This week I inadvertently found myself in a foreign city with no place to lay my head for the night. As my usual resting places were full, I was able, by God’s grace to secure one of the last remaining rooms in one of the rare decent hotels still available; and I am glad I did. It was delightful, modern, no fuss, and everything worked. The previous night I had spent in a more high brow establishment but as to overall satisfaction and probability of return, no contest; hotel number two wins. But why?
Simple, they did not sweat the small stuff, and they give you what you need, not what enhances their standing. Why offer me slippers and a housecoat already worn by many and deny me complimentary water and tea which are vital to my wellbeing? Many frequent corporate travelers like myself are getting increasingly impatient with high end hotels charging steep rates and still proceeding to further extortion via the mini bar with its mini bottles of mediocre beverage and mini sachets of overly salty stuff, crowned with the blood letting fare for breakfast as they skin you for phone calls and internet access.
This second establishment, ostensibly a lowly three star concern had me pleasantly surprised to be housed in brand new 45m2 lodgings with elegant Nordic style wood furnishings, no upmarket restaurant, to be sure, but all inclusive of phone calls, internet access ( a long way from 20 euros an hour) a comfortable lounge to relax in and keep working even after checkout, access to unlimited snacks at no charge, a fridge well stocked with drinks and the like to which you can help yourself at will. Does it cost them that much? I doubt it.
Does it save me that much money? I doubt it. Afterall, two small bottles of water, a meager (of my own choosing) breakfast, five toffees, two apples make up the total count of my use of their culinary offering, all I am quite sure under ten euros, while yes, the room did not come cheap. But the goodwill generated by so little is priceless and has gained them a new client. Why? the lack of hoarding, the open access and the non insistence that every last paper napkin be put on the bill creates a sense of freedom and openness, a sense of ease and generosity.
I am a seasoned traveler and I know it is business, if it was not worth their while they would not do it. But that they would make available what they could have insisted on selling, like the others shows a different turn of mind. They are clever enough to know that it is worth their while whereas others are still trying to squeeze blood. In life we need to be clever enough to know that it is worth our while to give and not keep angling for all that we can get out of people. Creating an atmosphere of generosity over our lives is much more beneficial in the long run than extorting more, more and more.
Like those others, some of us employ ourselves at squeezing as much out of relationships as we can, every opportunity is pounced on to get others to do more, give me more, pray for me more, bless me more, call me more. Sometimes we are formidable record keepers, keeping very strict accounts of every relationship transaction, every cent of their attention is worth a cent of mine and no more? Not everything needs to be charged to people’s account, a call for a call, a smile for a smile, a visit for a visit, or else… How about us living in such a way that people feel they are getting out of relationship with us more than they put into it? How about living in such a way that the same investment in relationship derives greater returns from us than from others because we have decided not to sweat the small stuff?
And since we are on the small stuff, let’s get creative. How about the small acts of kindness, those things that surprise people because they are unexpected and lovely. Like the girl who takes their spiritual mother to lunch on mother’s day. Of course they had been given much, of far greater value certainly than the cost of the lunch, but they did not hold back what none would have begrudged them for not giving. It is those small things that cost little that often influence people’s perception of a relationship; the extra thirty minutes of work to help a colleague out; arriving 30 minutes earlier in church to make sure your entire department functions well, rather than rushing in last because your part of the work only takes you five minutes; the ten euros slipped into a brother’s pocket rather than spend it on yourself , the extra 15 minutes you refuse payment for on a 3 hour paid job.
Basically doing what we do not have to do, not charging for everything, financially or emotionally, giving without it being requested, offering assistance rather than waiting for the other side to seek help, generally making ourselves useful everywhere there is a need, keeping short accounts, forgiving without being asked, not sweating the small stuff; we create an atmosphere of freedom and openness over our lives and enjoy the fresh breeze of great favour.