Create your own path.
More and more, I fear the increasingly dangerous ways we escape to living a life through someone else’s experiences. All of us are guilty of flipping through an endless stream of photos on social media, only to pick our heads up and realize that hours have passed. Our pursuit of inspiration quickly turned into a game of comparison and a feeling that we aren’t doing enough with our lives. Ironically, the response is to keep mindlessly scrolling.
I once heard Scott Belsky give a talk based on his book “Making Ideas Happen”. He mentioned a term during his presentation that has stuck with me to this day and continues to serve as a jolt to my own productivity — like a flick to the back of the ear.
From a business sense, he spoke to the incessant desire many of us have to check analytics, sales figures, or growth metrics for our work. To these minute (and often untimely) activities, he dubbed the term insecurity work, plainly stating the underlying reason for why we want to see the results rolling in, our own insecurity. The point he argued was to say that if we spent all of the energy we typically exerted in constantly checking analytics to the actual accomplishment of the goals we seek, that our results would be far better.
I think of social media in this same way. We all are at risk of sitting back and watching a handful of great photographers on Instagram lead (what seems to be) an exciting and adventurous life, while our own opportunities subtly slip beyond our grasp.
As with nearly everything I write, I put this here as much as a reminder to myself as I do to any of you who may resonate with this point. I welcome your thoughts, ideas and tips to avoid such pitfalls as well.
Start living your own story.
Have you ever wanted to write (or say) something but stopped yourself because you felt that it’d already been said, yet you read a quote a 100 times and each time it’s motivating and you take something new from it?
In today’s world of social media and incessant sharing it can be hard to feel original. I often times find myself stifled by the desire to write something meaningful with every stroke of the keyboard. In all honesty, that line of thinking is pretty selfish for two reasons…
1) I want to project an image that portrays everything I say as being profound. It’s not.
2) I might be robbing someone from something they needed to hear that day.
In one way or another, the truth is that (nearly) everything has already been said. It’s not our job to uncover the great mysteries of life, but to share in the daily lessons learned and experiences had. They matter, not only to you, but potentially to someone else.
If something is on your heart, write it. If a compliment is on your lips, say it.
Atmosphere is Everything
I have a favorite question I love to ask friends (new and old) to get to know them better. I am curious about their most memorable and enjoyable food experiences. What I inevitably find, which is absolutely true for myself, is that the most memorable food experiences had to do partially with the food and partially (perhaps even more?) with the experience and the ambience.
A few highlights from my history of eating food (I’ll probably do a follow up post on these)…
1) An authentic crawdad boil in middle school.
2) A hole-in-the-wall Chinese place blaring 90s rap & hip hop.
3) Lobster bisque that was mind-melting.
Watching the most recent season of Chef’s Table was a reminder of this intuitive, although looked-over, fact of business / life / etc. Crafting a meaningful experience is equally as important as the product you put out into the world. The best chefs are finding ways to tease out multi-sensory experiences that are unexpected. This is what sets them a part. A lot of people can make fantastic food.
To be clear, one doesn’t function without the other, but both of them working in tandem (product & experience) is where the magic happens.
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Read the first post in this short blog seres // “the business of chef’s table: scale isn’t everything”
Don’t Buy Into the ‘Scale’ Myth
I just started watching the newest season of Chef’s Table on Netflix. It’s a must watch series in my opinion, but don’t start with the most recent season. Start at the beginning. It’s better that way.
While watching the first episode of Chef’s Table: France, I was struck by a very specific notion: scale isn’t everything. Too often in our society today, people imply that building something meaningful means to build something BIG. Something with scale and reach and influence seems to be desirous above most (if not all) else.
Then, you watch chefs who care so deeply for their craft that they choose explicitly to not make business decisions for the sake of efficiency and growth. They run their own gardening operations and they don’t set a menu until the day of service just to see what vegetables are going to be the absolute freshest for that day. Write that business plan in your MBA program and they would laugh you out of the room.
I believe this sort of uncompromising approach to food is above all an issue of integrity. For a chef to sacrifice nearly everything else to deliver on the promise of incredible food and a beautiful experience, is to see a person honoring their craft with all they have. This is what I admire most of the world’s top chefs, and what I find most inspiring…
They are not letting others dictate what success is for them. They are pursuing their passions and people happen to want to partake in the action.
We’re too measured. I probably shouldn’t speak for you, although this most likely applies. I’m too measured. If I’m going to write, I want it to be the best. I will pour over photos selecting the one that will connect most deeply for whomever views it. It’s broken though.
Then, when I do try to express myself creatively or in some unexpected way, I fear coming across as though I tried to hard. Because isn’t it all supposed to be easy, right?!
It’s what caused me to not post on this blog for months. At least partially. The rest of it was a combination of being extremely busy at work and enjoying the first year of parenthood with #clivegreyson.
I want to write. I want to create. And I want to do it for the sake of exploration and practice.
Here’s to that.