I recently had one of my team members express to me, “I’ve been asking myself why I chose this profession.” 2020 has been one of the toughest years I’ve experienced in my career and I’m sure it’s the same for most of you in the restaurant industry. Being forced to close my businesses, lay off every one of my team members, and struggle to pay bills barely scratches the surface of the emotional toll it’s taken to continue moving forward.
The risks definitely do not outweigh the rewards, but for some reason I don’t want to give up. Is the risk of getting sick and possibly dying worth opening my doors? What about those who put themselves at risk by engaging with our guests at the tables? It feels like a much easier decision to simply close and start finalizing payments for past-due bills or outstanding invoices. If there were an ideal time to get out of the hospitality business, this would be it. Nobody would dare shame me for making that decision.
After 25 years of cooking across the world, opening restaurants, building kitchens, inspiring future generations, and finally achieving accolades, it’s hard to imagine walking away. What is my “why” for continuing? “I’ve worked too hard to give up,” and “My passion definitely outweighs my fear,” are both good reasons. But here’s the raw truth: My “why” is my family.
I work the long hours because I know that my story has the power to change someone’s life if I decide to share it.
I wake up each morning to protect the quality of life I have with my wife. I keep walking to ensure that the people I work with—who are an extension of family—can provide for their own. I push to inspire [in] others [the knowledge] that determination, courage, and perseverance define a good mindset. I work the long hours because I know that my story has the power to change someone’s life if I decide to share it. I remind myself that I’m only composing a chapter and not the finale. I go to bed each evening thinking about solutions to the challenges I’ve encountered throughout my day and how I can solve them for my family at large.
Yesterday I heard a story about Colorado buffalo that resonated. These massive animals walk headfirst into storms on the horizon because they understand they can get through them faster by embracing the uncomfortable. Cattle, on the other hand, walk away from the storm, thus prolonging the inevitable and enhancing their fear of the discomfort. I refuse to run from the storm of 2020 because I know that once it passes there’s a picturesque rainbow waiting.
I’ve seen too much darkness in my life to constantly live in it and I choose to search for light each day. As I continue trudging along through treacherous conditions, I pray that the other side of the storm is soon within grasp.
What is your “why”? Email your experiences (and thoughts, opinions, and questions—anything, really) to firstname.lastname@example.org.