During a recent telephone conversation with one of my direct reports and who has multi-unit responsibility nationally; she shared that she felt somehow she had let me down, that I had lost confidence in her. Prior to that call if you had asked me what I thought of her, I would have said; she is very talented and extremely intelligent with outstanding knowledge and experience. She is one of my best managers. Her statement caught me off guard and I didn’t quite know how to respond. When I asked her to explain more about what she meant, she revealed that through some recent decisions I had made and things I had said, led her to feel I had lost confidence in her. After thinking about it overnight here’s what I shared with her the next day……
First of all, thank you for being honest and vulnerable to me. It gives me hope that we’re on the right track with our commitment to overcoming the five dysfunctions of a team (tip of the cap to Patrick Lencioni and his book). I apologize for not having more insight into how these decisions may have impacted you. I want to share an old article with you, because I am bound to mess up again. I wrote the title of that article down and carried in my pocket for weeks as a young General Manager in my first hotel. I had been on the job for less than 90 days. Things had been tough; we were running higher costs and less profit on our P&L, and ranked near the bottom in customer service scores within the 50 hotels in our geographical region by the brand. My boss had blasted me earlier that morning on our weekly call. I retreated to my office and while sitting there sulking found an article by a guy named Harvey MacKay. The article was titled “Believe in yourself, even when no one else does.” Here’s the article:
Remember the four-minute mile? People have been trying to achieve it since the days of the ancient Greeks. In fact, folklore has it that the Greeks had lions chase the runners, thinking that would make them run faster. They also tried tiger’s milk, not the stuff you get down at the health-food store, but the real thing. Nothing worked. So they decided it was impossible. And for thousands of years everyone believed it. It was physiologically impossible for a human being to run a mile in four minutes. Our bone structure was all wrong. Wind resistance too great. Inadequate lung power. There were a million reasons. Then one man, one single human being, proved that the doctors, the trainer, the athletes, and the millions and millions before him who tried and failed were all wrong. And miracle of miracles, the year after Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile, thirty-seven other runners broke the four minute mile, and the year after that three hundred runners broke the four minute mile. What happened? There were no great breakthroughs in training. Human bone structure didn’t suddenly improve. But human attitudes did.
Think about the stonecutter: She hammers at her rock a hundred times without denting it. On the hundred-and-first blow, the rock will split. You know it is not that blow that did it but all that had gone before. You can accomplish your goals . . . if you set them. Who says you’re not tougher, smarter, better, harder-working, more able than your competition? It doesn’t matter if they say you can’t do it. What matters, the only thing that matters, is if you say it. Until Bannister came along, we all believed in the experts. Bannister believed in himself . . . and changed the world. If you believe in yourself, well, then, there’s nothing you can’t accomplish. So don’t quit. Don’t ever quit believing in yourself.
So what happened, I started to believe in myself even when no one else did. Our little hotel went on to be ranked the highest in customer scores in the region, our cost management improved, revenues grew, and due to the hard work of every single person on that hotel staff we received the “Best Hotel” in the company award at year end. I learned to believe in myself, my department heads began to believe in themselves …. everyone including our night cleaner believed. . . . I got promoted the next year but I will never forget that hotel team and Harvey’s article.
Hope you have a great week. Remember there is always a big blue sky somewhere… if not today maybe tomorrow.