Lecture Hall/Archives - Book Reviews

Book Reviews


Hand Analysis in Business: "The Adventurer's Inn"

By Richard Unger

When I was fifteen I went to work for the first time. I was excited to be so adult and couldn't wait to get out of the car and put on the uniform. The place was Adventurer's Inn in Flushing, New York, a restaurant with rides and games in the hack; a hang out for families on the weekends, teenagers on Friday and Saturday nights, and for business people during the week. I got a yellow shirt and apron, and a yellow paper hat bearing the words Adventurer's Inn.

I was the youngest one working there, and when I got the assignment to clean tables I was delighted. I was so naive that I actually thanked the manager when he asked me to clean spills or to go out into the parking lot and clear some trash dumped overnight.

What a place. Everybody talked to each other and joked all the time. It was like one big family. When it was busy at the restaurant, everyone worked their butt off. Five to eight hours without a break was not unusual. And when the rush was over, everyone was proud of their role in helping the team get through, as if they owned the restaurant themselves and the extra business had put money in their own pockets.

But of course, that wasn't the case. I was making $1.15 an hour ($0.91 after taxes) and most of the others were not doing that much better. Nonetheless, each person I met seemed to love their job and worked with a pride that shined from within.

Obie ran the kitchen, Leroy was number two. Hubert, the mad German, ran the bakery with Peter and Pierce as his top slaves. George ran the counter, and within two years, I ran the busboys. I worked there for five years, through my sophomore year in college, and each time I would come back from school for winter and spring breaks, I would go first to the restaurant to kid and jive with my closest buddies on the planet.

I was twenty years old when I stopped working at Adventurer's Inn. I had never worked anywhere else, and I thought this is what work was like: close friends, team spirit, pride in self, satisfaction at a job well done, hard work, lots of laughs, and a warm feeling all over. It was only later in life that I realized what a very special place that was, and that my life had been blessed for having been there.

What was it that made Adventurer's Inn so unique? It wasn't the pay and it certainly wasn't the work itself. How could I feel so good after spending twelve hours putting 3000 hot dogs on buns? As I look back now I can see that the crucial difference was management. It was a management that knew every employee (and there were 82) and took an interest in each one; that cared about them as family, and took the time to help each person do their best. It was a management that could laugh at itself or crack the whip as necessary; that garnered the respect of each employee and brought out their dedication and pride.

This is the type of place at which we would all like to work. It is life-affirming to have a job where you can give your best effort and feel good about it. It is more fun that way.

What does this have to do with hand analysis? I see hand analysis as a tool that has enormous transformative potential in the workplace. I have witnessed the magic a thousand times. For example, last night I presented a seminar for a dozen people that included a five or ten minute reading for each person. When the evening was over, everyone was hanging out, discussing their reading, their life, their challenges. People were meeting each other at a level of reality much deeper than they were used to, yet the communication was clear and supportive, not sappy or airy-fairy. Hand analysis can have this effect in the workplace, and it can do much more.

It can help employees and employers identify and unlock their highest potentials. It can help people see their weak spots without blame or judgment. Most importanily, it can help people discover their life's purpose, that evolving aspect of self where we are at our best, where who we are and what we do merge without self consciousness.

Self-actualizing people generate a true enthusiasm. They do this through their natural camaraderie (as opposed to undercutting competition), initiative (instead of obligated responsibility), and innovation.

Hand analysis has a role in the workplace because it is one of the most potent tools for self awareness that exists on the planet. It is universal (everyone, pretty much, has a pair of hands), easily accessible, and non-polluting.

At Adventurer's Inn, it was the general manager who created the framework that supported the workplace. He had a particular genius for bringing out the best in people. Hand analysis can assist any manager or management team to create a similar framework. Through readings and seminars facilitated by hand analysts, employers and employees can open up to higher personal possibilities and a new awareness of their own and each other's humanity. In the past, the successful business was the one that out-produced the competition, and (hopefully) the employees got to share in the profits; in the future, the emphasis will be on self fulfillment, and the successful company will be the one that offers its employees the best environment for self actualization.

I went back to Adventurer's Inn at age twenty three (a college graduate now) after a two and a half year absence. The general manager had left and the place didn't look the same: there was litter in the parking lot, nobody was smiling or talking to each other, and the hot dogs tasted flat.

I realized that what once had been, was no longer, and that like so many other parts of my life that had changed, the arrow of time was irreversible. But I'm thankful for my early work experiences, and I think they help me all the time. I'm glad I got to see what a workplace can be, and I know how important that can be in a person's life. I'm eager to share hand analysis with employers and employees, and to do my best to help transform the workplace to a place of growth and nurturance.

And I'm glad I got to see this aspect of my Dad at its best, because, as the general manager of Adventurer's Inn, it was he who helped create that workplace as it once was. I only hope I can live up to his standard in my own business, and I hope I've told him clearly enough how proud of him I was, and am.