Sometimes it's better to reach a gold standard and perfect the skills you have, says Peter Hancock, chief executive of Pride of Britain Hotels
But what if you don't want to be the boss? Life would be intolerable if everyone felt the need to be in charge and there are only so many senior positions to go round. We're not all cut out to manage other people and there's a lot to be said for going home at the end of a shift without having to worry about what is going on in your absence.
It is remarkable how much more content waiters and waitresses who are past a certain age appear to be on the continent, rather than here in Britain. The culture in France and Italy, for example, seems to encourage anyone who is really good at their job to go on doing it - perhaps even for life - rather than aim for a management role they may not enjoy or be suited to. Could this ever happen here?
One initiative that is already making a difference is the Gold Service Scholarship, which has just opened for entries again this year. Talented men and women aged up to 25, working in any type of restaurant, can apply or be nominated by their employers, with the chance to compete in a brilliantly organised contest. The current scholar, Jennifer Santner, has been quoted as saying that the experience has opened many doors for her and widened her knowledge considerably. And it's no exaggeration to describe the prize as life-changing, as I believe all four previous winners would confirm.
During my own time as a waiter, head waiter and then restaurant manager in the dim and distant past, most of my contemporaries were at university preparing for a life stuck behind a desk or torturing customers in a dentist's chair. If anyone asked me what I did, I said I was a waiter, which usually prompted the question, "What is your ambition?" I wish now I'd had the courage to say "to be an even better waiter".
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