Ashly Balding joined ALHI in 2003 where she first served as a National Sales Manager in the Atlanta office and was then promoted to Vice President of Sales, then to Regional Vice President. She led the southeast USA region for over 5 years before transitioning to Executive Vice President, where she led four of the six Global Sales Office regions worldwide. Currently, with just over 17 years with ALHI, Ashly serves as ALHI's Chief Sales Officer, where she serves the organization through member communications, sales strategy and strategic business development.
A Perspective on Managing Disappointment
My 6-year-old daughter Jetty is many things—caring, precocious, faith-filled, and also already an intrepid, ambitious entrepreneur. I recently came home to discover she had gathered together family heirlooms, clothing, and pieces of furniture, then moved them to a central area and tagged everything with prices.
“Darling, whatever are you doing?” I asked, at a loss for what game she’d invented this time. She looked me straight in the eye and replied with inherent glee, “We’re going to have a sale so we can buy a puppy!”
What can I say? It should be no surprise that enterprising thought is in her DNA. In fact, I am so proud of it! I can’t wait to discover the places that her creativity and determination will lead her. On the other hand, it also makes me consider how to prepare her for the reality and disappointment in this particular moment. Now is simply not the time for a second puppy in our home.
I am keenly aware that she did all the preparation and hard work to raise the funds. She had a perfect vision for her future, but now is just not the moment for our family.
It’s a reality for every child, and also every adult. And sometimes it doesn’t get easier with age. We have the benefit of perspective — we can see the goal at the end of the road, and we are completely confident we can do it. The road itself however is full of uneven gravel, unexpected twists and the occasional wrong turn. It’s anything but a straight line.
This year, the hospitality industry has endured a global pandemic that has now spanned more than a calendar year — a journey that has sometimes made me feel like I was moving in reverse in spite of giving it my utmost effort.
What I’ve learned this year, and what I want to instill in my daughter, is the heart, and the strength and the grit to never, ever give up. As a leader, and as a parent, I have the beautiful opportunity to propel my team, my family, my community and even my industry through this to a much better future.
For our industry, that means swallowing the reality that 2021 may not be a banner year, or even a normal year, until we are on the other side of this pandemic. For Jetty, it means we are not getting a new puppy right now. In both scenarios, we are going to channel that disappointment into something greater than we can even anticipate in these trying days.
To help give me perspective and keep me inspired along the way, I’d like to share a few tips, tools and tricks I’ve focused on over the past year. Consider this…
- Stop thinking you know all the answers. You don’t. None of us do. And if even if you know the answer, it’s a good idea to pause. Open your heart and ask a question. Even if you know the definitive answer, ask the question anyway.
- Come from a place of learning. Find books, podcasts, speeches and videos that offer new perspectives. Calendar 30 minutes for yourself daily to listen or read to take in a new idea. Some of my favorites include: The Brene Brown’s Dare to Lead podcast, A Minute with Maxwell, the Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast and The Goop Podcast.
- Recap your day, every day. Professional sports teams review game tapes to watch themselves, hear feedback, refine and learn. Every. Single. Game. Professionals in any other arena can — and should! — do the same. Every evening, I take a look at my day and go through the wins and the losses. I ask myself questions like, ‘When could I have been more clear? When could I have been more empathetic? How could I have shifted my approach?’ The next day, I go forward with those reflections in mind to do better. And if I need to go back and clear the air, or re-communicate about a project, I do it.
- Build community. Self-reflection and self-awareness is crucial, but a community of truth-tellers and supporters can take you farther than you could ever go alone. Invest in others and give back by being their truth-tellers, too. You’ll suddenly find a community of accountability and transparency growing all around you.
We’ve got this. We are the very thing I just described – a community who supports each other who can go farther together than we ever could alone. I believe in our collective ability to do great things, together.