Robinsons Hotels and Resorts Senior Business Development Director, Ms. Erica Sarmiento Lim, generously shared her contemplations on the changing world, how becoming a plantito/plantita signifies that you can thrive in the new normal, and her key takeaways during this period in a thought-provoking exchange for the August 2020 issue of Robinsons Hotels and Resorts' Newsletter, The Check In.
How do you see the situation we're all currently in?
We are now living at a time when everywhere you look around the world, there is a real paradigm shift and we call it the “new normal.” Though we have been hearing this phrase for many months now, it still sounds scary to imagine how permanent it will eventually stay in our lives and what changes we have to make in our routine to live with it. Change can be uncomfortable. Uncertainty is another layer of discomfort. Unfortunately, two things are certain in the foreseeable future – Change and Uncertainty. The question is, what do you do with what life has presented to you?
Fight or Flight? I am hopeful that everyone will answer the former since our lives literally depend on it. While it sounds like too much to bear as if you were put into the war on a daily basis, keeping a healthy perspective in life will do wonders for anyone going through a crisis.
Imagine if your goal throughout this whole ordeal is to sustain your happiness as a person – how will you attain it? You think of new hobbies like home exercising or baking bread if the old ones are not currently allowed (such as traveling for leisure or playing basketball with friends).
You might have not gone out with your friends since mid-March, but you’ve found new ways to interact with life by becoming a plantito or a plantita. Work may have put you in a new setting like working from home and having back-to-back video presentation calls, but then that might have been a perfect way for you to master those soft skills at work like communication, teamwork, and time management. If you find yourself having adjusted new ways to sustain your happiness as a person by finding alternatives to your old life routine, then you are capable of innovation and idea generation. You are a highly adaptive person, capable of healthy and productive change. You might not have noticed it, but you have what it takes to not only make it through the “new normal,” but to thrive in it.
What are your "wins" during this pandemic?
Having an incredible team that is hardworking, constant, ‘madiskarte’, and most importantly, ‘may malasakit.’
What do you like about being in the hospitality industry?
I never quite expected the hospitality industry to be so intricate and precise in its working mechanisms – each person is part of an orchestra and our actions result in a symphony. At the same time, I am amazed at how this industry plays such a fundamental role in our nation’s growth.
Who inspires you especially during these challenging times?
People who choose to do the right thing, no matter how difficult they may be, and those who share their stories of failure and learnings. Failure is inevitable in every stage of life. To share it with others and show their perseverance to become better is both humbling and always worth learning from, worth emulating.
What keeps you inspired and motivated?
Ironically, solving problems. Solving problems entails you to think critically, work dynamically as a team, push you to unearth opportunities, and give you a sense of fulfillment when done.
How do you "unearth opportunities" or unlock new ideas from yourself and your team members?
We tend to romanticize lightbulb ideas coming from sudden epiphanies. Unfortunately, that may be a bit too inefficient as those tend to rely on chance. On the flip side, we can still generate new and innovative ideas with a more structured approach: start with a clear objective, then list down the obvious and top-of-mind solutions to reach that objective – these are old and dead ideas. Now, we revisit the objective and ask ourselves “how else can it be done differently?” Usually, thoughts that come from answering this question bring new ideas.
Though that might be too simplistic to say, I really believe that people need to have a good mental balance to generate new ideas – feed the left side of the brain with facts and current events to ground your arguments then nourish the right side of your brain with interesting hobbies to keep your creativity at its apex. In other words, keep an open mind and find time to do the things you love.
What are your key takeaways during this COVID period and how it changed your perspective or your future outlook?
One of the things that this pandemic taught me is that "gripe" has no place in this world. If something is wrong, we must find a way to fix it. If something is imperfect, we must think of a solution to improve it. If something is missing, we may learn to live without it or look for something else. At the end of the day, "gratitude" helps survive and strengthen what remains of us. Gratitude and gripe are choices that we make each day, and that is entirely on us, not on this pandemic.