Is Your Life A Vending Machine Or Restaurant?

Vending Machine

Every one of us tends to see life either as a vending machine or a restaurant. The particular view we have determines what happens to us and what we get from life. By understanding which view you have, you will better be able to get what you want from life.

We’re all familiar with vending machines. They’re present in the workplace, in schools, in malls and pretty much most places where people tend to gather. Vending machines play a useful role in life – they conveniently provide something to eat or drink in a prepackaged format, a little toy to keep a toddler happy or some other item that can meet a short term need in our lives.

The upside of vending machines is that there is a specific selection from which we can choose and we can get what we want right away. Just insert the required coin/s into the slot, select your item, pull the lever/hit the button and, bingo, you have your item. If you want something fast, you’re not fussy about selection or choice and quality isn’t that important to you, vending machines are the thing for you.

The downside of vending machines, however, is that choice is limited – you’ve got to take what’s on offer and there isn’t much to choose from. Quality is also not that great as the vending machine cannot stock goods that will perish or spoil. You therefore have to settle for the same as everyone else.

Restaurants, on the other hand, provide a lot more in the way of quality and quantity of choice. Sure, you will have to wait a little while for your order to arrive but, if you’ve chosen your restaurant well, your meal will be well prepared and well presented, enabling you to enjoy it in a pleasant environment, making the meal an altogether fulfilling experience.

When you order from a restaurant menu, though, you have to be very specific about what you want and select a particular item from the menu. Naturally, such a meal will take a little while to be served as your particular meal, although listed on the menu, does not yet exist – it has to be made up from scratch, using the required ingredients, once the order has been placed.

If you were keen to enjoy a wonderful meal and I were to offer you the option of eating a meal from a vending machine or a restaurant, it would probably not be a difficult decision for you to make. You’d go for the restaurant like a shot.

But that’s only about a meal. Why, then, when it comes to life, do so many people have a vending machine mindset?

If you view life with a vending machine mindset, you think in terms of limited options, instant gratification, low quality and short term thinking. If that’s what you’re happy with, nobody can criticise you as you’re entitled to be who and what you choose to be. But then you should be happy with the little you get from life.

If however you would like more from life, you might want to adopt a restaurant mindset. This will result in you thinking in terms of very specific but wider choices, delayed gratification as you understand that you have to wait to receive what you want, and a better quality result.

Yes, life is like a restaurant. You have to be specific when you ask for what you want. If you do not have clear dreams, clear goals and a specific action plan, you’ll end up getting vending machine quality results.

Imagine if, at a restaurant, the waiter comes to ask you what you’d like to order and you say, “I’d like some food, please.” That waiter is really not going to know what to give you.

You have to select one of the numerous dishes on the menu and usually indicate clearly how you would like your meal prepared (meat rare, medium, medium/well, with veggies, chips or baked potato, additional sauce, side salad, extra onion rings …).

Life continually asks you what you would like to order. Maybe you’ve just not realised it and made fairly vague requests, if any at all. That’s why a wise teacher once said, “Ask, and you shall receive.”

Once you’ve placed your order in a restaurant (asked), you don’t sit worrying about whether the waiter will bring your order. You don’t get up and walk to the kitchen to see if he handed your order in or if the chef is preparing your meal. You continue the conversation with the company at your table happy in the knowledge that your meal will arrive when it’s ready. And then, when it arrives, you don’t ignore it and let it get cold. You receive it, eat it and enjoy it.

If you have been feeling frustrated or flat because you feel life hasn’t given you what you would like, I encourage you to change from a vending machine mentality to a restaurant mentality so that you can enjoy all that life has to offer you both by way of your career and your personal life!

by Alan Hosking: Publisher of HR Future, South Africa’s human strategy magazine, and a Leadership Renewal Coach for senior executives.





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