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A local restaurant that I patronize is halting its in-house dining. They’re doing it because some customers have yelled at their service staff for insisting they wear a mask when ordering at the counter. The owner noted on a social media video that a few customers’ poor behaviors put too much risk on the staff and other customers.
Here, the owner is dancing the fine line between caring for staff, serving patrons, and running a profitable business. If you’re a business owner or leader, you know this dance very well.
Much of this world is out of our control. We can’t control customers’ mindset when they walk into a restaurant, call a help desk, order a product, or sign up for a subscription. We can’t control the fact that things will happen that aren’t part of the plan. We can control our response. It’s how we react to whatever we face things that reveal the character of your brand.
Sometimes we need constraints to know what matters most to us. Any brand that tries to be too many things to too many people is bound for failure and disappointment. Sometimes, the hardest thing is to simply be ourselves in the face of outward pressure to be what others expect us to be.
We over-serve our customers when we drift from our values. And we risk mis-serving customers when we drift from our expertise. The best brands live at the intersection of their expertise and convictions.
Here’s something that may sound contradictory: It’s likely what we’re supposed to be next; we need to be more of ourselves. This includes getting through constraining circumstances.
Here are some ways to be, to create what’s next:
1. Be unignorable.
You don’t succeed by doing good work. You succeed by doing your absolute best. You succeed by being generous. You succeed by caring. Be so great that they can’t ignore you. The best of brands are so, because of their exceptional nature.
2. Be persistent.
You will be tested. People will deny you, challenge you, expect things of you. Many times things won’t go as planned. Persistence is the path through challenges. Persistence is the measure of belief you have in yourself. Sometimes the only difference between a failed business and a successful one is that the latter didn’t give up when times got tough.
3. Be courageous.
Standing by your convictions, especially in the face of significant outside pressure, is not easy. When an irate customer posts an online review because your staff refused service, you need the courage to respond with character. Don’t let fear advise you.
4. Be of service.
To serve, you have to know who you intend to serve, what value people get from your service, in what ways they need your service now. Check to ensure the service is aligned with your convictions, then go serve.
5. Be tethered.
Like likes like. The way to attract exceptional people and companies’ attention is to be exceptional, do exceptional, think exceptional, write exceptional, design exceptional, and be an exceptional leader.
6. Be evolutionary.
Your evolution doesn’t expect that you’ll stop being you. Rather, it insists that you find your way into the deeper part of you—the part that knows your truth, your convictions, your power, and your greatest potential that’s already in you. It’s the convicted-expert-genius in you. It just needs to be harvested.
7. Be yourself.
A great brand is built on deeply held convictions and earned expertise. This creates confidence and choices. When you know what you stand for and what you won’t stand for, you know your options. When you know both your options and your convictions, it makes the inevitable hard decisions easier.
Your character will be tested in constraints. It’s during these times when you need to be crystal clear about your values and principles.
“All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me… You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” — Walt Disney