Constant Gentle Realignment - Christine Kane

Today, we’re going to examine the ways we get triggered when things don’t work according to plan, and how to use that awareness to institute a new, more effective way of responding so you don’t get freaked out when things get out of whack.

I’m sharing a passage from what might be my favorite business book ever. It’s called, “Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business” by restauranteur Danny Meyer, then digging into his management style and giving you my take on his “salt shaker method.”

You’ll hear 3 hallmarks of effective leadership according to Meyer, and learn how to incorporate the principle of “constant gentle realignment” in your business and life to maintain your vision and integrity … without losing your shit when it gets challenged by others (or even yourself).

I’ll share the inspirational story of a client who, after learning to lean into the cycle of disappointment and realignment, finally achieved his goal of buying the perfect property for his retreat center. Plus, we’ll dig into a tool called the “Sunday Summit.” It’s been a game changer for hundreds of our Uplevel students over the years, and I bet it will help you, too.

Episode Transcript

So many of us get so thrown off when the world outside of us doesn’t behave, like we think it should.

Welcome to the Soul-Sourced™ Podcast, unconventional business advice for the highly creative, secretly sensitive and wildly ambitious entrepreneur. I’m your host, Christine Kane. Let’s do this.

Welcome my friends to episode number 23, which is Michael Jordan’s number. And in my book, I make a brief reference to this. And one of the early readers of my draft didn’t didn’t understand the reference after I wrote it. And whenever that happens, like there was a point where I referred to ayahuasca and someone didn’t understand that. And I also made a reference to Myers-Briggs without saying what it was. I’d just said, INTJ or something like that. And whenever you do that, your editor is going to tell you to reconsider because your readers may not understand. And I just never did that. I figured if you don’t get it, it won’t matter. But if you do get it, hopefully it will be sort of funny. So we are at episode Michael Jordan’s number.

And speaking of my book, I am right now, sending out a big hug to everyone in the thank you. No, not a hug, cause you’re not allowed to send out hugs anymore. Elbow bump. Thank you. Big heartfelt thank you. It’s been a wild ride. And the book was the number one new release in women in business all week long, starting gosh, you know, days and days before the release. And it went into the top 20 in several super competitive categories, including,oh, business motivation and business culture, and even hit the self-help charts, which is a pretty tough one to be in because there’s a lot of self-help out there. So I’m really excited and really thrilled. And thank you so much.

And today we’re going to talk about a key element that most people forget when it comes to anything from their intention to their direction, how they manage everything in their lives and businesses. And I know that that sounds a little grandiose, but I’ve coached people now for over 15 years, if you count the years that I was a musician and hosting retreats, and this is something it’s a behavior I see constantly and people do not get it and they don’t understand how important it is. So on this episode, I’m going to do this a little differently. Instead of reading from my book, I’m going to read a short passage from one of my favorite business books of all time, and then we’re gonna, we’re gonna unpack it. Um, I just said it. I said, unpack, I’m officially an internet marketer. We’re going to unpack it. And then I’m going to break down why it is so dead on right now and how it operates in our everyday lives and work.

So on one of the podcasts I was a guest on this past week, its called The Entrepreneur Way. Someone asked me the host asked me, Neil, asked me what my favorite business or success book was. And I’m a little weird. I’ll admit it. Some of my favorite books on business are a little left of center or they were self-published and not many people found out about them, but this one did quite well, though I never hear people mention it when they talk about their favorite business books, it’s called Setting The Table. And the author is Danny Meyer, who is a restauranteur and entrepreneur. And if we could blend those two words, I’m sure we would, but it would be cool. But he started the Union Square Cafe and he went on to open many of New York city’s most popular restaurants. And his book does what so many business books just never do. And that is that the author shares some very real hard lessons. And he does that by telling very real and raw stories. And they’re well-written and they really show you some of the challenges that business owners face when things don’t work or when they get in their own way, because they didn’t consider their own incompetence in that particular area. And if you’re doing things right, you discover that quite a bit in your business.

But as I said, this passage that I’m going to read you, applies to so many other areas of your life, especially when it comes to your intention and your vision. So what I’m about to read you is a little passage from setting the table by Danny Meyer. And I may interrupt here and there to add my own little explanations and there’s little things I added just to make it easier for you to hear as I read it, because it’s hard to read someone else’s book. So here we go.

Three hallmarks of effective leadership are one to provide a clear vision for your business so that your employees know where you’re taking them. Two, to hold people accountable for consistent standards of excellence and three, to communicate a well-defined set of cultural priorities and non-negotiable values, perhaps most important, true leaders hold themselves accountable for conducting business in the same manner in which they’ve asked their team to perform.

I struggled mightily with the emotional and technical skills required for that kind of leadership as a 27 year old first time leader of my own company. As Union Square Cafe grew up, I realized that I too would have to develop new skills just to keep pace with my own restaurant and it’s staff. During one of his well-timed impromptu visits to Union Square Cafe, when I was still in my twenties, Pat Sita, and I’m just going to let you guys know, Pat Sita is a very, was a very famous restauranteur in New York city and apparently a mentor to Danny Meyer. Pat Sita sat down at a table with me and indulged my need to fret about the travails of managing my staff. I bemoaned the fact that I was failing to get any kind of consistent message across to my staff members regarding standards of excellence. Waiters and managers, at least half of whom were older than me, were continually testing me and pushing the limits. And this was driving me crazy.

If you choose to get upset about this, you’re missing the boat, Lover, Pat said with reassuring calm and his indelible New York accent, then he gave me a demonstration that has become integral to the way I view management. Pat’s simple lesson has helped me navigate through years of challenging moments as I’ve worked to encourage our team to build and sustain standards of excellence, especially while we’re growing. Pat pointed to the set table next to us. First, he said, I want you to take everything off that table, except for the salt shaker. Go ahead, get rid of the plates, the silverware, the napkins, even the pepper mill. I just want you to leave the salt shaker by itself in the middle. I did, as he said, and he asked, where’s the salt shaker now? Right where you told me in the center of the table.

Are you sure that’s where you want it? I looked closely. The shaker was actually about a quarter of an inch off center. Go ahead, put it where you really want it, he said. I moved it very slightly to what looked to be smack dab in the center. As soon as I removed my hand, Pat pushed the salt shaker, three inches off center. Now put it back where you want it, he said. I returned it to dead center. This time he moved the shaker another six inches off center, again asking, now where do you want it? I slid it back. Then he explained his point. Listen, lover, your staff and your guests are always moving your salt shaker off center. That’s their job. It’s the job of life. It’s the law of entropy. Until you understand that, you’re going to get pissed off every time someone moves the salt shaker off center. It’s not your job to get upset.

You just need to understand that’s what they do. Your job is just to move the shaker back each time and let them know exactly what you stand for. Let them know what excellence looks like to you. And if you’re ever willing to let them decide where the center is, then I want you to give them the keys to the store. Just give away the fucking restaurant. And then there’s this little center place in italics that sort of sums up the lesson, and it goes, wherever your center lies, know it, name it, stick to it and believe in it. Everyone who works with you will know what matters to you and will respect and appreciate your unwavering values. Your inner beliefs about business will guide you through the tough times. It’s good to be open to fresh approaches to solving problems, but when you seed your core values to someone else, it’s time to quit.

And then he goes on with the story. That center point of the table, Pat was saying, represented my core of excellence. Every other point on the table was to some degree, a measure of mediocrity or even failure, but his powerful lesson also taught me to preserve my energy and not ways to getting upset about a basic ongoing fact of life. Shit happens,Lover. Understanding the quote, Salt Shaker Theory, has helped me develop and teach a managerial style I call Constant Gentle Pressure. It’s the way I return the salt shaker to the center each time life moves it. A restaurant is like the stage for a modern dance ensemble, designed with props and animated by an intricate choreography from the front podium, through the dining room, into the kitchen and back to the dining room again, it doesn’t take much to move our salt shaker off center.

All it takes is for one guest to be late, having taken longer than expected to send that last email from the office to kiss the kids goodnight, or to finally get a taxi in the rain or cold. One party’s tardiness may cause us to be as much as 20 minutes behind for the next reservation. If two or more tables are running late, we may end up with a pile up at the front door, causing our standards to appear less than excellent. Our job is to adjust to circumstances and to keep the dance flowing with technical precision and artful grace. It’s my job, and consequently, the job of every other leader in my company to teach everyone who works for us to distinguish center from off center and always to set things right. I send my managers an unequivocal message. I’m going to be extremely specific as to where every component on that tabletop belongs.

I anticipate that outside forces, including you will always conspire to change the table setting. Every time that happens, I’m going to move everything right back to the way it should be. And so should you, that’s the constant aspect. I’ll never recenter the salt shaker in a way that denies you your dignity. That’s the gentle aspect, but standards are standards and I’m constantly watching every table and pushing back on every salt shaker that’s moved because excellent performance is paramount. That’s the pressure.

And now we’re back to just Christine talking about this. So, I’ve read this passage many different times to my higher level clients. And these are the ones with companies, teams, and we actually turned the whole salt shaker method into a verb. So I’ve gotten texts saying things like, yeah, it’s time for me to go salt shaker their asses. And so, I’m going to reframe this idea and I’m going to simply call this the constant gentle act of realignment. And no matter what we’re talking about, in your life or your business.

If you want to experience success, this is what you do. And most of us do not do this. That salt shaker gets moved and we pitch a fit. And I hear people say this all the time. Things like I told her to do it this way, and she didn’t, or I told my client to show up early. He didn’t even bother to read the email or I set an intention this year and then COVID happened. And I get it. I am she who throws those same kinds of tantrums as well, but in a world where tantrum throwing is now the norm, how might you experience a much more Up Leveled outcome? If you start seeing the constant gentle act of realignment as just part of your job set, it’s part of your skillset and then recognize that, especially if this is new to you, this is time consuming, especially at first, composing a conversation, like I walk you through. I think it’s an episodes 9 and 10 on, uh, boundaries getting broken, everything I walked you through that takes time.

And so if we’re talking about a business, when you’re re-explaining your company values or your values and why a certain behavior isn’t gonna work, that takes time because most of us want to just spew it out or fire off an email. And I am guilty of that. I don’t do this great. I’m learning just like you. So learning to do it without shitting all over someone, that takes self-management. It takes time and space to recenter yourself, to realign and consider how you want to communicate with people. Not to mention that in your daily rounds, you have to do this with yourself as well. You set an intention and maybe it doesn’t manifest itself at your front door with a nice little bow.

Well then guess what? You got to salt shaker your own ass. To give you an example. I, uh, I have a coaching level where I work with clients privately. Um, we go back and forth on the app called Voxer and it’s kind of all access to me anytime. And I limit it to just five people. And these are either clients or they are former clients. So that way they have a lot of, uh, background and they understand the foundations already. So I can step in and really help them tweak things. And that’s why I can do this. It’s called CK On Call. And one of my clients who’s in that program, she hired a rockstar personal assistant recently, and that was not an easy process because it was kind of new to her to get very meticulous about her hiring process.

So I walked her through how I do this. I guided her through the interview processes. I showed her what it looked like to trust herself when the first person who showed up seemed like the right person for the job, but wasn’t the right person for the job. And after a few interviews, she found the rockstar. And then after about a month or two, the rockstar didn’t work out and it wasn’t any dramatic thing. It was just that the job was too many hours for this person. And it wasn’t something this person had foreseen, how tired she would be. And of course, this is the kind of thing. This is when the salt shaker gets moved off center and my client is pissed, and I’m not laughing at it. It’s just, we all feel that. And it wasn’t that she was at her assistant, but she was busy at the assistant, but it was, she was at the whole world. And the fact that she’d spent so much time.

We all relate to that feeling, but that’s the salt shaker. So this client of mine, she’s on her way to building a seven figure business. And as a coach, I understand how I can teach someone how to just do a launch and get to seven figures. But I’m not a fan of that approach. In my mind, if you want to become, if you want, or if you want a seven figure business, you will only be able to sustain that level of success if you become that kind of business owner, that level of business owner. And so what I told the client is this, this is the work right here. It’s realigning. So get pissed , throw your tantrums. I call it going fetal, go fetal for awhile, and know that this is part of having a business, because people are involved.

And sometimes you put a lot of time on something that doesn’t work or the person goes away. But the good news is, you always have the choice of using the principle that Danny Meyer calls Constant Gentle Pressure that I’m calling here, Constant Gentle Realignment. On the same scale, you can also use this with intention. So I have a client who just bought a farmhouse on a lot of property, and he and his partner are now turning this into a retreat center. But the process of buying that property, it took about, I think, nine or 10 months, maybe longer. And I watched this person, he set a clear intention, and then it wasn’t approved by the County commission to be a commercial property. He went back and he realigned with his intention, did the work, and then someone else bought it out from under him. And he was a hundred percent deflated, like on his knees.

And he had already done so much work, but then he went and he realigned with his intention again, and that buyer fell through and then something else went wrong. It was like, the inspection went wrong, and I watched him get disappointed and realign over and over again. And when he and his partner finally got the house, it was like I had my own front row seat to how this principle really works. Now I’m not saying that you always get your way. And I will say my client definitely had tantrums, but he would always realign. But what I can say is that I watched him realign. I watched him surrender. I watched him realign with that intention and know what he was really going for. Wasn’t a guarantee, but he stayed in relationship with the intention.

And the point is that so many of us get so thrown off when the world outside of us, doesn’t behave, like we think it should. So as a coach, I’m always doing this kind of constant gentle realignment with clients. And it’s just part of the process of coaching. They don’t always get it the first time. They don’t always get it the second time. They don’t always get it the third time. So, with that said, let’s talk about a few ways that you can start to look at this principle and apply this principle. The first is actually what I’m hoping that this episode is doing at all. And that is to bring awareness to this whole idea. So start that awareness by considering where you get thrown off, like, what is your pattern when something doesn’t work in quotes, when it doesn’t work waaah! Do you fall into that black hole of nothing ever works out for me? Or do you, you know, start blaming people and blame as a way we smoke and mirrors our way out of our own intention.

We blame people, and then, we do the other thing, which is we enroll everyone in our friends, our friends are in our family. We enroll them all into the story of our disappointment or our martyrdom. And if you’re spotting yourself here, don’t judge it. Don’t be driving along, listening to this and go into some new level of shame and turn that into an excuse why you can’t learn this because you’re such an awful person. You’re not, you’ve just been conditioned to respond in a certain way. Guess what? That’s part of being a human. So essentially what Danny Meyer is describing here is a radically new behavior that most of us never got any kind of training in. And by the way, this is why I love coaching people in business because our business, our work, forces us to learn new ways of being, if we take it seriously, and we really want to grow up inside as we’re succeeding financially, it’s a really rich place to be. After that, the place I would go next, is to simply see these triggers and consider what’s an alternate way that you could respond.

And by the way, these are all things that I go through in my book in depth. But, and we’ve talked about it here on the podcast already. So you could start to see your bodily reactions, anything that’s contracted, any discomfort is kind of a big red flag. And then instead of just jumping into action or firing off texts or whatever you do, go sit quietly with that sensation. And then when you can feel a sense of, sort of neutral, as I call it in the book, accessing neutral, write in your journal, write somewhere before you, you know, put a flame thrower to your business and everyone in it. I often think that when someone comes to me and says, I’m really sick of my business, and I’m burnt out, that it might not be their business, they’re tired of, it’s actually their own reactions to their business and not every single time, but often that’s what’s happening.

They have forgotten the central premise of my book, and it’s called the Soul-Sourced™ Entrepreneur for a reason, and that is that your business is the training ground for your own expansion. Or as I like to say, because it’s called the Soul-SourceTM Entrepreneur, your soul’s expansion, your business is the training ground for your soul’s expansion. And when you realign, it doesn’t mean you don’t have those emotions that you don’t judge yourself for having them or judge the other people involved. It means that you then call your energy back to center. And again, there’s a section on this in my book as well. And then you realign with where, you know, you want to go. In other words, like I said, you, salt shaker, your own ass . Is this easy? No, it’s the hardest thing about the process of growing a business, especially if you get triggered by other people and the things that they do, or the opinions that they have.

The other salt shaker principle that I want to point to here, for those of you who have my book, is the tool that’s in the book that I walk you through called The Sunday Summit. So The Sunday Summit is something I created way back, when I first developed my Uplevel Your Life program. It is a practice that you do every single Sunday. It is a self summit. It is a come to Jesus meeting with yourself. And it has been a game changer for hundreds, if not thousands of our students and clients. You don’t have to do it on Sundays. You can do it on Mondays. My clients call it the Monday moment when they do it that way. But this is the first time I’ve just given this, this tool away in this process away. And it’s pretty much what you could call a constant gentle realignment tool. Then I included it in the section on interpreting circumstances and experiences because, the habit of learning, how to realign really requires that you self-coach, and you start to reframe how you’ve always seen things.

And if you get the book, you do get a download of that tool as well. But it is a practice that trains you how to be the CEO of Y-O-U, how to move that salt shaker back to center every single week. And the cumulative effect of that teaches you how to not let your business just be a whole bunch of experiences that keep on triggering you nonstop. It’s how you step back and retrain that brain of yours into having clearer responses to things. So I think you get the idea here.

My book is called the Soul-Sourced™ Entrepreneur. As I’m recording this, it’s the number one new release in women in business on Amazon. And you can go get it now. And if you do get my book, by the way, um, there’s a really special thing going on. You can go to and you can see how to get a ticket for my Click Retreat and the click retreat. And the Click means that when your Strategy Track and your Soul Track align to, to use the vernacular here today, everything clicks and that retreat is happening December 9th, 10th, and 11th. And this is 2020, by the way, in case you’re listening somewhere down the line. It’s three days, it’s not going to be something where we send out recordings. We’re going to Uplevel your business live together virtually, and the ticket price, which you used to have to be in a fifteen hundred dollar program of mine to take part. You used to have to travel to Asheville, to be in the room, this year, the ticket price is literally just one hardback copy of my book. If you go grab that, you can then go to and see how to get into the retreat.

I’m doing this in celebration of my book coming out, in celebration of all the support you guys have given me, and also with an Epic intention of helping everyone realigned their business before 2021, after this crazy year we’ve been through. So go to And if you bought a hardback copy of the book, you can register there for the Click Retreat. And like I said, it is virtual, but it is a retreat. We’re all going to do this together. And like I said, this is not a, half-assed kind of a thing. We’re all going to be whole assed on this one. I want a virtual retreat with people who are super committed and really committed to themselves and really committed to their intention and really committed to the service that they provide through their business in this world. And I have no interest in sending out recordings and just hoping that you’ll do the work on your own. Coaching works for a reason and groups like this work for a reason. And that’s because you do all the stuff that you tell yourself you’re going to do on your own, and then you don’t do it.

So you have accountability and you have help right there. You have tools right there, and it’s just a whole lot of fun. So you guys thank you for listening today and thanks for buying the book you have humbled me truly. It has been a long time coming, and I hope that the book teaches you this constant gentle realignment idea when you’re doing this hugely important work of leading people and leading yourself, whether you’re talking about your team, your clients here, participants, your vendors or partners, or like I said, simply you. So thanks everyone. I will see you on the next episode. And I will also see you at Click.