Are You Sabotaging Your Own Success?

Restaurant Team

Things are going great for your restaurant. Then something bad happens. Maybe a one-star review on Yelp. Then your chef walks out. Then another thing. And another.  Now you’re stuck. It seems like no matter what you do, you just cannot seem to get out of this funk. You are in quicksand, and the more you fight, the more you sink.

Don’t worry. This, too, shall pass. It’s a quite common scenario, in fact. The main reasons this happens:

1.    You have the wrong mindset.
2.    You are focused on the wrong things.

Mindset is Everything

Here is a simple question: Do you expect to be successful or do you hope to be successful?

Knowing and hoping are two different mindsets. Having confidence (and knowing) is a strong emotion that can help carry you through troubled times. Hope is more like a beggar.

In 1964, Victor H. Vroom from the Yale School of Management studied the motivations behind decision-making and came up with what is known as Expectancy Theory. Basically, expectancy is the belief of one’s efforts will result in the attainment of the desired goal.

To better understand this theory, we must take into account the three components.

1.    Self-efficacy: Remember the question above.  Do you expect to be successful or do you hope to be successful? Winners expect to reach their goal.

2.    Goal difficulty: When goals are set too high or performance expectations are too challenging, this will lead to low expectations.

3.    Perceived control: This variable was brought to light back in the 1950s by Julian Rotter in a theory called Locus of Control. If you have an internal locus of control, you believe that you influence events and outcomes. On the other hand, if you have an external locus of control, you blame outside forces for everything that happens.

So how do you get out of the rut of a poor mindset? It takes time, energy, and effort to rise above a negative situation. So be patient. Set yourself up for small successes. In the war with your subconscious, it’s better to win the small battles, then try to banish negativity in a single assault.

Set Yourself Up to Win


Play to Your Strengths. You will only excel when you play to your natural strengths. If you do not like spreadsheets and accounting, doing them yourself is a poor use of your strengths. Besides, if you’re not very good at it what are the chances that the information is correct? This is for the restaurant owner who thinks they know how to cost out their menu and come up with a theoretical cost of 21%, when after further analysis reveals a food cost more toward the 42% mark.

Running a restaurant is a lot like playing chess. Each piece in the game has its strengths. Your job is to move each piece into a position where its natural strengths can become an asset.

Enter the Mentor. If the owner and manager have influence over the staff and the staff has influence over the guest experience, who has influence over the owner and manager? Enter the mentor.

Even ultra-successful entrepreneurs like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg have used a mentor (his was Steve Jobs). Mentorship allows you to tap into the experience of another beyond your own restaurant. Einstein was famous for saying that a problem cannot be solved on the level it was created. It’s true. Sometimes having a mentor can give you fresh eyes through which to look at a problem.

What You Focus on Becomes Reality. No, this is not praise for the book, The Secret. However, it is true that where you place your focus, your energy will follow. Ever read an article about work-life balance? Well, that’s a myth! If you work in the restaurant industry, it’s like the elusive creature Bigfoot. We all want to believe it’s real.

Life is never ever really in balance. When you focus on an area, things tend to improve in that area. Focus on your relationship, and it tends to become better. Focus on marketing, and sales tend to increase. The real trick is to balance the time you focus on each area. That’s the real balance. They say time is money. No, money is money. The real currency with time is where you place your attention. In today’s hyper-distracted world, those who can control their focus have real power.

Manage Your Calendar. Open your calendar. Most people have a few appointments on there, and that’s about it. Your calendar is probably one of the most underutilized focus tools you have available. All that blank area between appointments is called white space. For the ultra-productive and successful, white space is the enemy.

If you do not control your time and focus, someone else will control it for you. You need to schedule as much as you can into your calendar. The gym, social media time, date nights, training with staff, lunch service, pre-shift, dinner service, marketing, R&D... everything. Use your calendar as the gatekeeper of your time.

The best tip to avoid becoming overwhelmed and over committed is learning this one simple word: no. If you had a very important business meeting on Tuesday at 3 p.m. and someone else asked to meet with you at that same time, you would have no problem telling them you had another obligation. Use that same mindset for every appointment on your calendar. If you schedule 45 minutes to work on marketing for your business, don’t blow it off or cancel it. Treat each appointment on your calendar with the mindset that it’s the most important business meeting you will attend.

Be a Real Leader. Sometimes you need to know that you are the chokehold on your business growth. Culture does flow from the owners/leaders down to the team. Your attitude and behavior is a direct impact on your team. It’s a cycle known as The Betari Box.

Betari Box

It shows a correlation of how attitude and behavior go hand in hand. Our behavior is a mirror of our attitudes, which, in turn, affects the behavior of others. It becomes a circle of cause and effect. The way you act (your attitude) affects your behavior, which has an impact on others’ attitudes, which has an impact on their behavior, which has an impact on your attitude.

So how do you stop the circle? Quite simple, make sure your attitude is in check. If you think having little nicknames for your team is not affecting performance, you’re wrong. Even if you don’t tell them to their face the name you have for them, it has an impact on your attitude. That attitude will come through in your behavior and your nonverbal communication (which is 55%).

Being a real leader is about being a professional. That means your thoughts and actions act as one. Being in congruency with your core values and acting with integrity are nonnegotiable leadership characteristics. Leadership is not something you can fake. Real leaders channel inner strength and confidence that come through in their actions.

Remember this: Talent and skill can take you to the top; however, it’s your character and mindset that keep you there.