I was in London recently and stayed at one of those everyday budget hotels near Paddington Station. The ease of transport from Heathrow Airport to the hotel is just a 15 minute direct train ride and luggage pull along the streets is manageable. It looks like an exodus of travelers because many take this route. Now, by knowing the area, I am fully aware that the room will likely be 7 feet by 10 feet wide and the bathroom will be about as big as your airplane washroom. Unlocking the door, ‘yup’, it is just like I pictured it because I stayed in a similar hotel the last time and the time before. There is a single bed that is 6 feet long…and I am 6 feet long. There is a 3 foot wide walk through the room to the window that leads to a tiny desk and opposite that is a small wardrobe to hang my weary clothes. The bathroom is tiny but manageable. This description is by no means a complaint because I knew exactly what I was getting – clean, comfortable, safe and easy access to where ever I needed. It fits the bill both from a convenience and financial level. I am here for four nights.
The morning of the checkout, I was the first down for breakfast at 7:00am. The lights were off and no one was around. I stopped because I thought to myself, “is today a later start?” Well, they saw me and turned on the lights and then proceeded to line up the breakfast items. Within 3 minutes, breakfast was laid out and it was the exact same as the previous 3 mornings. Everything was where it should be and there was no change. It was as if there was some hidden marker on the table to say exactly where everything should go. For the entire four nights I have been here, the breakfast is exactly the same every morning. The cold cut is the same every morning, the cheese is the same every morning, the cereal is the same every morning, the boiled eggs are the same every morning and it goes on and on. They bring the same type of toast – 6 half slices and put it in front of me. I order my tea.
While sitting there, I was reflecting how this breakfast might also represent our daily lives. I come across so many people who have, and do, the exact same thing every morning and everyday. Now, their breakfast might change but their lives don’t and we may not realize that our life is on autopilot and very representative of this described breakfast. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not bashing structure or continuity. What I am suggesting is that sometimes we forget to look at our path and journey and break the breakfast cycle our lives have taken. We just consume what is there in front of us because it is in front of us. We are busy thinking of other things that we might not see the obvious, a pattern in front of us.
If I was here one more night (because I just finished my fourth straight breakfast here), I would have gone to the shop and bought a spicy sauce and placed it in there to see what happens. Change is a difficult thing for some and organizations. Either the sauce would be removed right away because it does not fit in to the daily routine and we have always done it this way without the sauce, or it would remain but only for a short while because people would use it and once it is finished, it would never reappear because it was never part of the process and no one would go out and buy a new bottle, or someone would see it as a bit of a change, take the initiative and start buying it or tell the owners that next order, include a bit of this spicy sauce because people love it.
Perhaps this sauce revolt might cause them to decide to change up the cheeses and meat tray, or let’s get a couple of other types of cereal, or can we offer brown toast? Just something to break up the routine and consistency. Breakfast would still be relatively the same but with a twist. Now I get that by keeping it simple, there is a cost reduction issue and there is the bottom line. No need to break the bank by adding a slight change to the order with your distributor.
We need breakfast and we need variety. Change does not have to be drastic where you throw your system entirely out of whack and make things complicated but subtle changes can change the atmosphere of the organization…or in this case breakfast. We are hungry for breakfast so we consume it, we are hungry for life and ‘do’ but can your life be spiced up? Find your virtual sauce and try a little change and see what happens. You just might change more small things in your life.
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