It was a regular Monday morning and I had prepared fresh coffee pots for the rush-hour – even stacked up some empty cups. The next few hours of 6 AM to 9 AM would entail nonstop coffee serving in the drive-through and the storefront.
During the 18 months that I worked at Tim Hortons, I upset a few customers. From accidentally getting their coffee wrong or misinterpreting their order.
Jim (fake name) was one of these upset customers. I did not stir his coffee completely and he was extremely upset with the unpleasant taste of a poorly-stirred coffee. His reaction was contagious, he cut through the line and yelled at me for messing it up. Other customers, also got panicky and started double checking their own orders.
After getting a new coffee, he sat at Tim Hortons with a frowny face for the next two hours.
As a result of that, I was upset and not confident in my ability to fill orders….
After a few hours I messed up another coffee order. Instead of giving Jennifer a steeped tea, I gave her a bagged tea. I was expecting her to come back and react the same way as Jim.
However, when she came back she was calm thoughtful and did not let that coffee order change her mood – unlike Jim who was still in the store with a frown face.
In my break after this rush hour, while drinking my tea I wondered why did two people react so differently to a mistake I made?
Jim “reacted” impulsively without realizing the effect of his decision on his emotions, mood, and stress levels.
Jennifer “responded” consciously thinking through how she will deal with the situation.
I realized that, it’s not the upset customer that makes me lose confidence, but it’s my inability to handle the consequences of an upset customer that makes me lose confidence.
I realized that, it is not the conflict with a friend or a loved one that hurts us, but it’s our inability to handle the consequences caused by conflict.
I realized that, it is not the uncertain work conditions of a start-up that stress me, but it’s my inability to handle the consequences caused by these uncertainty that disturbs me.
It is not the unmet expectations from a co-worker that stress us, but it’s our inability to handle the consequences caused by unmet expectations.
It is not the traffic jams that annoys us, but it’s our inability to handle the consequences caused by traffic.
Lessons Learned – Take it All In
- Most of the chaos is caused internally, not due to external events.
- Things are always coming at you, thus, learn to “take it all in”.
- Always respond, not react.
- Reactions are always impulsive and instinctive whereas reactions are well thought through.