Last night I posted a question on Facebook asking a simple, yet powerful question: “what do you wish your employees did better?”. What were the responses? There were a lot. Some of the typical responses that I expected: “clean their stations”, “showed up to work on time“, “communicated better”, and several others, however, the response with the overwhelmingly majority surprised me.

“I wish my staff took more pride in their work”.

This is both good news and bad. The bad news is that it shows the sad state of affairs as it relates to employee engagement in kitchens throughout the world. The good news is that its easily remedied by a mindset shift.
So, if you’re an employee, which is most of us, I hope you’ll take this to heart, and if you’re an employer, this mindset shift applies just as much to you (I actually wrote a rant on crappy managers here, too) as well as it does to me as I sit here writing this.
Every day is an opportunity. We get out of bed. We go through our routine, head into work and often find ourselves going through the motions. It’s easy to go through the motions. It’s easy to mail it in. But, the individuals that become successful are not the ones that mail it in – they are the ones that are intentional. It’s people like Chef Thomas Keller who in the walk in stands his asparagus up in water, because that’s as close to how they exist in nature as possible. He does the same thing with fish sitting in the cooler waiting to broken down into filets for service. There is a certain intentionality to it, but where does that intentionality come from? Some might say passion, but Keller will disagree with you. In his TEDx talk he said,
“It’s not about passion. Passion is something that we tend to overemphasize, that we certainly place too much importance on. Passion ebbs and flows. To me, it’s about desire. If you have constant, unwavering desire to be a cook, then you’ll be a great cook. If it’s only about passion, sometimes you’ll be good and sometimes you won’t. You’ve got to come in every day with a strong desire. With passion, if you see the first asparagus of the springtime and you become passionate about it, so much the better, but three weeks later, when you’ve seen that asparagus every day now, passions have subsided. What’s going to make you treat the asparagus the same? It’s the desire.”
So, you have to have that desire to show up every single day, even when it’s not sexy, fun or particularly exciting to do the best possible work you can do. As Chef David Chang says,
“You either make it right, or you don’t do it. Life’s too short to be mediocre at anything. I always yell at cooks saying, ‘if you took this job to make money, you’re a fucking idiot. Why would you sacrifice your education so that you can make money – I understand you have to make money to pay rent, but at a certain point it’s about learning and getting better at this craft… at this job of yours’.”

So, how are you showing up every day? Are you putting in the work… AND… are you intentional about it?

OR…

Are you going through the motions? Mailing it in? Showing up every day to make a paycheck, but aren’t actually growing?

Its up to you. You can blame your boss, your situation or other outside influences, but at the end of the day, your success, well, that’s dependent on you. If you want success, go out and get it. Every. Single. Day.

If you need some more inspiration as it relates to “Opportunity”, check out this talk I gave at Miami Culinary Institute.

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