No place to go but…up?

Jul 01, 2016

No place to go but…up?


July 2, 2016

Flash of Silver the leap that changed my world

Question #29
Rite of Passage Ten –The Ocean’s Beckon–
1957 to 1958 -I am twenty three to twenty seven years old

The first ‘leap’ forward is called a BIG BREAK! Did you have one that advanced you well ahead of your peers? Was there a difficult consequence?

Last week I skipped briefly over my early days working with my parents in their small hotel in Kent.

This time I will go deeper into the BIG BREAK that occurred when my very practiced and professional dad got his ‘big break’ by being asked to take over one of the world’s most beautiful ‘boutique’ hotels –Gravetye Manor , near East Grinstead in Sussex UK.

His appointment was as unexpected as it was sudden and left me, as his Assistant Manager, in temporary charge of a busy Four Star Hotel…The Royal Ascot.

Then came the scheduled meeting with the owner, Alexander Taylor –another practiced professional hotel man but more behind the scenes than my dad and myself.

I was asked if I would fill my dad’s shoes and, with Treena, take over as General Managers!

We were just 25 years old and married for three years. I had grown up in the hotel business but Treena was almost completely ‘new’.

I protested, at the time, that I and we, had so little experience, that it seemed…unwise?

Taylor insisted that this would be the kind of start that I would need in order to reach my goal as Managing Director of the Dorchester Hotel in London. I had shared that ambition with Taylor and my goal had become his!

We all tried really hard to make it work but really it was doomed to failure from the first day.

I didn’t climb any of the normal rungs of the ladder to senior management I was simply hung out to dry with no rungs beneath me –really, no place to go but up…eventually?

So…what about now?

BIG BREAKS make great stories when following up by hard work and good ‘luck’?

Mine allowed me to understand that long lasting success involves a practiced professionalism over a consistent number of years. It’s called ‘experience’ and without it one is often ‘flying by the seat of one’s pants’. This was what happened to us…and unfortunately our large staff knew it!

Today there are numerous examples of really young people who have ‘made it’ by hitching their breakthrough ‘ideas’ to brand new technology. Their one bright concept needed to be ‘helmed’ by a bright new Captain of eCommerce who, by the way, had practiced professionals behind the scenes who often kept the ‘business’ afloat?

Treena_Kerr_pregnant-with_child_#_2It was a great learning experience for me but it came complete with the tragic loss of our second child at 7½ months because of the exhaustion that comes from trying to survive by giving the job everything we thought we had.

My advice these days…climb the rungs, prove to yourself that you can be diligent, don’t take on more than you are able and always, always, leave enough time to celebrate your very private and personal life.

When I said, “Yes” to Taylor and became a General Manager of a Four Star Hotel at 25 I wasn’t a success…I had become a slave with no place to go but up…eventually?

This week I read Treena’s poem  Tear


  1. Jean N. Sozio Says: 11:18 pm

    RE: Lynn’s mention of “senior” – experience looks like a piece of cake to those newly coming into the workforce – and being “in charge” not so really. I had gotten my first supporting job by sheer ambition alone. I was being interviewed for one job but tested for something totally unrelated. While I knew I was suitable for the first I was totally inept for the second. I insisted I be considered for the first as was promised – and so – I was hired. I spent many years with that company learning, progressing, and climbing to eventually a level of recognition and respect. At one point only three years into the job I was offered the opportunity to go to Management school. This was a HUGE step up – “BUT ! I knew that with the perks also came snares – snares I would be committed to for a very long term career. This was not my ambition and so I refused – much to the disappointment of my husband. I settled in where I was comfortable and thus worked very hard for many years – but I never regretted saying “no” to what I knew I could not commit without giving up so much more – time with my spouse and our future home life.

  2. Lynn Says: 10:10 pm

    Looking back at all those rungs, I remember each was a terrific challenge that I could not accomplish alone. First there were the prayers, so many times mentioning I couldn’t handle anymore….then the ladder was stabilized and I was assisted by family, friends and peers to the next rung. Now retired, I look for opportunities to help others and give gentle pushes up their rungs.

  3. Lynn Severance Says: 10:49 pm

    Some of us are no longer “climbing rungs” as is the case of those beginning their careers and having aspirations of goals to be met. Garnering experience, as Graham stated, building deliberately, taking time to find balance in one’s private life, listening carefully for God’s starts and stops will be valuable time spent to reach said goals.

    For we who are senior, the same exhortation is also applicable as we seek to serve in new ways where we are called. Hopefully our experience from years past will help us also listen and be guided well.

  4. Ira Says: 8:59 am

    My oldest son spent many evenings of his early years in the back of the kitchen at my restaurant. Although the foodservice industry in general has been trying for my family (long hours, lower pay, etc.), he loved being able to hang out with his dad in the kitchen in the evenings, and grew up with a healthy respect of working for what you do because of it.

  5. karl Says: 5:11 am

    Unfortunatley the hotel and food service business is a very demanding and incredibly unforgiving business.The hours a excruciating and many fall victim to over extending themselves.
    Family fall apart, alcohol,drugs and lust often become the escape valve to cope with the pressure.I may not have fallen deeply into this trap over the years,mostly because of the grace of God,but I certainly have scars.They break open at times and i pray often to be free from the “Thorn of the Flesh” and will probably have to deal with it until I reach the other shore.I have come to realize that we do not have the power within our selves to overcome that which tortures us, but have to let go and allow Christ to work His way.I am so frustrated at times with my repeated failures and know that within me is no good thing.This is not self loathing,its just the realization of who I am.A sinner loved with the everlasting love of God and He is not finished with me

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