It was my birthday on June 5th. I had a wonderful day. Can I tell you why? I listened to my gut.
Do you do this enough?
I have been doing this more and more in my life of late and you know what? It's awesome. Truly. When I wasn't doing this, I was frequently anxious, depressed, sad, angry and I felt like a victim far too often. It was no way to go through life. Hardly a Savored Existence.
The most important part of being a health coach, for me, is to walk the talk. I learned the art of this teaching 8th grade---8th graders smell a phony at 10 feet. You don't wanna mess with them if you aren't going to be an authentic, honest person. From these fine young folks, I learned to show up and be myself--professional but warm and approachable.
So here's the scene for my birthday: my wonderful girlfriend had planned to take me out to the North End in Boston for dinner. We ended up in the entry of this upscale establishment. The host and hostess were dressed nicely but the young woman had a sour look on her face. First sign that something wasn't right.
Because it was such a nice day, my girlfriend immediately asked if we could be placed by the open windows. Sour look #2 from the hostess and attitude-laced comment, "yeah, sure. Whatever," as she grabbed two menus and walked us around the bar and sat us. No "enjoy your meal". No "thanks for dining with us". Nothing.
I opened the menu with a bad feeling crawling in my gut and read my options. I had mentally prepared for simple, authentic Italian food, but the chef of this establishment was reaching for loftier goals with the cuisine. It had ingredients that sounded tasty but weren't what I wanted. I expressed this to my girlfriend. To my right was a placard advertising all the other establishments owned by the restauranteur. It felt tacky and arrogant. Second sign that something wasn't right. This guy cared more about showing off than providing good customer service via his staff.
I wanted to leave. I felt like I should stay because they had already served us water. My girlfriend said about 6 times in a row, "we can leave". I sat. I felt paralyzed.
CUE the limiting thoughts:
I have to be polite (even though they hadn't been). I have to stay there and choose something to eat (when though it wasn't what I wanted to eat). I have to make the best of it (even though it was my birthday and I deserved the best experience possible). I don't want to hurt my girlfriend's feelings (even though she had laughed about it, said it was ok and had encouraged me to stand up so we could leave 6 times in 45 seconds).
Funny how we do this to ourselves, huh?
I looked at her smile. I listened to her words. I listened to my gut that said, "you don't have to eat here if it's not what you want". I stood up and followed her out the door. As we walked out, I turned to the host and hostess and said, "thank you, we've changed our mind." They grunted.
We walked across the street into a different restaurant, Fiore, and received a warm greeting from the woman by the door--like we were family! She was warm, authentic and upon hearing the reason for our visit, said, "HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Let's get you on the roofdeck--it's so nice today." As we sat down, I literally felt the tension in my gut replaced with a warm feeling of contentment.
Can you believe they sent over a waiter named Nick who had the same birthday as me?! What a charming touch! He was friendly, cordial and had great eye-contact.
Warm, generous, down-to-earth customer service. A sunny, breezy day. My loving partner beside me. The food was fresh, tasty and simple. Nothing fancy. Authentic and delicious.
It was a dining event to remember forever and it was only possible because I said, "it's my birthday and I'll eat where I WANT TO."