I’ve just returned from a week in Greece. Thanks to that visit, and the insights I gained there, I want to talk about the attitudes that keep us small and (all too frequently) shrivel our souls.
I want to remind us that it’s entirely possible to change our lives when we change our thinking.
The Greek economy has taken some bashing over the years, and it’s not unusual for westerners to poke fun, or see themselves as superior.
Please, please, park your judgement and look at what the people there are doing RIGHT! We could learn so, so much if we just pulled our heads out of our backsides.
Sure, they have sun, sea, sand, but it takes way more than our environment to create a good attitude, so park it before you go to your ‘it’s alright for them’ default.
Sun, sea and sand might not be the answer to all our woes, but they are good to enjoy for a while!
Just read and think about what’s stressing too many of us out and what we might learn.
1) In the tourism hotspots, attitude wins.
In a long drag of restaurants and bars, two stood out from the crowd. One we visited once, the other we went back to four times to eat and once to bid farewell.
One had an old guy with a parrot outside, great with the charm, directing people to a rooftop terrace with stunning views.
The food was okay, but the bill was easily double the price of any other restaurant. People left feeling full, but ripped off, and their TripAdvisor reviews are full of anger – and feeling they’d been ‘forced’ inside.
The second had Stavros – son of the owners, an older guy with bags of charm and wisdom to boot. He looked after people from the moment they stepped through the door.
The chef, another family member, personally spoke to guests and cooked to their liking if they had any special requirements. Every staff member was part of the family and all really looked after diners.
Nobody felt rushed – even with a queue outside (and there was always a queue for Mama Sofia’s!).
Returning customers were always remembered and welcomed warmly.
We spoke to a number of diners who return year after year, largely to be in this environment.
We overheard Stavros talking to someone he clearly knew well, someone who was all about making sure they’d built enough for their later years, all stress and business. Stavros shook his head and said: “If all you think about is retirement, you have lost – your mind is gone with the wind.”
Ouch! It’s true though, isn’t it? We’re focused so far into the future, we’re missing the present.
Their TripAdvisor reviews are overwhelmingly positive – good food, sensible pricing, great customer service.
In both cases, these restaurant teams are geared towards constantly identifying potential customers and building relationships – no hesitation, just talking to people.
We could ALL learn from that.
One was geared towards welcoming newcomers AND creating return trade.
The other relied on a gimmick, high pricing and one-time customers.
Both were full.
One turns people into advocates, the other creates enemies, actively telling others to stay away.
All work and no play: are you doing too much donkey work to stop and admire the view?
2) We spoke to our driver en route to the airport. We asked what happens at the end of the tourist season; did he work another job?
“No,” he beamed, “I do nothing. At the end of October, I relax, I travel, I visit my family for a few months over Christmas. I have created a really good life for myself.”
Pedal to the metal April-October. Relax November-March.
How many of us are burning out because we’re not taking enough downtime?
3) I want to remind you of that lesson from Stavros.
“If all you think about is retirement, you have lost – your mind is gone with the wind.”
We’re focused so far into the future, we’re missing the present.
What stands out for you here? What’s the biggest business lesson?
We might not all be able – or even want – to take five months off, but could we create more downtime?
Could we build in more time for relaxation, family, enjoyment, reading, learning, growth?
I remember being challenged to build in one week of downtime every month. I didn’t think it was possible, yet I’ve been doing it ever since.
When it comes to ‘empire building’, sure, we need to be building for the future, but do we need to be living there before it happens?
Greek food for thought.
Until next time,