The only thing certain for restaurant operators right now is uncertainty.  And while staying safe and healthy through all of this is of absolute importance, I am certain that most restaurant operators are also focused on doing whatever they can to ensure they survive the economic hit of this crisis.  For the purposes of this discussion, let’s assume that yours will be an operation that survives.  Stay positive about the future and focus your mindset.

One thing that is all about you

Let’s talk, just for a moment, about staying positive.  This is important.  If staying positive is challenging you right now, there are things you can do about it.  Staying positive is one thing that is all about you. Working on yourself and control of your mindset are essential for anyone in a leadership role.  Airlines always instruct that in a crisis, you should secure your own oxygen mask before attempting to help someone else.  This is true about your mental strength, too.  You can’t lead others positively if you’re not thinking positively to begin with.

I won’t spend a lot of time on this, but a great way to feed your positive mindset is by exercising first thing in the morning.  Being physically strong is the first step to feeling mentally strong.  And there are several great side effects of this that will continually feed your positive energy throughout your day and week.  Higher energy levels and improved mood might be obvious benefits and directly impact a positive mindset.  Where it can directly impact your work day, is that in addition to helping create routine, it will both release and help you to manage stress.  It will also improve balance of and your quality of life.  To quote comedian Dana Carvey, “these days you have to take care of yourself because science won’t let you die”.  Exercise may not extend your life, but it will certainly improve your quality of life.

Achievement Mindset

Now that we’ve established the importance of control of your mindset, let’s talk about controlling your future.  Surviving is not the same as thriving.  Whether you thrive as you move forward, to a great extent, is up to you.  Will you quickly settle back into the same routines and ways of doing things, or in some cases not doing things, that were your way of restaurant life before?  Or will you look to learn and grow, by examining the very culture, intention, mindset and language that will take you into a thriving future?

Don’t Take This Lying Down!

Are you ready to get into an achievement state of mind?  The current situation that COVID-19 has left you, your restaurant and the industry in is potentially devastating.  So, are you going to take it lying down?  Many years ago, when I was in my first senior management role in a large restaurant, I was having a really tough month, and was venting on a colleague, when he responded with a question that became the beginning of my solving every big challenge that I’ve encountered since:  “So, are you going to take it lying down?”

This question should be a quick reminder when challenged, every single time, that you can always take action to improve yourself and your situation, tackle the challenge and achieve more than you have in the past.  You need to be bold and stand up to the challenge, and it starts with getting into that mindset.  Get into the mindset of readiness to operate at the highest level.

Time to take stock

There has never been a more important time to be honest with yourself about how you operate and to address what you need to do to move forward.  You take stock of your inventory every week and month like clockwork, but how often do you take stock of yourself, your team and of the very fabric of how you do business?

It’s no secret that mediocrity has run rampant in the restaurant industry for decades.  Please don’t misunderstand me – there are excellent and key players on every restaurant’s team, but are excellence and effort toward growth the norm and the expectation set out by the leadership in most restaurants?  Is effort toward excellence and growth the expectation set out by the leadership in your restaurant?

A committed, driven, principled, employee with a positive mindset will be excellent no matter where they work.  The big question is how many members of your team have the potential to reach excellence had they encountered the right training and leadership?  How strong has your commitment been over the years to mentoring those in your purview?

Set the expectation and opportunity to succeed

Provided you hire the right people for the right jobs and provided they have the right mindset, you have the ability to set an expectation of excellence for your team members right from the day they’re hired.  You’ll have the same opportunity with existing employees once you step up operations after survival of this crisis, but it’s not enough.  Once you set the expectation, you then have to then give them the opportunity to grow and succeed.  In other words, rather than making your staff do their job, stand back and allow them to do great work.  Feed their future mindset for theirs and your success.

How you conduct yourself is important.  How you lead others is paramount.  One thing’s for sure:  how you lead is going to determine whether you merely survive this current crisis/challenge or emerge better, stronger, bolder and thrive.