Friday, July 20, 2012

Confession # 29: Refinement

30 confessions to 34
Confession #29

 Word or phrase of the day: Refinement

 Synonyms: advancement, breakthrough, enhancement, improvement, advance 

Antonyms: setback

 Today I had a revelation. It's not a new one but had a new twist, it gave me a better understanding....

 A few months ago I was cracking a bunch of eggs for a recipe. The production was large enough that I needed the 30 qt mixer, which happens to be shared equipment with another Baker named Jen on the Black Star Farms property. One part of the recipe called for a whole case of eggs to be cracked.  (For those of you who don't know, that is approx. 180 eggs.)   Jen was also present that day working on her own projects and as I was busy cracking my eggs, she seemed interested in what I was doing.  I could feel her watching me.  Then she shouted across the kitchen to me over the noise of convection ovens and the dough sheeter, "Wow, are you cracking those eggs one at a time??!!"

"Yes" I said feeing a little uncomfortable and for some reason possibly self conscience now.

 Jen replied "Well someday you should be able to crack those with one hand, and then maybe when you get good enough- even two at a time!!  It sure will save you a lot of time when you figure that one out."

 I have to admit I felt crushed at the specific moment, my immediate reaction was to think "Jeez, I am doing the best that I can here.  Why does she have to point out that I am obviously not as good as her yet."  Interestingly when I thought no one was looking I tried cracking eggs with one hand that day.

 I took her words to heart as I later thought about what she said. In no way was her intention to be cruel or rude, she was stating an obvious result of practice and efficiency. She knew that the more and more I had to prepare recipes in mass, as I was doing that day, that I would find ways to be more efficient.  She was teaching me if I was willing to listen.  It wasn't a personal attack, it was a professional insight to help me become better.

 The more subtle message in what she said, and that which I learned was "your success will be that much quicker the sooner you figure out how to do this better, faster, stronger."  This was a breakthrough moment for me and has helped me since then to push myself to be better, to improve my work day after day.

 I can now crack eggs with one hand, two hands even for two at a time!  There are still some shells to fish out of the bottom of the bowl at the end of a egg breaking free for all.  I still have to keep practicing!  Still, the time it takes to crack those eggs and fish out the few shells is far less time than cracking a whole case, egg by egg.

So the revelation:

 Today I learned from being on the other side as the instructor, that the people you think you are helping may not seem to hear what you have to say when sharing what you know.

As the teacher, sharing what I know, I will have faith that they did hear it, despite the defensiveness or the excuses. I will believe that they want to be better.  Its my opinion that in order to advance in whatever they are pursuing in career, happiness, health, or knowledge they may need to acknowledge other perspectives and ideas about how to do things.  I believe that if they are passionate and love what they are doing that they will strive constantly to be better.

 I received a better understanding today from being on the other side that through listening I can gain knowledge to be even more refined and better at what I do. The lesson I learned from Jen is what planted the seed of this idea, my experience from the reversal in roles today reinforced my need to continue listening.  I have to remind myself over and over that I still have so much to learn.  When people point things out to me that i could be better at, I need to not take it personally but be thankful they actually took the time to point it out.... and then practice practice practice!

Thank goodness, I am always still a student first.

 Continuing to pursue successfully and advance in what I love, this practice I have in the kitchen.   I constantly want to improve my abilities and skills within my culinary work.  I am open to suggestions and help, and I have to not be afraid of constructive criticism. (Though I still have to remind myself over and over to not let me first reaction be defensive or feel like I did something wrong.)  My growth as a professional will not be possible if I think I am always doing it perfectly the first time.

I will be open to the advice and wisdom of the people who I trust want to see me at my best.