If you were a superhero, what would your power be? It's always fun to imagine that you could fly or teleport or maybe make yourself invisible. But even superheroes have their weaknesses. As Chefs, we do, in fact have some unique characteristics, or powers that enable us to perform well in our environments. It certainly takes a particular kind of person to do what we do. I was recently thinking about this and something occurred to me. We rarely use our powers outside of the kitchen.
Chefs are no strangers to high stress and high pressure situations. Most of us thrive in these environments and crave a high paced and ever changing world filled with adversity and last minute curveballs. Throw anything at us. We are always ready and willing to go above and beyond and make the impossible happen.
We work long days, long hours, weekends, and holidays. We will spend countless hours developing new menus and concepts. Testing recipes and turning ingredients into flavorful art. We push ourselves to stay current with trends and techniques and to develop unique experiences to keep our guests engaged and excited, sometimes spending days to perfect just one plate component. We do all this while leading and inspiring others, preparing and managing budgets, and monitoring safety and sanitation standards. Scheduling, payroll, purchasing, receiving and the list goes on.
It's the ultimate juggling act with each ball being made of very different skills. We don't shy away from challenges in the kitchen and nothing is impossible for us to pull off. We don't admit defeat in the kitchen and we rarely make or accept excuses. We don't shy away from adversity and we love telling the stories after the smoke has cleared.
These are our powers. This is our gift. But, is it also our curse?
Since I started my Coaching practice and the Facebook Group " Chefs for Change," I've really started to wonder about something. I know that most chefs take pride in the "powers" we possess and display in the kitchen, but it seems as though there is some kind of kryptonite that lies just past the exit doorway leaving the kitchen. How is it that we can leap tall buildings in a single bound while at work but, at the same time, believe that there is no way to create better balance in our lives? How is it that we can make ourselves completely available to our team and coworkers on our days off, but tell our loved ones that they should know better than to call us on a Saturday night? We will do whatever it takes to squeeze in a last minute pop up event, even if it means sacrificing a day off, but we say we are "too busy" to go to the doctor when we are not feeling well.
I think most of us are willing to admit that we wish things were different. I hear people say that they wish better balance were a possibility in the industry. Some have said that they wish there was a way to spend more time with their family or more time to have a hobby or get on a regular exercise regimen. Am I the only one who has just witnessed what we've done over the last 10 months? We were asked to completely change business models and go to a "take out only" format. Furlough staff and perhaps take a pay cut, if you were lucky enough to even keep your job. We started taking temperatures of staff, adjusted our receiving practices, cut back on expenses, worked behind plexiglass partitions, updated sanitation procedures, wear masks at all times, stay socially distanced, and come up with new and different concepts that comply with the latest mandates and help keep the lights on. But we just can't seem to figure out how to change the way conduct our lives.
Outside the kitchen, our powers go away and we form our limiting beliefs and make excuses as to why we need to submit to the circumstances instead of going after what we know will make us happy. That's where we give up? We draw the line at ourselves? I realize that I am addressing challenges that have been with our profession since the beginning, but I refuse to accept status quo. I know what we are capable of. We don't just cook food. We create experiences. We build complex systems and manage them well. We take care of everyone around us all the time. And when someone new joins the team or enters the dining room, we bring them in and show them what we can do. When do we start using our powers on ourselves? When do we become the "someone new" that gets to experience what we are capable of? When do our loved ones get to experience how awesome we are?
Nobody will ever go out of their way to change your situation. Nobody will ever take care of you, better than you can. And if you believe that change is not possible, than it never will be. Superheroes use their power for good. You are good. Get to work.
If you are ready for change, but don't know where to start, I am happy to help. Contact me from www.bebettercp.com.