The relationship you have with your restaurant is like all the other relationships you’ve had in your life. They all have their ups and downs. When things are good, you are walking on sunshine. No clouds in the sky. The birds are singing and there is a rainbow in every direction.
When things are bad. They can really suck. People aggravate you for breathing to loudly. You sneer at others that cross your path. Everyone seems to be out to get you and the universe is conspiring against your restaurant's survival. The clouds have moved in and constantly circle your life.
When the restaurant blues come to visit you (and if you own or run a restaurant they will), you need a plan to get out of the rut and back on track.
Just remember that the only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth. Awareness is critical. When you see yourself in a proverbial hole...stop digging! Awareness precedes choice and choice precedes change.
Here are some of the warming signs you might be falling out of love with your restaurant:
Shall we go on?
Being in a slump is normal. You cannot have sunshine every day, you need some rain in there if you want to grow. Successful restaurant owners and leaders appreciate the rainy days and harness their power into growth. How? Here are some ways:
It’s easy to be angry and fucking bitter towards the world. Watch the news for 10 minutes and surely it looks like a clusterfuck around us. Stop looking outward and refocus on the things you do have going on that are good. Yes, having an attitude of gratitude is paramount to long term success. When you are truly grateful for the things and people you have in your life you will find an inner peace that money cannot buy.
Think of the people or things (like being alive) that you are grateful for right now. Oh, if you say there is nothing to be grateful for then reframe the question to what could you be grateful for if you really thought about it. Your mind is a magnet and it does attract what you think about.
Think your restaurant and life is pretty much a shit show and that’s what you get.
Here’s a little exercise I like to do when I am not feeling filling charged about my brand (yes, it happens to all of us from time to time). I grab a piece of paper an number it from 1 to 50. Then I start to fill in the reason why I love my brand. Now, fair warning getting to 20 and even 30 is pretty easy. After 30 you are going to have to dig deep into the emotions of what you started and those feelings when you first opened like the excitement and thrill of turning an idea into reality.
That’s right, you did something very few can....you took a concept and made it come to life. Keeping it alive depends on the love and energy you can maintain for it. Getting a little nostalgic and thinking back to the beginning is a great place to start.
It has been said that without a vision the people perish. Your restaurant and your life must also have a vision for the future. Without it you have nothing pulling you towards a compelling horizon. You basically are stuck and you spin your wheel everyday just trying to maintain (protect) what you have. While you stand still the competition starts to surround you and slowly cuts into your market stealing your top talent and your guests.
If you are not growing both professionally and personally you are dying a slow death of complacency. Better to go down fighting than to be forgotten due to lack of action.
Take Better Care of Yourself
Chances are you are not taking care of yours of like you should be. Now you can blame it on the business we are in and serve up the bullshit excuse you don’t have time. Or, you can stop lying to yourself and admit that it’s just not important to you.
Allow me to throw a little Stoic philosophy your way with a simple Latin phrase, Memento Mori. It means “remember death”. Yes, you and I are dying. We can’t escape it. All we can do is live each day fully and to become better humans. Hopefully leaving an impact upon the world that others will remember us for the good that we left behind.
Legacy is what drives the human race to have children and build monuments. What will your legacy be? What do you want people to remember about you?
I can tell you from firsthand experience that taking care of yourself needs to rise to the top of your list. Personal health is a taboo topic in the restaurant industry (along with mental health) and we need to address this as a community. Too many succumb to poor eating habits, lack of exercise, and abuse of alcohol (and drugs). We use those things to escape the world around us. How about creating a world that you don’t have to escape from?
You have done it before.
You have taken ideas and transformed them into reality. You have bent time to be your bitch when you really applied yourself and yet now time is your master. You stopped creating the world you wanted when you got a little taste of success. You took your foot of the accelerator of life and coasted. Now here you are complaining about your restaurant and your life.
The time is now to get exactly what you want from your restaurant and your life. How? It’s simple in theory, yet it will become the biggest challenge you have faced in some time. You got soft when you got a taste of success and you are going to need to get dirty to get that edge back. Think Rocky III when he had to fight Mr. T! You need to get the eye of the tiger! Insert song here that is playing in your head right now.
Step One: Stop lying to yourself. I wrote an entire book on this topic. If your restaurant and life is not 100% the way you want it then you have to admit that it sucks a little. Pick up your copy on Amazon Here.
Step Two: Take action. Drive your ass to the gym and sign up, like today. Everyone talks a good game. Those that win the game takes steps everyday to ensure they win.
Step Three: Meditate at least 10 minutes a day. With amazing apps out their like Calm and Headspace you don’t have an excuse not to meditate. It will help you relax, clear your mind, and is shown to increase happiness. If you say you don’t have 10 minutes a day to meditate, then you MUST make time to meditate. In as little as a week you’ll start to see some changes in your behavior. Plus, those around you will notice and it might shift their mind from jumping ship at your restaurant.
Step Four: Eat better. It really fucking baffles me how crappy restaurant owners and managers eat. Hey, I did it too back in the day...standing over the garbage can shoving down a bowl of cold food in my mouth before the next ticket came in on the kitchen printer. You don’t have to be an animal and scarf food down in the corner. Sit down, chew your food, and enjoy it. Come on, you work in the restaurant business and you don’t even give yourself the same courtesy that you extend to your guests.
Step Five: Get some sleep. I know that when you get home after a big dinner rush there is a certain adrenaline rush that you want to keep going. Many turn to alcohol or drugs to keep that high going. The nights become longer and the days shorter because you slept through most of it. You wake up with just enough time to be at work on time. You might even not have showered. Get control of your demons before they truly bring you down. If, you can’t do it alone, find help...professional help. How can you tell if you have a problem? Here’s a sign: if you find yourself at an ATM at 3 am then you have a problem. Nothing good happens at 3am...yes, I’ve been there.
Step Six: Workout. I know you are on your feet all day. I know you don’t feel you have time to exercise. You sound like a broken record of excuses to why you can’t do it. Remember step one? Stop lying to yourself. You do have time if you make it a must.
You can excuse the shit out of anything! You can also find the internal drive to accomplish anything you desire. You have to turn those “shoulds” into a MUST.
Remember that you never get your shoulds, you get the things you must have.
Don’t believe me? Try to hold your breath and not take another. Your body can hold off for a few minutes and eventually you will gasp for air. You must breathe to survive. That’s the same way you get what you want in life. It has to be as important to you as taking that next breath.
We fall in love and sometimes we fall out of love. If you are in the latter, you can save it, if (and it’s a really big if) you want to. That is a question you will have to uncover for yourself. Do the 50 Exercise and rediscover why you started your restaurant or got into the restaurant business.
There is a fire inside you that you let go out. Time to rekindle that love affair once again. Once it starts back up you must feed that fire every damn day.
“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.” - Norman Cousins
The restaurant world needs your internal fire to burn bright. Become a beacon for hospitality. Drop the bullshit, the excuses, and lying to yourself.
When you finally face the truth, you will become free.
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