Writing Wednesday 008: The Need to Be Challenged

There’s something about easy that doesn’t work for me. I need to be challenged, and often times will create challenges for myself if none present themselves. Right now my life is challenging, but mostly because I’ve consciously or unconsciously made it so. I’m ok with it, and would rather be faced with insurmountable tasks than the contrasting blandness of ease. If you’ve read anything I’ve written it’s pretty obvious I’m on a journey of personal growth and learning about myself as I write. I’m questing for more self-awareness and pushing to become the man I dream of becoming. That path isn’t easy in itself, but everything is dependent on one’s frame of reference. What you or I have gone through, or seen others go through gives us the measurement of ease versus challenge.

My frame of reference is much different than the average individual. I’ve been working nearly my whole life in a very challenging industry. When I say my whole life, I literally mean since 12 years old I’ve had a job or worked independent contracts in the hospitality industry. This industry demands more than others. Sacrifices must be made and are expected. Living in ways that the majority of society would completely abandon. Working conditions are often poor to put it mildly. I balk when I hear of an office drone complaining about their day sitting on their ass and their shitty boss. My frame of reference is 12–16+ hour days sometimes without ample time to eat or even use the restroom. The work never stops. Often the conditions are exacerbated by my own standards and work ethic. When I’m ‘on’ and in a work environment, I drive forward continually. There is always something else that could be done, more work to be had. Always a nook or cranny to be cleaned or detailed even when there appears to be a lull in the workload. This post is about challenges and I really challenge anybody who’s worked in a restaurant or the hospitality business to disagree. If there is disagreement to be had in regards to how much work there is to constantly do, then it is safe to say that the opposing party isn’t in the same echelon as I am. I definitely am not the best there is out there, but I’m diverse and have extensive experience across the entirety of hospitality. I care. Plenty of others within the industry do not. Maybe at one point they did, but now they could give a rats ass. Caring is what matters the most.

I’m simply illustrating a very small part of the mindset and conditions that are my current challenge. Those who don’t care on the same level, and a demanding physical and mental workload. Inspiring people to care more (in general) is one of my life’s ambitions. Now that’s a challenge. Nothing easy about getting someone to realize that they don’t care and should care more. Even someone who blatantly acts contrary to a caring attitude will recoil and refuse a blatant insinuation that they don’t care. Nobody likes to be questioned on such a deep level, even if the line of questioning has undoubted relevance. Admitting “I don’t care” is resigning to the truest form of mediocrity. What merit lies in apathy? None. I’m mostly referring to the professional realms, but societal and environmental also. Everyone is entitled to a certain level of apathy if it’s truly of little consequence. I’m apathetic towards reality tv, and there is no downside to that. But, when someone is apathetic in a professional setting it’s like a virus and can spread. The energy of someone who doesn’t care isn’t fun to be around, and I know anybody reading this can identify at least one person or instance where they relate to that statement. Ever had a teacher who didn’t care? A coworker? A family member? It’s a terrible condition. Challenging to say the least.

I’m faced with a challenge that is largely related to apathy. I chose this challenge and aim to surmount it. The hospitality (or Food & Beverage) industry is ripe with attitudes of apathy and I want to make a difference. I want to ignite positive change industry wide and demonstrate real care. I can’t do it alone though, and finding those willing to help is a subset of the greater challenge. Someone willing to help the industry that understands the true nature of it is hard to come by. I spent a great portion of 2015 formulating a vision and plans but realized recently, that it will take many, many people to make anything actually happen. I think my most important and urgent challenge is to find a community of individuals that have also realized some of the epiphanies I have and who actually care. They’re rare. But, thanks to the advent of technology and communication channels I can certainly aim for optimism. If there are like-minded, caring humans out there and there has never been a better time to find them or to collaborate from different parts of the globe. The industry is global, and therefore, the changes ultimately need to be throughout the world. Changes can happen, and will when a group of caring people sets out on a mission to change the industry.

I haven’t spoken in any specifics, and that’s intentional. I need to build on my ideas and plans before they’re fully worth sharing, but I hope that at least someone's interest may be sparked. To my knowledge, very few people are working on the mission of changing the food and beverage industry in this way. Working with the people. Because that’s what it is. It’s never as simple as other businesses, where P&L and the bottom line rule. This is a truly human industry and has a vast array of problems facing it. The solutions aren’t on a spreadsheet or in a box. They’re beyond any box and haven’t even been discussed yet. That’s part of what I’m here to do.

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