Don’t Get Between Me & My Eclairs - Proteus Leadership
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Don’t Get Between Me & My Eclairs

I had woken early on a Saturday morning and was in good spirits because I was about to spend a week at the beach recuperating from a very hectic time at work.

Before leaving for the coast I needed to visit a local shopping complex to stock up on provisions of fattening, but delightful treats.

Unfortunately it was too early to go directly to the shopping complex so I decided to stop off at a local breakfast haunt to fuel my body with a latte, eggs and bacon, toast and anything else I could get my hands on.

On my arrival I was surprised to find that my favourite little café now had new owners.

“Can I get ya somethin’?” was the sound I heard shriek across the restaurant floor.

Immediately my defenses went up and I wanted to say, “Yes, some service would be good”.

As I turned to see what had shrieked at me I saw a woman dressed in black and bright red hair sticking up in the air.

She was leaning against the counter with her hands on her hips and a pencil behind her ear, ready for action.

One of my pet hates is receiving bad service.

You know it is actually harder to give bad service than to be pleasant, but unfortunately in Australia we seem to have created a service industry without service.

“I’ll have a latte, thanks” I said. “What sort?” she shrieked.

By this time I had processed the situation and formed an inappropriate response. I decided that I did not like her and that this restaurant had gone downhill.

I also decided that she was treating me with contempt, that I bet they burn their toast, that all red cars are for people having a midlife crisis and that every other thing related to injustice was occurring right at this moment. In other words I totally overreacted!

It is precisely at times like this when we make the decision as to whether or not we look at the situation through Life Eyes, or react.

As she walked over to the table I decided to engage her in small talk and ask her about the new ownership and a few other seemingly trivial issues. It was then that I discovered that she wasn’t trying to be rude. She was actually trying too hard to be friendly and cool.

By the time I left the restaurant you would have thought that we were best friends and had known each other for years. There was no excuse for her behaviour.

However there was absolutely no reason for me to move to her level by reacting badly, but rather through Life Eyes, I could assist her in raining in her level of service and communication.

You see, normally I would have attacked and told her that her attitude was bad and it was disappointing that my favourite breakfast place had gone downhill so quickly.

Life Eyes allowed me to see that she had just opened the business and was incredibly nervous and was trying too hard to establish a relationship with her new clients.

After a delicious breakfast I ventured to the shopping complex in search of holiday treats.

I was aware that they would probably not last the journey and for health reasons would have to be eaten almost immediately, but I was on holidays, so stuff the ‘right thing’.

Eventually I found heaven, a cake shop with almost every gastronomic delight you could possibly imagine.

I was approximately one metre away from the glass cabinet making my executive decision when an elderly man pushed in front of me knocking me sideways, but more importantly blocking my view.

“Can I help anyone?” said the shop assistant. “Yes, I’m next” said the elderly gentleman and slammed a docket onto the counter.

I wanted to say, “You rude old man, wait your turn” but then I remembered that this was a Life Eyes day and so I took a step back and allowed him to be served.

A second shop assistant arrived with a large cake box and as she opened it the three of them became very excited. The elderly man began to shake as he viewed the contents of the box.

As he walked away from the shop with his cake it was obvious that he had become very emotional. What had just happened was an experience that I could have ruined.

I approached the counter and the assistant told me that it was his fiftieth wedding anniversary.

He absolutely adored his wife and wanted a very special cake with a message on it to tell her how much he loved her.

Through Life Eyes I saw what really happened. This was not a rude old man, but an excited old man who was overcome with love and emotion and had no idea that he had pushed between me and my chocolate eclairs.

I’m not sure what I would have done if he had taken the last two chocolate eclairs. A hungry man can only take so much!

I probably would have been understanding and gracious, and then mugged him in the car park. Just joking!

These types of situations occur many times on a daily basis. How do you respond to them?

So often we react to what we think is happening rather than step back and allow the real experience to evolve.

This does not mean that we let people walk all over us and just take the rudeness that some people dish out, but it does mean that before we act we need to see what is really happening and what the motives are behind a person’s comments or actions.

This will allow us to handle situations far more effectively and with less longterm damage.

Even with our natural eyes we will see nothing unless we open them. Our Life Eyes are exactly the same.

From Des Penny’s book Life Eyes.
Des Penny is the CEO and Founder of Proteus Enterprises Pty Ltd.


Proteus Leadership is one of Australia’s premier leadership training and development companies. Proteus Leadership provides leadership courses and management training to a range of industries and assists organisations to build positive workplace cultures, implement change and Create Great Leaders. Proteus also facilitates a range of world-class management courses, workshops, conferences and events across Australia and beyond with the sole purpose of bringing leaders together to connect and grow.

“Our core purpose is to Create Great Leaders that will in turn build Great companies and develop Great teams.”

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