Abdul is a 26-year-old young man I met few weeks ago at the Kisite Marine Park in Kenya. He was the sweetest and most dedicated waiter every five star hotel or restaurant in the world would love to employ because he was passionate and ‘in love’ with his work. At the end of our lunch, few remembered the delicious crab we were served, but rather Abdul’s infectious smile, humour and sense of ownership in dealing with customers.
When I asked him what makes him so passionate with his work on the island, his answer was simple: “I love my job and I want every single person who stops here to go back with a good memory of this place. I will do anything to make my customers feel exceptional.”
In the service industry, we often meet people who are there just to earn a living, obviously doing the wrong jobs as many are there for lack of better alternatives. For instance, many people end up in the hospitality industry because they did not do well in school and joined the sector as the last resort. Usually, some of these people have an inferiority complex.
I know, life is sometimes hard. We can all blame circumstances. Because they fell short of their life’s goals or failed to join a given career, some people curse the circumstances they think are responsible for the failure. Despite such failures, one has to work to be able to pay their bills.
However, as Steve Jobs once said, “You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.”
Loving one’s work is not always easy, especially when you think that your boss is not appreciative enough, or that you are underpaid, your colleagues do not co-operate well or when the working environment is not conducive, among others.
If you do not enjoy your work, how can you find energy in offering good services? We spend more time at work than at home, so, if you are in a job you are not in a hurry to come out of bed for, then you are not passionate enough.
The last time I was at a supermarket in town, I had the impression that the cashier was forced out of her bed. She looked so gloomy that even though I smiled at her, she could not shine up. She looked desperate and frustrated. Yes, we all have our personal issues but when you deal with customers, personal issues should never manifest or filter into your work.
If, from the first hour at work, you are already counting down the remaining hours of the day, or looking forward to your weekend on a Tuesday morning like this, then you are in the wrong path.
The first time I shared this quote of Martin Luther King Jr. during some training workshop in Conakry, Guinea, one of the participants testified about its relevance by sharing his personal experience. “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well’.”
Hussein Kouyate started working as a shoeshine boy in front of a big commercial building in Conakry. He was so smart and dynamic that soon after, he became the errands boy for the majority of people working in the building. The day he was offered a job as a cleaner in that building, he thought God had answered all his prayers.
Then few months after, he landed another job as a supervisor in that same building. Five years into the job, he rose up to the position of a manager. Who would believe that? He told participants that in every job he was offered, he made it a point to shine at it, saying that his first job as a shoe shiner probably shaped him into becoming someone who also wanted to “shine in all he does”.
If you are in the service industry, your passion should shine through and be noticed by your customers, suppliers, partners, your family and, most importantly, by yourself. Let your motto be, “If you can’t be in the job you love, love the job you are in”
Today is the right time to make your work fulfilling and fun so that you can enjoy serving others.
The writer is a customer service consultant and the publisher of The ServiceMag