Gary Tetz

Sometimes in business — and particularly in the long-term care business — it can be useful to see things from a fresh, unexpected perspective. 

To support my point, let me confess that I know I’m losing my hair. Actually it’s a little worse than that: I’m virtually bald. The middle two-thirds of my total cranial surface area looks like a bad case of Amazon deforestation, or a satellite photograph of drought-devastated California.

Although I understand and accept my hair-challenged fate both visually and intellectually, that doesn’t mean I’ve ever had the full picture of what my barren scalp really looks like to the rest of the world. But thanks to a recent hotel stay, I experienced a moment of clarity and illumination that rivaled the apostle Paul on the road to Damascas. 

As morning dawned and I stumbled bleary-eyed to the shower, I was met with a shocking and horrible sight. Through the serendipitous placement of a mirror on the bathroom door and the coincidental angle of adjustable mirrors over the sink, I suddenly could clearly see the back of my head. 

It was a miracle of reflection, and a jarring revelation — a thin horseshoe of unkempt and useless fur ornamenting a skull-size bocce ball. The sight wasn’t pleasant or particularly helpful, and I looked away quickly to quell my nausea. But at least now I know.

Difficult as the truth might be to accept sometimes, maybe this is why there’s still something to appreciate about a bad survey visit. Or a strongly worded Facebook complaint. Or a less than stellar customer satisfaction score. Gut churning as these moments might be, they offer a rare and invaluable window into organizational defects and opportunities. They show you the back of your head. 

Unlike me, you can then embrace the information and take positive action. All I can do next time is ask for a different room — without any mirrors.