Something Worth Cooking

What did you have for dinner a week ago?

If that took you longer than 10 seconds to remember, or if you still have no idea, that’s fine, and you’re not alone. But let me ask you another question: Can you remember what you ate for your last “special” meal? Think about the last time you made breakfast in bed for your significant other, cooked your family a special holiday dinner, or just invited friends over so you could enjoy that nice bottle of wine you’ve been saving since, well, Thursday.

Was this question any easier? I can remember the braised beef my girlfriend and I had several weeks ago because it was something special we wanted to cook together and it was a planned meal. That is, we didn’t get home from work and say, “Ohh, I guess we should eat dinner, but I don’t want to think about it, so let’s order out.” The meal meant a lot to both of us, and it was the act of making the meal together that made it so memorable. How is that possible when, after a long week of work, we were surely exhausted and starving hours before actually sitting down to eat? It is because in this instance the food, the end result, the sustenance that all humans need, was not the focus.

 It was a passion and focus on the process. The planning, the preparation, and being together are what made this meal memorable, not the braised beef.

Human motivation is interesting; the more readily accepted and popular thinking is that hunger is the #1 motivator. If someone is hungry for something, they’ll do anything they can to get it. This theory generally holds up in most situations, especially when there are limited resources. So, if I’m trying to motivate you to do something, I should just make you really “hungry” for it, right? This is true if we want something done quickly without any thought put into it. Hunger puts a focus on the here and now, and on personal needs: “Screw the rest of you, I’m hungry, and I need food, now!” I’m sure the Donner Party would agree with this theory of motivation.

Why do you think McDonald’s restaurants can be found at every rest stop on every interstate in America? You don’t find Emeril setting up shop in these places, do you? This is because hunger is a motivator in this situation; people don’t want to plan, think, or wait for food when they are trying to finish the 6 hour drive to Grandma and Grandpa’s house with 4 kids in the back.

Hunger calls for a quick fix and involves little self-control and thinking. Hunger is an amazing motivator for getting things done…with shoddy results.  

This is why the kitchen is such a great metaphor for developing yourself in anything and everything that you do. Leadership and personal development is about passion, not hunger.

Hunger is fast food that will take years off your life. Passion is the memorable meal. Your passion is a meal worth cooking.

Here’s my question:

  • What is something worth cooking for you? That is, something you want so bad right now, but have to plan, put together, and won’t get to enjoy for a while. Don’t worry about the planning part right now, just focus on the passion.
  • What are you “starving” for but couldn’t run down the street to have made for you in 30 seconds?
  • What’s something you would be willing to work towards because the end result inspires you so much?

Once you have an idea of your passion, hunger can be tamed while working towards this worthwhile end product. What you do with that clear picture of the end result we will get to later.