This week, I met with a well-known bartender (at least in the bartending community,) a high-ranking person in the industry, with a significant role and impressive achievements by all accounts. I allow myself to assume that he (or she ) could easily work in any bar they wanted to. An owner would give anything to have such a professional on their bartending team, why this pompous introduction? Because half an hour into our conversation, he said the following depressing sentence:
“Our industry is toxic. In other industries there isn’t so much ego.
This sentence was said in the context of a bad experience he had, around an event that included the cooperation of many colleagues. Of course, the obfuscation of the details is intended to maintain anonymity.
I don’t know other industries, but I do know people and the ego thing is definitely not something to sweep under the rug.
On the surface there’s a respectful and perfectly reasonable collegial discourse. If it’s in dedicated WhatsApp group, mutual help in times of crisis, and “political” cheering in public, but it’s impossible not to feel that under the surface, things are not like that. Quite a few rivalries arise between individuals, between businesses, and even between agendas, it’s not clear where they stem from and what they promote.
Ego brings with it a big obstacle, on the border of the impassable, as far as development is concerned. Clichéd as it may sound the bar world in all its derivatives, is a world of vast content, constantly evolving, containing enormous amounts of information and opportunities. When the ego occupies too large a part in a person’s professional world, it prevents them from improving. When the energy invested in the direction of the ego and its derivatives, whether it’s overcomparison, overt/hidden jealousy, or just competitiveness that’s lost proportion, it’s easy to lose track of our development.
There’s no doubt, ego exists in each and every one of us, and occupies a prominent place in our being, who’s more and who’s less. I refer to the point where it gets overweight, and starts managing us. It happens to a new bartender, as it does to a experienced owner. No one is immune to it’s negative effects when it becomes excessively dominant. If I had to bet, each of the people who suddenly find themselves in the middle of life pouring a drink or two for a living, at one point or another deal with this complex issue. The non-stop interaction with people receiving service, the bartender-customer interactions, the interactions within the team, employee-owner relationships, business partnerships – usually of 3-4 partners or more, all this in a very competitive environment, and of course – in an alcoholic environment (releases barriers ), all of these create a world where we feed on creativity, hard work, and the love of the customer, while at the same time fighting the built-in “underrated” feeling that this position gives rise to.
I write these things, because I have worn each of the hats in my 18 years of accumulated experience as a bartender, manager, guide, owner, colleague, partner, competitor and entrepreneur… In each role, I have had to deal with Ego, others’ and my own.
Let’s go back to the first paragraph, my heart goes out to the colleague and friend who felt that the industry was toxic towards him, in many ways I am writing this (specific) blog for them so that they knew, and that everyone knew, regardless of the reality, the title, the success, the image, the experience, at the end of the day, our inner world and not the external, is what determines what we feel. When the ego floats and sprinkles salt on wounds that have not yet healed, then all the jewelry in the will not help us feel beautiful or loved. The most important thing to remember from this “unintentionally metaphor-laden” post is that it’s in our control. Completely under our control.