“You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I’m not hungry enough to eat six.”
– Yogi Berra
Nearly a decade ago I was hired by Le Cordon Blue College of Culinary Arts, sparking my fascination with the culinary industry. Suddenly, I was surrounded by insatiable food, creativity, and passion. As if I wasn’t sold already, one thing became clear: food is amazing! It holds the power to unite, nourish our bodies, and create lasting memories. Even a single bite can transport us effortlessly to years past.
After befriending talented chefs, it wasn’t long before I realized parallels between their work in the kitchen and the world at large. It became clear to me that we all can learn a thing or two from them.
Here are the top 5 invaluable lessons chefs can teach us about life.Advertising
1. Preparation = Perfection
The ubiquitous French culinary phrase “mise en place” translates into “putting in place.” Before everyone engages in executing the nightly menu, chefs organize and arrange all ingredients required. Everything must have its place.
Cooking is the art of layering ingredients accurately and timely through a series of techniques and proficiencies. In the midst of production, there’s little time to ‘prepare.’ Hence, why preparation takes precedence above all else. Such organization allows plates to be artfully constructed, both timely and systematically.
If you want something executed to perfection, preparation is necessary. Whether you have a simple or complex project, preparing can reduce unwanted stress. Organize and arrange before you dive head-first. When things heat up, you’ll have the required ‘ingredients’ at your disposal. As they say, it will be “smooth sailing.”
2. Clear & Concise Communication
As it heats up in the kitchen, everyone moves with a quickness, and some are carrying hot objects or sharp knives, which can easily create hazardous conditions.
Timing, both in movement and cooking, is an important element for well-executed meals. A single minute too soon, or late, can cause illness or frustration from patrons.Advertising
In these moments, clear and concise communication becomes mission critical. When a chef asks a question, it’s for a purpose. You typically only need to answer “yes chef” or “no chef.” Since chefs are making lightning fast decisions, backstories need not apply. For instances where a simple “yes” or “no” won’t suffice, keep it concise. There’s no time for verbal gymnastics or you’ll bottleneck production.
When you incorporate clear and concise communication in life, you enter a less complicated world by quickly getting to the root. Conversations stretch only to appropriate lengths, and people gather required information with enough speed to preserve momentum.
As you work through the day, think about reducing answers to a simple “yes” or “no.” When more complex answers are required, think about speaking with brevity to reduce bottlenecks.
3. Passion, Passion, Passion
Chefs are unique and thrive on their individuality. They have their secret recipes and techniques to separate themselves from their peers. However, there’s one commonality between them all: passion — dashes, sprinkles, cups, and canisters full of passion.
Chefs are passionate about their craft, take pride in their work, and they pour themselves into every dish or dessert. Since their work reflects their abilities, they work meticulously, in search of culinary perfection.Advertising
It’s unfortunate when people work half-heartedly in life. They do enough to get by, only to pass time and embrace the weekend. Why? Because they lack passion (or purpose for that matter).
Quite honestly, this lesson could be the most profound. When harnessed, this lesson can alter your reality. Using chefs as examples, find and incorporate passion in your life. Use it to pursue excellence. When your work feeds your soul, it commands the best version of yourself, and you’re more likely to achieve excellence.
4. Adjusting with Addition & Attrition
If you’ve watched a chef work in the kitchen, you’ve witnessed them taste-testing throughout the cooking process. At any given point, their palate may detect a flavor imbalance, thereby requiring ingredients to be added or subtracted. It’s part of the process. They’re quickly making adjustments with a simple mathematical formula.
Plenty of life’s experiences require adjustments. Though in moments when adversity strikes and we get knocked off kilter or paralyzed by fear, all that’s required is a simple mathematical formula and willingness to adjust. You can add or subtract something to regain your balance. It’s just that easy. I promise.
Now, a precursor to this lesson is eliminating the ideology that things will be perfect. Once you absolve this way of thinking, you are equipped for adjusting along the way. As a bonus, if you carved out prep time in the beginning, you’ll likely have everything at hand for your finished product.Advertising
5. Recipes = Reliable Results
Recipes are a staple in the culinary industry. The value of a recipe is the consistent product each and every time. Whether the meal is produced for the tenth, or hundredth time, the beauty is it tastes identical.
In life, we all strive for consistency, whether it be personally or professionally; however, we fall short of possessing and following ‘recipes’ which allow for consistent results continuously. We often ‘wing it’ with some imaginary expectation of textbook results.
When you desire consistent results, find a recipe. It doesn’t require your authorship either. You can easily find someone who embarked on a similar journey or someone who created a system for the process. When you find these recipes, compile them in your ‘cookbook,’ and keep them handy to use each and every time.
In closing, I’ll keep it simple. Find a chef today and give them a hug (or kiss) to thank them because they add so much flavor to our lives!
Featured photo credit: Courtesy of Pixabay via pixabay.com
Last Updated on March 29, 2021
5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All
When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’
What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.
The Dream Type Of Manager
My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.
I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.
My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!
That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”
I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.
The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers
My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.
However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.
The Invisible Boss
This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.
It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.
The Micro Manager
The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.
Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.
The Over Promoted Boss
The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.
You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.
The Credit Stealer
The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!
Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.
3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers
Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.
1. Keep evidence
Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.
Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.
Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.
2. Hold regular meetings
Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.
3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…
Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.
However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!