Newsletter Richard Ratliff

The Modern Butlers’ Journal, August 2019, Professional Standards of Performance

Professional Standards of Performance: Application #18

By Richard L. Ratliff 

Today’s Issue: A Worthy Foundation (II)

This second piece of our professional foundation requires a well-developed understanding of what constitutes quality of life. Our overarching responsibility is to assure an outstanding quality of life for our employers, their households, and guests. Many people equate high quality of life with high standard of living. The idea is that greater wealth ensures a higher quality of life. These are not, however, equivalent terms. While wealth can afford some of the more expensive toys, comforts, and pleasures of life, the term “quality of life” usually has more to do with overall happiness.

Some years ago, I undertook an informal little research project identifying 14 features constituting a high quality of life. These features serve well to guide modern butlers in their scope of expertise and responsibility:

  • Safety
  • Health and fitness
  • Intelligence/wisdom—usually acquired through a good, broad education
  • Personal practical virtue—reflected in practical life skills
  • Order and cleanliness
  • Beauty—e.g., geographic scenery, the fine arts, gardens, the culinary arts, architecture, interior design, the mechanical and industrial arts, etc.
  • Personal spirituality
  • Moral virtue—acting in behalf of the individual and collective welfare of oneself and others
  • Healthy relationship portfolios—including family, friends, professional associates, and others
  • Economic welfare and security—i.e., standard of living, with the understanding that living rich is not necessarily the same as living well
  • Meaningful purpose—good reason to get up in the morning
  • Interesting, pleasant, and wholesome activities
  • A strong heritage and sense of identity within context of that heritage
  • Agency—the right and ability of choice, within reasonable constraints of moral and conventional responsibility.

These features of a high quality of life undergird the broad scope and depth of responsibility a butler has for his employer, the household, guests, and household staff.  Our next installment will address moral imperative incumbent upon the profession.

A complimentary booklet on the standards of service, upon which this column is based, and also written by Professor Ratliff, is available for download in electronic format.

Professor Ratliff is a retired butler who co-authored Volume 1 of Serving the Wealthy and has published three other books and over thirty articles. He can be reached via the Institute.

The Institute is dedicated to raising service standards by broadly disseminating the mindset and superior service expertise of that time-honored, quintessential service provider, the British Butler, updated with modern people skills, and adapted to the needs of modern employers and guests in staffed homes, luxury hotels, resorts, spas, retirement communities, jets, yachts & cruise ships around the world.