Shawn Anderson: “Go the extra mile for…another person”

Go the extra mile for…another person. Go the extra mile for…your health. Go the extra mile for…a goal. Go the extra mile in…seeking the positive. Go the extra mile in…taking action. It sometimes feels like it is so hard to avoid feeling down or depressed these days. Between the sad news coming from world headlines, the impact […]

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Go the extra mile for…another person.

Go the extra mile for…your health.

Go the extra mile for…a goal.

Go the extra mile in…seeking the positive.

Go the extra mile in…taking action.


It sometimes feels like it is so hard to avoid feeling down or depressed these days. Between the sad news coming from world headlines, the impact of the ongoing raging pandemic, and the constant negative messages popping up on social and traditional media, it sometimes feels like the entire world is pulling you down. What do you do to feel happiness and joy during these troubled and turbulent times? In this interview series called “Finding Happiness and Joy During Turbulent Times” we are talking to experts, authors, and mental health professionals who share lessons from their research or experience about “How To Find Happiness and Joy During Troubled & Turbulent Times”.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Shawn Anderson.

A lifetime entrepreneur with a track record of raising performance and passion in others, Shawn Anderson is a 7-time author and the creator of “Extra Mile Day”…a day declared by 512 cities on 11/1/2020. (Extra Mile Day recognizes individuals and organization who are “going the extra mile” in volunteerism and service in making a difference in their local communities.) Shawn walks the talk. He’s built a million dollar company, pedaled a bike 4,000 miles across the U.S. (twice) and created adventures in 50+ countries including having walked across eight countries since 2014.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

As a kid, I loved baseball cards…but to buy them, I needed to create dollar bills. Thus, my entrepreneurial career began. My first big gig was selling worms to fishermen. I’d drench my parents’ backyard so the worms would rise to the top of the grass, I’d pick them up one-by-one, put them in cartons…and then sell the worms to fishermen on weekends.

That was the beginning of learning the life-changing lesson that when my heart wore a dream…my legs had the power to turn it into a reality.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

My greatest career (and life) inspiration has come from people I never met. They are the authors of the books that ignited my passion and refined my purpose. Og Mandino, Zig Ziglar, W. Clement Stone, Benjamin Franklin…their words planted the seeds for my belief that “my life is mine to create.”

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

Two forces have the power to dramatically change our lives: 1) the people we meet, and 2) the books that we read. For me, books have been my…”WOW!” One example? In The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Ben taught me the power in creating a self-accountability system. His model helped me create my own version…and in doing so, I created an accountability tool that has powered me to write seven books, walk across eight countries, build businesses, create “Extra Mile Day”…and realize that when day-to-day accountability is applied…no goal or change is TOO big to create.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

Early in my speaking career, I booked as many gigs as I could to get myself out there, practice and grow in confidence. When I speak, I pour all of my energy into the performance…and so naturally, I sweat.

One day early in my career, I had back-to-back gigs scheduled. In hustling to drive to the second, I had only a short window to change my shirt and get ready. During that second event of the day, a young guy in the front row kept covering his mouth during my entire talk, trying to hold a laugh inside. As my words were coming out on stage, my brain was wondering simultaneously, “What is he laughing about?”

Later, I realized that in my rush to do a quick change without a mirror for the second gig, I inadvertently buttoned my shirt one button off. THAT was the cause of his not-so-hidden laughter. Embarrassing? Of course. Lesson learned? Double check the details.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

On 11/1/21…over 500 mayors from all 50 states will declare “Extra Mile Day”…a day to recognize the inspiring volunteers and organizations “going the extra mile” to make a difference in their local communities. The day shines a light on the positive difference makers…and hopefully…it encourages more of us to BE positive difference makers.

You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

1. Great Vision. I know what I want, what I want to do, and where I want to go. When you have a vision for your life, you’ve given yourself awesome purpose.

2. Great Heart. I don’t know “quit.” I’ve felt rejection 10,000+ times, but there’s always been something within me that has nudged me to not accept the failure…to get up off the ground…and run again.

3. Great Action. I never let big dreams overwhelm me. I’ve learned to break the biggest goals into the smallest steps…and every day take action on walking one more of those small steps.

For the benefit of our readers, can you briefly let us know why you are an authority about the topic of finding joy?

What I am an authority on is knowing that finding joy comes from within one’s self. One’s primary joy cannot be created by someone else. And if we want consistent joy, we must never stop seeking it. I’ve spent a lifetime creating and tweaking a time-tested accountability system that inches me toward finding my purest joy…each day.

Ok, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about finding joy. Even before the pandemic hit, the United States was ranked at #19 in the World Happiness Report. Can you share a few reasons why you think the ranking is so low, despite all of the privileges and opportunities that we have in the US?

Although it’s contradictory to what tens of millions of people in the U.S. think and are taught to believe, buying things does not help us find our happy…our happier…our happiest.

Because so many people are laser focused on “I gotta’ have that!” material obsession, we send ourselves into a joyless funk. The purest joy is not found on Amazon or in a shopping aisle…but rather in learning how to appreciate the simple: breathing deeply, falling in love with meaningful conversation, taking a walk in nature or watching two dogs playing. Life experiences have etched in me the truth that joy…in its purest form…is free.

What are the main myths or misconceptions you’d like to dispel about finding joy and happiness? Can you please share some stories or examples?

To find joy and happiness, we get stuck in a pattern of looking through windows…and not at mirrors. We look to our employer, partner, spouse, friend, neighbor, the government…and ask, “What are you doing to make my life better?” Instead, we should be asking that question to the person in the mirror.

One simple quote from Famous Amos is melted into my being forever: “Happiness is an Inside job.”

In a related, but slightly different question, what are the main mistakes you have seen people make when they try to find happiness? Can you please share some stories or examples?

We live with this passionate urge to keep upgrading: the car, clothes, phone, home…the way we look. In trying to keep up with the most recent “This will make you EXTRA happy!” commercials, we instead find ourselves buried in joyless debt, regret and low self-esteem. I have never met a car that makes me happier than watching my dogs playfully chase each other.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our discussion. Can you please share with our readers your “5 things you need to live with more Joie De Vivre, more joy and happiness in life, particularly during turbulent times?” (Please share a story or an example for each.)

Add these FIVE Extra Mile “TO DOs” into your life every day…and positive change will be created:

TODAY…

1. Go the extra mile for…another person.

What did you do to encourage, serve or support someone else?

2. Go the extra mile for…your health.

What did you do to improve the quality of your health?

3. Go the extra mile for…a goal.

What did you do that moved you an inch closer to achieving your goal?

4. Go the extra mile in…seeking the positive.

What did you read, listen to or see that inspired your most positive YOU?

5. Go the extra mile in…taking action.

What did you follow through with doing…and not just think about doing?

What can concerned friends, colleagues, and life partners do to effectively help support someone they care about who is feeling down or depressed?

“I see you” is a pretty magical gift that we each have the power to give ten times a day. In a world that so often feels lonely…it’s the unexpected call, email or kind word that carries the power to change a person’s thought, day and life.

Knowing someone cares and is on our “Team” is a difference maker. Be THAT difference maker.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

For me, it’s all about my “Go the Extra Mile” message. “Extra Mile Day” was declared by 512 cities on 11/1/20…and since 2009, 1,000+ extra-mile volunteers and organizations have been given recognition for going the extra mile in service and volunteerism to their local communities.

“Go the extra mile” is a message that — when lived — has the power to change everything about our lives. Through Extra Mile America, the Extra Mile Pledge, Extra Mile World and Extra Mile Thursday…I am doing my best to pass forward a lot of “go the extra mile” into the world.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

We’re lucky to live in a world with so many extraordinary difference makers…but TWO consistently inspire my spirit. First, I’d love to have lunch with Oprah. Not only has Oprah inspired an incalculable number of people herself, she has shared time with the most celebrated difference makers in the world. How inspiring would it be to ask HER questions?

Second…Keanu Reeves. He is a gentleman who lives with such beautiful humility while quietly doing inspiring things to create change and help others.

How lucky would I be to have a chance to share a conversation with either.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

ShawnAnderson.com and ExtraMileAmerica.org. On ShawnAnderson.com, it’s free to subscribe to the blog Extra Mile Thursday. For 500+ Thursdays, I’ve done my best to inspire readers to live with deeper purpose and more inspired passion…and I do it with unique stories each week.

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!

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