I’ve been touring Australia for over 5 weeks and during this time have spoken at 12 events, travelled on 11 flights, stayed in 4 hotels and 2 wonderful homes, and have met hundreds of people from all walks of life and if I’ve learned, (relearned?), one thing it’s this: attitude is everything.
Take the flights I’ve flown: 2 x first class, 6 x business class and 3 x economy class; regardless of whether I’ve turned left or right on boarding, the experiences have varied hugely. I enjoyed one economy flight, from Melbourne to Sydney, more than one in first class from Abu Dhabi to Melbourne, not because it was 12 hours shorter, although that was a factor, but due to the attentiveness or lack of it, from the airline crew. Similarly hotels; the events team in Canberra couldn’t have done more for me whereas at one venue in Sydney every request fell on deaf ears. The disparity of experience wasn’t determined just by the overall flight/hotel either. At one hotel in Queensland the breakfast team couldn’t have been more miserable, whereas their colleagues running the water activities were a joy.
As I write this, travelling to Canada, one flight attendant has just offered me a bowl of mixed nuts which I declined as I’m allergic to almonds. Another, a few minutes later, asked if I’d been offered a snack and I explained my issue to which her response was, “we have packets of cashews separately from the almonds, would you like a bowl of these?” (I’m now munching on a second bowl as I type!). On one taxi journey from the centre of Sydney to the airport I discovered my seventy-three year old driver was Herbert Sutcliffe’s nephew, (Herbert was one of England’s finest opening batsmen), and my driver was no slouch himself having played over 100 first class games before an ankle injury forced retirement from the sport. We talked about cricket for almost an hour and it was one of the best rides I’ve ever had. By contrast, the driver this morning, on the exact same route, didn’t say a single word and just popped the boot lid when we pulled up at the airport terminal as he couldn’t be bothered to get out and help me with my bags.
Let’s get one thing straight, I know I’m describing “first-world issues”, this is not life or death, but many of the experiences I’ve had will dictate my future purchasing decisions. Perhaps more importantly is being reminded that secondary quality facilities can be forgiven/ignored/disregarded if first class service, and more to the point, first class attitude is delivered.
I notice that so many businesses seek a “silver bullet” something that will differentiate them from the competition and I now am convinced, more than ever, that the solution they crave is within their and your grasp – be nice, be positive, smile, engage fully, seek to do the best you can and be the best you can be. That’s it, and it’s positively easy too. I don’t buy that people are born with/out a positive attitude, it’s a choice and often requires effort, but what of the alternative, doesn’t that require effort too?
I’ve just had a conversation with the excellent member of the cabin crew, (Janie Houston of Air Canada), and she told me she’s been flying for 38 years. Her enthusiasm is remarkable, if this was her first flight I wouldn’t have been surprised, so I asked, “how do you keep being so positive?” And she replied, “energy, it takes less energy to be positive than to be negative, right?” I’ve heard many world-class speakers who I’ve shared the bill with on this tour, but Janie’s words are perhaps the most valuable – being positive is easier, so why do so many people choose to make the effort to be negative?