We have all had times when we question ourselves. Especially if you work in the restaurant industry. Some call it burnout. Some call it a sign to get out. Actually, it’s more like you have been disconnected from the driving force that sustains you. That force is still there, it’s just taking a nap.
This post is not to talk you out of being in the restaurant business. What we’re going to talk about is why you love this business so much and how to awaken that fire deep down inside. Quitting is easy. It’s easy to say, “I’m just not right for the industry.” That’s the cowards way out. Chances are if you are reading this, you truly love the chaos and intensity of this roller coaster business and now you just have to realize again why.
You Are Fueled By People
We are drawn to the restaurant industry because we get energy around other people. You probably have felt this magnetic quality that you can’t quite put your finger on. Don’t feel bad because it’s wired into our DNA to be social creatures. Human beings gather for the common good of the collective. We have families, feel connections to neighborhoods, build cities, and go to restaurants to share life.
Breaking bread has been such a long tradition that it’s unknown when the first human actually reached out and offered another person some food. No matter how divided we can be on issues, we can come back to the dining table to share what holds us together....humanity.
You don’t have to be an easy going social person (high extrovert) to have the need to be around people for energy. Look at a professional football game. It would be easy (and probably a lot cheaper) to sit at home, alone, with a carry out meal from your favorite neighborhood restaurant watching the game and yelling at the TV about the bad call the referee just made. It’s the human synergy and energy we crave. That’s why restaurants and bars get more business come game day. That’s why football stadiums sell out with tens of thousands of raving fans. People amplify emotions.
You Feel the Desire to Give
Think about what restaurants are at their essence: a place to restore your soul. Don’t think so? Let’s take a trip back in time to Paris in 1765. There was a small tavern owner and soup maker named Monsieur Boulanger who thought it was a great idea to be able to sell food to the public. However, back then the guilds (unions) controlled that and it was not allowed. Boulanger went to court and he won his case due to the fact that there was no Soup-makers Guild.
He was a badass for going up against the guilds and fighting for his right to sell what he called “a restorative” to the masses. Basically it was a bowl of sheep’s feet in a white sauce (not cutting edge culinary by today’s standards, but let’s roll with it).
The sign above his door allegedly proclaimed, “Boulanger débite des restaurants divins,” (“Boulanger sells restoratives fit for the gods.”) Now, the word restaurants here refers to rich broths then considered capable of restoring one’s health. Restaurant used in many languages today actually comes from the French verb restaurer, meaning “to restore or refresh.”
*Next time you dig into a bowl of your favorite dish in a white sauce, look up and say thanks to a little rebel who went up against the establishment.
The trouble comes when you give and give to others without remembering that you also need to give to yourself. If your health has taken a turn or you find you are just exhausted at the end of the day, then you need to face the fact that you are not giving to yourself. How can you give to others if you fail to make sure you are at your best, your peak performance levels? You can’t. Then you start looking for the exit signs. It’s not time to get out. It’s time to cowboy up and take care of you. Eat better (come on you are surrounded by fresh ingredients). Sleep better (unplug that XBox earlier or stop sending Snaps at two in the morning). Get some exercise (yes, you are on your feet all day in a restaurant however that doesn’t necessarily get your heart rate up or improve your cardiovascular capacity).
You Love the Chaos
Come on. Deep down you love this business! The excitement of dinner rush can give you a buzz that you can’t wait to get back the next night. You might say you don’t like it (even going out of your way to tell others). Yet, when you are sitting there alone with your thoughts, you miss it. You crave it. You need it.
Now if your restaurant is not run well, then you might not have those warm happy feelings about working the service rush. However, if you have ever worked in a restaurant with a seasoned team that seems to move like a well choreographed dance, then you know exactly the feeling of being on the edge of being out of control yet still in control. Mario Andretti said it best, “If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough!”
You live for this. The restaurant is your stage and every night is a performance that allows you to participate in an event that elevates the human experience to a higher level...that’s what restaurants truly do.
If you have been in the restaurant business for any time and you search your heart, you might see that you don’t want to leave the restaurant industry. Maybe you need to find a better leader to work with? The business is flooded with bad and average restaurants that give our industry a really bad reputation. There are amazing leaders to work with. Maybe you are one too. Maybe you just forgot to connect with your why. Read this post again and see if you can reignite the spark you once had. When you do, then take great care to fuel that fire and make a commitment to keep it burning inside.
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