Lesson #1: Go Above and Beyond

“If all you do is work faithfully and conscientiously, the verdict in such cases generally is that you perform your present duties so well that you had better continue to perform them,” said Carnegie.

Carnegie said that the secret of his early success was not in asking what “What must I do for my employer?” but, “What can I do?” Never content to simply do what was expected of him and leave it at that, Carnegie thrived on exceeding both his own and others’ expectations. It was in taking his actions to the next level that Carnegie gained not only the reputation but also the success that he did.

Carnegie believed in going above and beyond his own responsibilities and finding ways to improve the business whether or not it was his duty to do so. Carnegie always subscribed in the belief that the company should be put first. “Do not think a man has done his full duty when he has performed the work assigned him,” he said. “A man will never rise if he does only this. Promotion comes from exception work. A man must discover where his employer's interests can be served beyond the range of the special work allotted to him; and whenever he sees his employer's interests suffer, or wherever the latter's interests can be promoted, tell him so.”

Carnegie applied the same logic whether he was working for someone else or if he was his own boss. Success, he believed, would never come if he simply settled for good; he wanted to do the best and be the best that he could. “There is no service so low and simple, neither any so high, in which the young man of ability and willing disposition cannot readily and almost daily prove himself capable of greater trust and usefulness, and, what is equally important, show his invincible determination to rise,” said Carnegie. “Do your duty and a little more and the future will take care of itself.”

Well aware of the risks of going above the call of duty, Carnegie paid no matter. “You may be right or you may be wrong, but in either case you have gained the first condition of success,” said Carnegie. “You have attracted attention. Your initiative might sometimes put you into conflict with your superiors, but that is a risk worth taking.”

“Boss your boss just as soon as you can,” said Carnegie. “There is nothing he will like so well, if he is the right kind of boss. If he is not, he is not the man for you to remain with. Leave him whenever you can, even at a present sacrifice, and find one capable of discerning genius.”

Carnegie believed that it was the first man who gets the oyster, while the second man settles for the shell. While both would achieved something of worth, it is the first man, the one who is willing to take risks, push the boundaries and challenge authority, who receives the bigger reward.

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