L ARUNA DHIR gives tips on being successful, especially in the hospitality sector
As a keen observer of people from different walks of life and their behaviour, I have come to the conclusion that success is not only the life-force of an Identity, but that it is also subjective. While each of us may dance to a different music, beat our own course on virgin path, look at possibilities with our unique pair of eyes and give distinct shapes to our professional destiny moulding the clay of nous and effort in our separate ways; the bottom line for measuring success remains universally the same. You ought to be the best in what you do, deliver to the best of your ability and strive for greater excellence at all times; it is then that you are truly successful.
While to the world, in its most generic manifestation, the rich entrepreneurs and businessmen, the heads of organizations, famous people in sports, media and entertainment are all supremely successful, I have a skewed view on that. To my mind the cobbler-by-the-street corner who has been practicing his craft over all these years and has become the block /colony favourite is a successful man. The deft nurse who gets asked for by most of the patients, the one who does her work with utmost sincerity to the Hippocratic Oath and ably assists the doctor in saving many lives yet many a times remains nameless, is a successful health provider. The teacher who has earned a reputation of churning out students who go on to become stars in their chosen profession, who however stays on at the same school year after year content with practicing her job to the best of her knowledge and with a rare sense of commitment, is a highly successful Guru.
In the hotel scenario, would a hotel be able to justify its luxury, five-star tag if it were not for that immaculate bottle washer, the finicky, squeaky clean housekeeper, the superlatively creative chef brigade, the committed and competitive sales force, the safety conscious and energy saving engineering team, the finest florist whose handiwork leaves such an impression on the guests that they may return to the place just for the fantastic arrangements that stay on the conversations long after the guest has gone back to his native place.
Many years back we had a lady who used to work for us at home, tending to our domestic needs. Like other members of her profession, she worked in several other houses besides ours. But what stood her apart was that she was never short of work. People asked for her to come and join their households, she was bestowed with a lot of gifts both on occasions and otherwise. We took turns in giving her money if she ran out of cash or needed the extra buck for getting herself or her husband treated. When she decided to leave this line and join a school as an administrative support, we all gave her glowing references – all true, mind you. Even now she visits us and is welcome anytime. And I think she is one of the most successful people I know. She is not rich, mighty or famous, but she IS successful.
If Sunita Williams is a successful astronaut and Neil Armstrong the first successful man on Moon, so are the set of skilled workers who work hard to ensure that every cog in the wheel of their spaceship works smoothly. If the flamboyant striker in a football league team is successful then so is the goalie who does not drop even a single ball.
If we must take names of the very famous from the world of hospitality, then Cesar Ritz, Conrad Hilton, Bill Marriott Jr., Barry Sternlicht, Jay Pritzker, PRS Biki Oberoi, Ian Schrager, Isadore Sharp, Horst Shulze are such legendary stalwarts who have shaped the way we will ever view hotels. These geniuses have changed the rules of the game uplifting simple inn-keeping to the art of selling desire and dreams, luxurious living and hedonistic lifestyles. But would these greats be such impresarios and game changers if it were not for the army of successful valets, hops, attendants, Chauffeurs, chefs, bakers, bed makers, sentries and sales people – all led to business victories by star General Managers who remain the chief custodian of the brand image and ethos!
As said before, way to success is individualistic with personal preferences defining the modus operandi to get to the final destination. Perhaps, one hotelier is a populist, has a lot of yearning and ambitious desire, is hungry for recognition and for being the best in whatever he does and plays unabashedly to the gallery. He has a deep need to be the number one in whatever he chooses to dabble in – casinos, cruises, adventure resorts, even awards and the recognized lists of the rich and famous. The second could be more niche, like to do only what he really likes to do; runs wonderfully innovative and creative hotels yet shuns the arc lights and turns down millions of bucks offered by Corporates wishing to partner with him. He may have a maverick inclination in his business sense, follow his heart and break several moulds in the process. The third hotelier may cash in on his personal strengths – flamboyance in personality, ability to attract media attention, developing creatively out-of-this-world sub-models within his brand and is a trailblazer in his thoughts and product development. All three hotelier types have been seen to be superbly successful in the world of hotels, yet each has a different approach or strategy. Three distinctive personalities, three strategies and three success stories!
It is an established fact that caste, creed, colour and social standing have no bearing on success. However, there are several common threads that run through successful people in their respective ilk and genré.
Four Attributes of Success –
Hard / Smart Work
The first thread or quality definitely is hard work or smart work. If you need to get somewhere you will have to burn the midnight oil to get there. There are no short cuts or quick fixes. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow uttered the following famous words, definitely my favourite quote –
Lives of great men reached and kept
Were not obtained by sudden flight;
They while their companions slept
Were toiling upwards in the night.
That was then, but even now look at the success stories of the geek-entrepreneurs dotting the Silicon Valley skyline and you will discover that many of these young guns end up sleeping for only a few hours putting in 18 working hours to realize their dreams. I am not advocating less sleep. What is being said is that one must be able to deliver more and surpass expectation.
If you want to be promoted, if you want to move up the corporate ladder then you need to be a fast, smart worker who packs in quite a punch in terms of his deliverables, quality and quantum of work.
The second quality would be persistence, perseverance and a consistent internal push. We would not have had light bulbs or telephones or planes or the revolutionizing concepts of relativity and Archimedes principle, to cite a few examples, had it not been for the never-say-die spirit of these zealous, determined folk. How many times have we been told by our seniors – If you try and fail once then try again. Would any of us have learnt any of the stuff we did while growing up, be it academics, sport, dramatics, elocution or hobbies had we just tried them once and not gone back, again and again? Ask the innovators, writers, scientists, manufacturers and entrepreneurs and they will reel off some mind boggling numbers for the times they tried, failed, tried again, failed once again, re-attempted ………………till they finally succeeded.
With persistence I would link in grit and tenacity that keeps you in the groove of your chosen activity.
So go for it and keep going till you get there.
The third most important quality is, undoubtedly, passion. That definitely is the main driver in your path to success. If you don’t let that little light within you extinguish or quell the inner voice that eggs you on and if you keep the fire in your belly alive and stoked then it is passion that does it for you. It is passion that keeps you motivated in the face of flak, failure or fear.
Fervour, ardour, enthusiasm, zeal, craze, drive – call it by any name but it is passion that is your undying spirit which keeps your dreams alive and brings you a step closer to your coveted calling.
Vincent van Gogh, Christopher Columbus, Johann Sebastian Bach, King “Tut” Tutankhamun, John Keats are some of the world’s super famous and successful who either died poor or unknown and gained fame only posthumously. But it was their unstinting passion that kept them at it as they went about churning masterpieces after masterpieces.
If I could get to vote a fourth quality then it would be serendipity. The streak that sees the need, that truly believes that necessity is the mother of invention, that takes risks and craves for finding the extraordinary among the ordinary. The DNA that stays dynamic and active in the subconscious yet yields happy, useful, accidental discoveries by chance. It is the curious, insatiable spirit and the un-accepting diehard mind that urges you to pave a new road, YOUR course in a direction uncharted before.
The ‘W’ Factor
To sum up, lets coin the ‘W’ factor – Winning attitude with a high winsome quotient; Want as in desire or ambition; Way as in methodology, strategy, action plan; Wisdom as in assimilation of knowledge with practicality; Why – the curiosity, the thirst to know more and do more; Where to – the vision, the far sightedness; Will as in determination and fanaticism and finally Worship – by that I mean faith, veneration of the one above (whatever shape and form he or she takes for you) and a belief in yourself as an integral part of HIS universe.
Therefore, success is an attitude and a way of life. And yes, nothing succeeds like success!