July 2, 2016
Flash of Silver the leap that changed my world
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?
It 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 A Tear