Contact theSOPAbout theSOPSupport theSOPWritersEditorsManaging Editors
theSOP logo
Published:November 22nd, 2005 06:31 EST
DON'T OPEN THAT DOOR - YET

DON'T OPEN THAT DOOR - YET

By Terry Sumerlin (Mentor/Columnist)

Every day, several times a day, I saw the same sign.  It was taped on the inside of the door, leading from crew quarters to passenger staterooms.  As a guest lecturer aboard the Coral Princess, bound for Panama, I was considered part of the crew.  I was one of those to whom the sign applied.  It simply said:  “Please remember that you are about to enter a passenger area.”

I’ve never had opportunity to find out specifically what the cruise line had in mind with those words.  But, I think I can make some close guesses.  And, I think these guesses are generally applicable as we step from our private world into any business setting.

First of all, the sign reinforces the fundamental human relations principle that author John Maxwell states so well:  “The entire population of the world – with one minor exception – is composed of others.”  If, when away from passengers (customers), and alone, one wants to think only of self, that’s one thing.  Yet, on the other side of the door are “others” – business.  To the degree that we remember that, we can effectively compete in the marketplace.  When we forget, we place ourselves at a distinct disadvantage.

Secondly, the sign implies a bit of role playing.  Inside the crew quarters, within reason, the crew can talk like, dress like and act like they wish.  That is not an acceptable approach when one enters the “passenger area.”  Furthermore, even if one doesn’t feel like it, he/she is to put on a smile and have a pleasant greeting for everyone - on the other side of the door.  Outside that door, one is to look and act professionally, even if inwardly experiencing a bad day.

If all this, for the sake of business, seems a bit phony, maybe we should remember:  A pleasant disposition, that maybe we don’t feel, beats a sincere scowl - every time.  And, while our personal problems may at times be serious, they are seldom of interest to others.

Lastly, on the other side of the door is opportunity and adventure.  Not only is a cruise ship a type of magic carpet that can take one anywhere in the world.  It also exposes one to people from different places and cultures.  They have different backgrounds, as well as unique stories to tell.  And, as their speaker, some have even inspired me more than I’ve inspired them.

Yet, adventure, opportunity and surprise are true of all businesses.  At J.B.’s Barber Barber Shop a rancher once brought in a full-grown llama; a priest brought in a sack full of hair pieces to be groomed; and a fellow who got a haircut and beard trim brought in, by design, only fifty cents.

As we enter the “passenger area,” no telling what we might encounter. 

BARBER-OSOPHY:  A smart business person thinks before opening the door, and is prepared for what he might find on the other side.