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astute solutions

Transition Training & Management Coaching


Unlocking potential – Discovering solutions

Each day, if we quieten our minds, listen carefully and watch closely, life teaches us invaluable lessons allowing us to unlock our potential and discover solutions.  I was taught just such a lesson a few years ago by Mary.

I met Mary at 08:43 am one morning late in January a few years ago while waiting in the reception area of a pleasant four star hotel.

I floated aimlessly into Mary’s little kiosk shop in the foyer of the hotel and casually glanced at trinkets, scarves and bags which I had no intention of buying.  She greeted me politely and asked if she could help me with anything.  “No thanks, I’m just looking” I replied as I continued my drive-by viewing of tie pins, wallets and cigar sets.  It wasn’t long before my eye was caught by a dozen packets of Zimbabwean coffee in a cane display basket on the floor.  I approached Mary to enquire about the price and, half-jokingly, asked if I could taste some before buying, indicating that as a connoisseur, I would only buy her product if it compares favourably with, in my opinion, the best coffee in the world – Vietnamese coffee (Weasel, Culi or Sé).


Mary asked me to wait just a minute while she phoned her manager with my request.  Amazingly, she was allowed to open a packet and allocate the cost to “Marketing”.  To my utter disbelief, she then asked if I would look after her kiosk for a few minutes and disappeared into the hotel’s kitchen area.  A while later my coffee was served - a four cup percolator on a tray with tray cloth, two cups, saucers and spoons, sugar, warm and cold milk, 6 biscuits presented on a frilly paper serviette and a small decorative vase of fresh flowers.


Wow!  Now that's service, and since that chance encounter a few years ago, I have used Mary as a yardstick against which to measure the quality of my efforts when doing what I do in serving others.