On the weekend, my friend Lulu and I went out for a fabulous lush lunch by the waters’ edge in Sanctuary Cove to celebrate her birthday. While we were discussing our fifteen years of friendship – I am not sure how the subject came up but – we ended up debating the topic ‘dedication and putting your heart into something’. Lately, it has come to my attention that more and more people run on autopilot and live with little or no intention. They pick a job, any job that will pay the rent, put some easy fast food on the table and buy a carton of beer to work through over the weekend in order to forget the job they dread so much. This cycle of events is quite interesting if you think about it. Should we define this behaviour loop as ‘living’ or merely ‘existing’?
Let’s have a look at our restaurant experience. Most people working in restaurants on the Gold Coast know very little about food culture, food in general and what the menu has to offer their guests; not to mention having any knowledge about how to serve the client and the importance of human interaction while doing so. This became very obvious when the hostess guided us to our table. To my surprise, in such a nice establishment, there was no napkin on my friend’s side of the table and on my side, part of the cutely was missing – we had to ask for it. The rest of the luncheon was quite enjoyable. However, I can recall numerous restaurant visits during which getting the waiter or waitress’ attention was truly a mission or when the food was finally served, the waitress looked like she was in excruciating pain, sending out vibes of ‘do not ask me for anything else’. Looking at scenarios like this one makes me wonder what kind of vibes and emotions these individuals fill their mind with for at least eight hours a day… and what the effect of this resentment will be on the remainder of their life experience.
Even if I ponder for days, I simply am unable to comprehend why someone would want to live that way. One could say that these people don’t have experience in the field or did not receive proper training. But, the lack of industry knowledge is usually not a deal breaker – any basic skill can be taught, however, being keen to learn something new and wanting to execute a task to the very best of ones ability is something completely different. When there is passion, even a spark of it, people notice this in the interaction process, resulting in giving them a much better experience. But then, one can argue that a task or a job is just a means to an end. In my experience, not one job I ever had was a means to an end – it might seem that way at the time, however, later on in life it often become clear what this experience taught you and as Steve Jobs once said:’ You can only connect the dots looking backwards.’
When asked, so many people express the fact that they do not like their job. So, if this is the case, then there are only two options: One: change it (immediately as time only comes once) or Two: flip your mindset to gratitude for having a job and learn to put your heart into what you do. Your life will change 180 degrees! In any job or task there will always be beautiful moments and less pleasant ones. That is the polarity of life itself, like there is day, there is night and like there is summer, there is winter. Imagine everything was always pleasant, we would not be able to distinguish what was actually fun and life would be quite a dull journey. Not to forget that your worst day is someone else’s best day!
A great example of this was my summer job when I was nineteen. I remember it as if it was yesterday. I worked at Brussels airport handing out newspapers and airline tickets to tourists in search for the sun. Everyone was greeted with the same big smile, addressed in their language and any questions the travellers might have had, were answered with the same level of interest. If assistance was needed, I went out of my way to help and guess what? At the end of the summer season, we were all invited to a company dinner to thank all staff for their hard work. To my surprise, I was called on stage where I received an award for excellence in customer service as I had received 368 thank you cards from customers, expressing their satisfaction with the way their holiday had started. This was by all means not the most pleasant job, as I had to wake up at 2AM every day to be at the airport at 3.30AM all set up by 3.45AM to start serving the first customer. I often had to stay back late at night because flights were delayed, overbooked or cancelled and sometimes the job was stressful and involved dealing with people who were on edge because it was their first time away with the family, or they had forgotten their passport… but each and every time I calmed them down and tuned the situation around. For me, just the fulfilment I experienced from helping others to feel better was priceless. I continued this approach and applied it in all my following careers: in aviation, staff training and now educating and coaching.
Empathy, putting yourself in the shoes of the others and thinking of how you would like to be treated in this situation can help you transform a seemingly dull job into a genuinely enjoyable experience. By taking an interest in what you do and the willingness to learn and improve can make this transaction better day by day. In the end, you will reach a level of excellence, which will teach you a lot and this process is applicable to any area of work you will ever undertake in the future – and don’t forget to put your heart into it – only then you will truly be able to experience fulfilment, which in turn is priceless.