Leave Employed or Leave Empowered?
Recently when travelling to Cincinnati, two things happened that would shape the rest of the day. They were so impactful that I am still talking about it. Let me talk about the second part first.
Part Two of My Morning
I went into a local restaurant for breakfast and everything on their menu was very fancy. As I wasn’t very hungry that morning, I requested my server, Anna, a sixteen-year-old kid, if I could get just one egg, a single slice of toast and some coffee. She asked me if that was all I wanted, to which I responded with a “Yes Ma’am”. She brought me my simple breakfast. Her energy and enthusiasm were positively contagious.
I worked on my laptop, got a few emails done and then requested my check. Anna looked at me and said, “That’s on me”. “What do you mean it’s on you?”, I asked. Anna said, “You did not order enough food for me to charge you”. What baffled me was that this sixteen-year-old felt empowered enough to make that decision right there, without even having to talk to the manager or anybody else.
I gave her a $20 tip. With a big smile on her face she said, “You’ve made my day!” and in my mind I thought, “No girl, you made my day”.
But my morning did not start that way. Little did she know that I needed her to reverse what had happened just before that.
Part One of My Morning
I was staying at a National Hotel chain. In the mornings, I am usually in autopilot mode. I shower, grab a towel with my eyes nearly closed, put the towel on my face and start wiping myself. That is my everyday routine. But that day, something stopped me. Through my peripheral vision I saw something on the towel which freaked me out. I held the towel back and saw that it had dried blood stains on it. You read right, dried blood. Bodily fluids freak me out. I threw the towel to the ground. I looked at the other towels with suspicion and caution. They had come with this towel, so they were all accomplices and could be contaminated. I took a picture of the towel on the floor before I left the room in a hurry.
I rushed to the front desk and told Jenny, the attendant, of the ordeal I had been through. She responded with two words which freaked me out further. She said, “Oh. Okay.” I stood there baffled. When she realized that I wasn’t going to leave, she added, “Sorry that happened to you”, rather nonchalantly.
I needed a little more emotion. There was a crime scene in my room, a towel with blood on it was lying on the bathroom floor! Its accomplices were around it! The least she could have done was go up to the room and check; validate my emotions and make me feel like my concerns were recognized and appreciated. She didn’t.
As I reflected on both the events of that morning, I realized that things happen. In life, for situations and opportunities, we have two options.
- To leave ‘Employed’
- To leave ‘Empowered’
Anna chose the second option; she chose to leave empowered. She chose to leave as the boss, as the person who defined my life. I feel empowered because of her.
In the case of Jenny, she left employed. She didn’t do anything to get fired. She said ‘okay’ and ‘sorry’, and gave me the manager’s email. But my problem didn’t register with her, and she gave me the standard, default answer – Sorry.
This happens because of the culture that starts at the top in an organization. We create an organization where we tell a person what they will and will not do. We give them a ten step PowerPoint which tells them what a customer interaction must include. This creates an environment where the team member ends up feeling watched, monitored, and measured for efficiency, just numbers. In that particular environment, it’s a lot easier to leave employed than to leave empowered. This is the limiting factor in our life.
Why don’t we just empower every person, every day, to be effective and not efficient, connecting to every person every time. Let us ask how you can and will ‘Wow One More Person’, and that becomes very important in this journey. It is the wowing that defines relationships.
At the end, let us remember that for everything we do, we have two choices. You could only do the right thing and leave employed, or take a little risk and go on an unchartered path and leave empowered. Brand connections, relationships, and even everyday life happens when we leave empowered.