the work force I always tried to make myself a valuable employee. This brought favor with co-workers, and with God as well. Doing what is required and then a bit more is the key. Prior to getting hired on one job there was a required course (without pay) and then an internship also without pay, which I did with joy and with a smile, and when I left, they were sorry to see me go. Sometimes the extra mile is having a good attitude and remember to smile.

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