Thanks to the influence of a few of my mentors, I have started mixing some of my personal meditation practice into my professional work. The concept isn't new, but it is powerful. About a year ago, I received the best advice I've ever encountered - and it has profoundly changed the way I work, live and interact with others. It's this simple:
Before you do anything, take a breath.
When I first heard those words, I thought, "Well shit; that's it?" I was expecting some ground-breaking statement filled with ethereal wording and, well, just more words in general. While underwhelmed, I committed to turning it into practice for a test run. So for a week, before I sent an email, answered a question, or chose who I wanted to spend time with, I would take a breath. What I wasn't expecting was that in a single breath, I would find more clarity and an open window into my own intuition. My words were filled with more love; my decisions more rooted in what would actually serve me energetically. It allowed me the chance to have a quick gut check and stop myself from saying something that I would later regret. It helped me to avoid situations where I would be resentful of those around me.
So how does this relate to the hospitality business? I used to teach hoteliers the classic methods of how to solve guest problems in 4 steps. I would walk them through exhausting service manuals that were written more for compliance or to respect precedent, rather than have actual impact. When I changed my personal views on service, I started teaching people about the power of intuition (much thanks to Jenna Gessay for opening my eyes to this). If I've hired the right people, then I should trust them to make an intelligent decision based on their intuition. Giving them the permission to do this, just by taking a single breath and trusting that they'll do the right thing is true empowerment, beyond policy or procedure. When met with an angry guest or client. When they're about to send a defensive and reactionary email. When they're deciding how to impact somebody's experience. In all things, just take a breath.
Is it scary to give this much freedom to employees instead of standardizing their every move? Of course. But, for the most part, the worst that can happen is that they make a mistake and you, as a leader, now have the opportunity to be a coach and mentor them in the right direction. So give it a try; just take a breath.