I recently went to the newly released movie featuring the life of Julia Child, Julie & Julia! For those of us who have ever had a dream, and struggled many years to achieve it, it was downright inspirational! I loved it. It’s important not to take one’s self too seriously, but after 30 years in Private Service and now achieving age 60, it’s hard not to take some time on the subject. What I saw in the movie was an ambitious young woman, seeking to find her gift in life. Ultimately she found her calling writing about cooking with the great and very humorous Julia Child as her muse. I decided right then and there that while I have written many texts and manuals in the field of my passion, Household Management and Service, I have not often written from my heart. To that end, I am beginning today to do so. I hope you like what you read, and will respond if you feel inspired to do so!
Recently, our educator, Mr. Althoff and I provided a private training for a very special and well-respected, old guard hotel. The subject at hand was ”The giving and receiving of service”. I have traveled the world watching for and in search of “true service.” It is a subject upon which I have created a successful career. In the end, Household Management is all about service. One’s technical skills, while important, become very low on the scale of priorities without real and genuine service at the helm.
This training included several members of the hotel staff, both front line associates and management. The discussion centered on serving their new, mostly younger, guests. I made the statement that most of us in the U.S. under the age of 65 do not really understand how to receive service, most particularly those of us who are in the service industry. We all have been raised with a very intense “hard work ethic,” and when it is uncomfortable or unfamiliar, we prefer to just do it ourselves!
My statement about receiving service, while interesting to some, went right over the heads of most in the room until the Operations Manager of the property stopped the conversation and shared the following story: I recently was at an upscale golf club. My caddy kept wiping off my clubs, deciding which one I needed, and fetching and washing my golf ball. Annoyed, I finally stopped him and said, “Please, I can really do this myself!” My caddy, equally frustrated, said, “It’s my job to help you, let me take care of you!” This very smart manager, at that moment, really got it! “This is what you are talking about,” he said with total amazement emanating brightly from his face. “How can we expect our new guests to appropriately receive when we as providers do not know how it is done?” There was total silence in the room. I could have kissed him with appreciation. He gets my gold Starkey Star for the year!
My intimate understanding of service is that those who come to give service in their life, need to also learn how to receive it, as much as those who receive service, typically have yet to also learn how to give. And finally, when genuine service does really happen, giving and receiving at the same time, in the same moment, an alchemical flash throughout time occurs. It is a moment in our life that few forget. It is why we have something that it is so ill understood, SERVICE!