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What I Learned from a Restaurant Server About the Value of Commitment
Some investments have nothing to do with money
How good is good enough?
Could life be ready to offer you more — happiness, financial success, a great relationship — if you were willing to commit to doing what’s necessary to receive it?
About 30 years ago, my then-boss invited an important client and myself to dinner at the Golden Eagle in Phoenix. The Golden Eagle was a very expensive restaurant perched on top of a high-rise office building in the center of downtown. The view was phenomenal. And so were the prices.
At the time, dinner at the Golden Eagle was completely out of my budget, so I looked forward to an experience that would be truly unique for me. What I didn’t anticipate was the lesson I would learn — and even more important, the source who would deliver it.
Our server was extraordinary.
We never had to ask for anything. He seemed to have a sixth sense about what was needed and would appear, seemingly out of nowhere, with extra butter, rolls, more drinks, ice, etc.
I don’t know what the total bill was for the three of us, but I saw my boss add a $100 tip. That was a lot of money thirty years ago, especially for a gratuity. But I realized I had never experienced service to the degree this waiter had provided.
And that’s when the lesson began.
As we prepared to leave, the client and my manager took a minute to use the restroom. This left me alone in the restaurant lobby. While I was waiting, our server walked up, smiled, and asked if everything was alright. I told him dinner was excellent and his service had been outstanding.
He thanked me for the compliment and then explained that his shift was over, but he would not leave until all the guests he’d served had left the building.
As we continued to chat, I mentioned that even though our respective careers were very different, I assumed there was a lot of similarity in the expectations of our supervisors, especially when setting goals for the level of performance required to receive recognition for our efforts.
I mentioned that most of our new hires had no idea of the amount of time and energy required to be successful in our business and, because of it, one of my responsibilities was conducting training classes for new salespeople, hoping to improve their productivity and effectiveness.
I asked the waiter — he told me his name was Matt — if the restaurant had a similar program. He told me there was an introductory one-day training session to acquaint their new hires with policy and procedure, but the program didn’t contain any material on how to be a better server or how to provide outstanding customer service.
In Matt’s opinion, a Golden Eagle employee was already operating at an exceptional level before they were hired, and their presence at the Golden Eagle was simply a confirmation of their on-going ability to consistently meet and exceed the customer’s expectations.
Matt went on to tell me he started his career five years ago waiting tables at Denny’s. As he increased his rapport skills and dedication to the job, he quickly saw the difference between his income and that of the other servers grow more disproportionate.
Customers often asked for his station. They enjoyed his level of service and they remembered him for it.
From Denny’s, he moved up the ladder to work at more expensive restaurants, realizing his income would increase where customers typically spend more money.
He made a commitment to be the best at what he was doing.
When he went to work, he concentrated on work.
While other employees chatted with each other about their weekend plans or daydreamed about what they would rather be doing, Matt was busy checking on his tables, bringing samples of food for customers to try, re-filling drinks, and always making sure he offered eye contact with every patron as he moved from station-to-station.
The point? Matt had committed to being the absolute best server he could be.
He didn’t think of his job as “temporary until he could find something better,” or beneath his social station, education, or potential. He understood the value of doing something to such a degree of perfection that others would recognize his efforts and be willing to compensate him accordingly.
How much is accordingly?
Matt told me his income from tips was just over $120,000 a year.
At that time, I was working for a Fortune 200 corporation and had recently received recognition for being one of the top ten most productive salespeople in the company. I made about $65,000 a year.
This restaurant waiter was making nearly twice my salary.
Because of his commitment.
The main reason people fail in their jobs (and their relationships) is usually due to a lack of commitment. They want what they want, but they’re not willing to put their arms around it and make it a part of their life. They simply “go along for the ride,” doing the minimum necessary to make a living.
Consequently, those who refuse to commit to consistently delivering their absolute best seldom realize the maximum rewards available from their choice of career, spouse, religion, relationship — you name it.
There isn’t any part of your life that can’t be improved by deciding to fully commit your time, energy and attitude to make it better.
Here’s the Takeaway . . .
Life is pretty much a neutral experience. You get out of it what you put in. And if you’re not getting what you want — not receiving what you need to feel happy, content, and satisfied — it’s time to either fix it or change it, with the goal of making it into something you can commit to.
If you get the premise of this article, you know what I’m really saying: You need to fix you, change you, make you into the kind of person who does whatever is necessary to make your life a committed experience, including everything and everyone in it.
Regardless of whether it’s your job, a relationship, or a new start-up, making the commitment to give it all you’ve got—then following through—will not only create the maximum benefit from the experience, you’ll discover that magic sense of being involved - of doing something that makes a difference, not only for yourself, but for others as well.
Thanks for reading,
Roger A. Reid, Ph.D. is a certified NLP trainer with degrees in engineering and business. Roger is the author of Better Mondays and Speak Up, and host of Success Point 360 Podcast, offering tips and strategies for achieving higher levels of career success and personal fulfillment in the real world.