When life gives you lemons…find your local bartender, it’s showtime

I have always loved the “life giving you lemons” sayings, they can be so dynamic, and in my world, I always have lemons. Real lemons for cocktails, personal lemons for souring my day and even a car or two has qualified as a lemon:)

Like all my posts, this begins with a personal experience and a desire to learn from it.

I was reminded last week of the sometimes paralyzing challenge that comes from huge change and transition in your personal life. All the while, “business as usual” is expected on the store front and at the office.

How hospitable do you feel with a broken heart? or a lost loved one? What about both?

The expectations were set by you ages ago, and now you are ONLY “supposed” to be on top of your game, ONLY ready to deliver at each service moment. Your pay, your tips depend on it. Your a service provider.

It is as though each day, your front door (or the kitchen door in your restaurant), is a shower that removes your sour emotions and checks you into being “hospitable”.

No person is insulated to “personal” life issues hindering “profession”, likely most of you have a recent experience that relates, so here is the question;

How do you deal? Do you Crumble? Wear is on your sleeve table side? Purge to a friend? Act?

I used to crash, then I created a process, and the truth is, it worked, so I kept it.

I wanted to share, as I feel it pays to write it down as a sort of road map to really on.

Phil’s 6 steps to Showtime!

#1 – Know the problems, not the PROBLEM –  For most, we bulk our problems together, forming 1 HUGE problem, truth is even 100 small problems are easier to solve that 1 BIG problem. Identifying them clearly is the first way to start creating space from them. Time is needed.

#2 – Eat Right!It never fails to amaze me how many of us in the hospitality industry don’t eat right, or truly, how many hospitality professionals just don’t eat enough. We are around it all day and sometimes it is the last thing on our minds…FEED SELF! Nutrition in times of emotional hardship becomes CRUCIAL, where it was only Vital before.

#3 – Exercise!!!!Even for 10 minutes, a light walk around the block would even do. I am a runner, so I get one in each day. I don’t need to elaborate on the benefits, but simply, your physiology (even emotional), really on good blood flow and a quick walk can give you a moment to centre yourself on shift or just before. Find me a person who says sedentary is the way forward in times of emotional drain?!

#4 – Over Prepare.. – In times when your mind is on “dealing” with emotional issues, preparation and “setup” can save you a world of lost time. I start a process of “night before” lists to ensure I am not surprised by my day and to ensure I  have a moment or two to grieve, I am not a robot. I may have shares in “Post-It” notes because of some over preparing.

#5 – Get your friend on shift, on board – I will admit, as a longtime barmen, I was a dumping ground for servers and woeful bar-side problems, Getting it out, and having a sounding board (for support), WILL prevent you from snapping table side and “accidentally” telling a customer to “stick it”. In every study I have seen on staff retention and loyalty, having a “best friend” on shift for support is the #1 or #2 reason a staff member will stay with you beyond the 3 month avg. turnover. Find a friend!!

#6 – Showtime! – This is my favourite part, time to pick your personality, pick your attitude, pick how you are going to ACT.

  • You know the issues and have some space around them
  • You have enough energy to get through the shift
  • You got the blood working, for your brains sake, and your sanity
  • You are prepared, each pen and paper in place
  • You have a SOUNDING Board who “get’s it”

It is time to get on stage (floor, or bar, or office stage), and decide before you start, WHO, you are going to be. Me, I always had “Phil the Bartender”, pure smiles and philosophy, with the odd “sleeve” moment.

BUT, he was more and more prepared each time, I feel like I truly have built the mechanism to become more resilient when hospitality needs to be front of mind.

This used to be my release, and now it has become part of my therapy.

SHOWTIME! is taking myself out of my problems and putting myself on stage for the sake of 8 hours, my commitments and my financial future.

No guarantees, but more times than not, it works, and my self loathing always got me nowhere but feeling like a victim.

I feel like Maya Angelou might have known the entertainment and hospitality business better than most anyone, here is a quote that puts it into perspective for me every time;

“Someone was hurt before you, wronged before you, hungry before you, frightened before you, beaten before you, humiliated before you, raped before you…yet, someone survived…You can do anything you choose to do.” Maya Angelou

Get to doing!



One thought on “When life gives you lemons…find your local bartender, it’s showtime”

  1. Great post! Getting fired for being mopey and having low performance will only add to the problems. And staying active is more therapeutic than sitting around wallowing.

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