My involvement with the industry came later than most, and is still significantly gentler than the champions owning, running, and working in venues every day, or travelling the world showcasing its wonder.
Recent years have seen some significant changes in my outlook as well, primarily through an increased focus on yoga, meditation and life balance.* As such, I have to confess that my initial response when working on my new project 'Happysense', alongside our work at 3rdparty, was to move further away from brands, bars, hotels and the like.
Two things however became ever clearer, save for the amazing opportunities this work presents on a number of levels. The innovation, inspiration and genuine community at the heart of the industry are what keeps me inspired and engaged by it. Furthermore, arguably no group of people could benefit more from some properly tailored, real-life wellness, and a culture with more focus on kindness.
Please take this as a toe in the water, and a platform to discuss these matters further, as well as committing to create increased communication and support for the common good. A curated approach to what we do and how, as well as accessible fitness, nutrition and mindfulness in person and online act as a toolkit we can dip in and out of to improve all of our lives.
I would stress as well that this isn’t esoteric, wooly thinking; there are very real, tangible benefits documented in such changes. Crucially as well, I’m not advocating any lack of accountability; rather an increased awareness of the necessity to care for ourselves and each other a little more.
Pretending this doesn't matter is irrational and irresponsible; beyond the evangelists for wellness and balance there are swathes of people waiting to engage, and discover its benefits.
WHY KINDNESS IS THE FUTURE.
Because it has to be.
Absenteeism, presenteeism, physical and mental health issues and people feeling compelled to leave both jobs and the industry as a whole are tangible, pressing issues. I suspect they always have been, but the good news is that we are becoming progressively more aware of their significance.
There is a moral obligation to to engage in such matters, save for the tangible practical benefits that having a healthier, happier industry obviously bring in terms of profits and productivity.
BEING KIND TO YOURSELF IS NOT THE SAME AS BEING SELFISH.
This is the truest truth in all of the words here, and simultaneously the hardest to remember in any meaningful way when it’s needed most.
In purely practical terms you can’t fill a glass from an empty vessel. To continue the glass analogy, whether you see it as half-full or half-empty, remember it’s refillable. If we can extend the same kindness to ourselves that we frequently (and rightly) show to others the change can be seismic.
You are magical, unique and wonderful. So is everyone else. You, and I will regularly forget this fact though. Practicing kindness when we hit bumps in the road can help immeasurably.
The elusive idea of life balance and the reality of our lives don’t on’t have to be divorced from each other; this is a wide and meandering road, not a tightrope. Fall out. Get back in. Repeat. Every second is a new beginning. Furthermore, there’s not wellness, work and the rest of your life in separate compartments. It’s all your life.
Inevitably we all have different personalities, and are going through different things in our lives at any given time. The simple acknowledgement of this can be significant in how we choose to deal with each other.
It’s not acceptable to burden others with our baggage, or expect them to endure poor conditions and a lack of support because that’s what happened years ago. Our stories and scars are badges of honour, and make us the perfect, broken versions of ourselves. That is all the more reason to advise, and help other people wherever possible, rather than perpetuate a cycle which is to everyone’s detriment.
Thanks to Simon Sinek and the like, we are more aware of the why of what we do. Crucially we can extend that to how we live.
‘I’ve been out for 9 days straight and my diet is 75% buckfast, 20% fags and 5% pot noodle.’ This is not a good thing. Stop the glorification of busy. This is true in business more than ever, and in the industry is can be compounded by long hours, and ready access to alcohol and more. Banding together for deadlines, ill staff and the like are vital, and laudable, and nights out can be truly magical things but the treadmill of rush and routine will take their toll.
In this and all else consistency trumps intensity. Try new things, and make small changes to your routine which fit with your life. Be it yoga, HIIT, cycling, swimming, walking or any other number of things, be curious and inspired. Remember as well that the person who goes to a class for the first time, nervous about wearing the wrong kit and what they can’t do is comfortably the baddest, most remarkable person there.
Continue to innovate; try, fail and succeed with passion, principle and good humour. Let’s evolve together, and make ugly and selfish behaviour the outliers they deserve to be.
The industry is evolving to become more ethical and sustainable; let’s apply that principled, progressive attitude to our single greatest asset, and most valuable ingredient- people. Sustain and nurture yourselves and the people around you, and see what happens.
Be part of a revolution; it will happen in spite of you, and it can happen because of you.
The Scottish influence extends well beyond our borders in hospitality, as in so much else. Both here and for the global community, a culture of kindness and empathy, fostering creativity and inclusivity we can be proud of is genuinely at hand.
I firmly believe that these changes will be positive, profound and permanent, and that there are no better people to create them than this remarkable community.
Tiny acts of kindness are revolutionary.
*AKA going ‘the full tantric Dougie’