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'Groundhog Day' isn't reality

Isn't it frustrating not knowing what is going to happen next -- mot knowing what is lurking around the next corner? If we could only know, then maybe we could plan better. We could prepare more thoroughly and then limit surprises that are sure to throw us off course.

On the other hand, maybe knowing what's next would be horrible. Remember Phil Connors, the TV weatherman played by Bill Murray in the '90s comedy "Groundhog Day?" Every morning he woke up, and the calendar said Feb. 2. The same thing happened day after day – same words spoken, same daily events and the same problems. It drove Murray to utter rage and suicidal despair -- until he realized that his actions had no consequences whatsoever. He could do whatever he wanted and know the next day, he could start fresh with a clean slate.

Unfortunately, reality lies somewhere in between. We don't know what lies ahead and though, we'd like to, we can't go back in time and have a "do over."

I still vividly remember the day my wife sternly told our 16-year-old son "Your procrastination does not make it an emergency for me." What great truth! Plan ahead and you will be more successful. It applies in every area of our lives - managing a restaurant, leading a team and prioritizing your day. If we take the time to think through the things we know we have to do, weed out the useless clutter and plan accordingly, we will limit the negative impact of the unexpected. And as you know, in any job, especially in the restaurant industry, the unexpected is sometimes the only thing we can count on.

Winston Churchill said "All men make mistakes, but only wise men learn from their mistakes."

Simple words but for some reason, many times we don't look back. Whether we are trying to forget or are too embarrassed to remember, we just plod along and before you know it make the same mistake again.

Several years ago, a mentor encouraged me to journal the things I've learned from being a leader in the workplace. This discipline has been a tremendous development tool for me as I am forced to reflect on the successes and mistakes I make as a leader. Through this, I can confidently tell you, I am a much better leader today than I was yesterday. Evaluating, reflecting and learning from past experiences is invaluable.

What lies ahead for you, for your restaurant, your chain, your team? Are you doing everything you can to prepare for success? What about the past? Are you making the same mistakes with your team that you made two years ago? If so, what do you need to change?

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Paul Mcginnis
Paul McGinnis is the VP of Marketing for Ecolab's Food Safety Specialties division (formerly Daydots). He is an author and a speaker, and currently serves as editor-in-chief of Food Safety Solutions magazine.
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