In life, every once in a while we will face pitfalls, challenges, even brutal loss. How we pick ourselves up and move forward need not define us. But simply show a tenacity and willingness to accept both the storms and the calm.
It is okay to allow ourselves to feel pain and disappointment. Moving forward, though, is equally important. It can often also be an opportunity to rediscover ourselves, our strength and reinvent the immediate future.
We’ve all been told at one time or another to be “masters of one” and not “Jack of all”. It is good advice to begin with, I’m sure, especially for those of us who find it difficult to focus.
But as I grew into the world of beverages I began to appreciate Jack more and more. He was much misunderstood. And we can be masters of more than one if we have curiosity, passion and conviction. In fact, “the one” itself may help you to become good at other things simply by looking at it from more than one angle.
Confused? When I look back I realize it has been one long story of reinvention, even though at the time I didn’t look at it like that at all. I began by striving to be a vet, and got derailed by allergies and the family doctor.
That took me to “catering college” and a burning desire to master the Chinese kitchen. That was destroyed by indifferent HR heads and chefs. It pushed me to a standalone restaurant and the bar. The beginning of a brand new mission, road to discovery and a career!
Other diversions and roadblocks along the way taught me to write about the only subject I knew reasonably well: bartending, and the world of beverages, and people’s perspective of it. It pushed me to put together and publish a book on cocktails.
As a result it came upon me that there still wasn’t any school of bartending in India, and that I should share all the knowledge I had gathered with those aspiring to specialise in beverages. That brought me to opening STIR Academy of Bartending after due research and experiments.
It has encouraged me to assist hotels and restaurants upgrade their bars and offerings. I learnt how to design modular bars, layouts and mathematical aspects I’d never imagined I’d understand! It also taught me to look at everything from the guest’s perspective. So, my menu listing became more user-friendly and accessible.
The ride then took me to plan consumer master classes, brand strategy and launch, brand education, category education, signature serves and cocktails, event bartending up to 5,000 people.
I was able to conceptualise and host a TV show on beverages – In High Spirits – which was hugely popular. I saw the opportunity and pushed myself to succeed by believing I could do it and having the drive to challenge myself.
We are all capable of it. We simply need to like what we do, build our knowledge, and then believe implicitly in ourselves and our ability.
Failure and disappointments teach us even more, and I’ve had my fair share of those too. The thing to keep in mind in these times is to analyse your mistakes, find solutions and move forward.
As human beings we have a tendency to dwell on problems and wallow in self-pity. Precious time can be lost if that continues. Instead, use it to plan what’s next and work towards it.
Keep an open mind. Use your education and resources in any direction that gives you a sense of purpose. I worked in advertising for two years on a break from F&B! It taught me to look at life from a completely new angle and gave me great insights and tremendous learning.
I marketed educational books for children and finally even conducted train-the-trainer programmes for young recruits. That taught me patience and mind games, and the importance of listening and human behaviour. Having an ego only hinders progress, whereas an open mind allows you the freedom of endless possibilities.
The last few months have been trying for most, impossible for some. The fact that we don’t quite know how it will evolve this year doesn’t help any. It is, therefore, quite natural to feel anxiety towards an uncertain future. But allowing it to overwhelm and then engulf us is what we need to prevent.
Accept that a crisis exists, but instead of looking at with impending gloom, let’s treat it as a challenge and turn this time we have into an opportunity. If one window shuts another has to open. Else, you have to open it yourself!
Learn new things. Stuff that you’ve been interested in but didn’t have the time – a new language, play the guitar, singing, baking, cooking, the Rubic cube, chess…
Our brain is a brilliant machine, with never-ending storage and a constantly updating RAM. The more you do the more it will work for you. Be open to a new job, new learning. Rediscover, rejuvenate, reinvent.
I began by wanting to heal animals and went on to heal animals of the human kind! I did. You can too. This time you are the forgotten cocktail that you are recreating for today’s environment. With a dash of homemade bitters!