When cooking food, a little too much or too little of an ingredient can ruin a dish. So if you are cooking from a great recipe, it is vital to focus on every aspect of building that recipe in a way that will yield success.
Great meals don’t come from great recipes; they come from great execution of a great recipe.
Great Recipes Do Not Equal Great Results
At first, I couldn’t understand how someone could have a great recipe for a great meal but still not be able to produce a great meal. With that reasoning, everyone should be master chefs (and we know that’s not the case). I have come to realize in my ignorance and oversimplification of cooking that the problem lies not so much in the recipe as it does in the placement of focus.
Let me explain, great chefs have great focus and an innate ability to place focus on the right things at the right time. A masterful meal is the byproduct of placing great focus on the details and the processes. The reason many fail at making great meals is because they are focusing too much on… making great meals.
Notice Your Focus
As a youth football player I tried being a kicker (kickers are cool in little league). I couldn’t make the cut and had to settle for a skill position. Who knew playing a position other than kicker could be a demotion! The reason I kept failing as a kicker was because I was focusing too much on trying to make successful kicks rather than the actual process of kicking.
Q: So what does a successful kicker, cook, and company have in common (if only “kicker” was spelled with a “c,” my alliteration would be classic)?
A: The answer is, they all do well when they focus on the details and not the results.
They don’t focus on success because they recognize you can’t place focus on results; you place the focus on the details and processes it takes to produce results. Great kickers have an incredible ability to avoid the temptation of wanting to look up and see if their kick in going to be a successful kick or not.
Similarly when it comes to organizations, I have seen where leaders really wanted to be successful but were not able to stay focused on the details and processes it took to produce success.
Recipe for Disaster
Here are a few examples of how recipes for success can come up short:
1. Missing Ingredients
A team wants to be successful, yet no one brings the focus down to the real issues that preventing or hindering its success. Take the time to find what’s missing; could very well be the key ingredient to your success.
2. Half-Baked Plans
An example of a half-baked plan would be having a long-term strategy that you abandon when the early results are not what you hoped for. If this is a long-term process, then stop assessing it by short-term indicators.
Indicators are important, but they are not results.
That’s like pulling the chicken out the oven half-baked and tossing it in the trash because it’s taste was not what you had hoped for. News flash, don’t expect half-baked chicken to taste like anything other that half-baked chicken! You don’t pull out half-baked chicken to taste it, you pull it out to see if it’s cooking according to plan.
Leaders can feel the pressure to show immediate returns on their work that they fall into taste testing their approach and not merely assessing it. This can lead to constant abandoning of incomplete plans and approaches. This can also lead to high turnover and instability within an organization or group. Be sure to keep checking on you plan, just remember that it’s still not finished yet.
3. Wannabe Master Chefs
Don’t try to get creative until you’ve mastered the basics. People often view creativity as if it is the opposite of order and discipline. Creativity should actually be an expression of high level mastery of the fundamentals. Many try to go out and start with this new creative, out of the box approach only to fall well short of all expectations. Before we become creative, let become competent. Once you’ve mastered your understanding you can begin to apply it in unique, and innovative ways.
What’s your recipe for success? Once you have your unique ingredients, turn your attention to the details and process of following your plan, strategy, or approach. This will help you have the success you’re looking for. My wife (who’s a wonderful cook) at times would ask me how I would make such wonderful dishes on the rare occasions that I do cook? My reply is usually the same, “I followed the directions from the recipe, Sweetie.”
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Dr. Tommy Shavers is President of Tommy Speak LLC. and Unus Solutions Inc.
His lenses are Teamwork, Leadership, and Communication
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Dr. Tommy, I love this–especially the “Half Baked Plans”–so true!