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  • Tate Anagnos

Chef Up Some Success

I like to cook because it has proven to be a destresser. I feel fortunate to have found such a therapeutic activity. As my cooking skills progress and I don't have to look at the recipe as much, I realize there is more to learn from this craft than just how to keep the chicken from drying out.


Improvement

What comes to mind when I think of cooking is trial and error. Nobody, without extensive experience, can nail a recipe first try. It's infuriating. It seems every detail is followed to a tee but the result is still underwhelming. I have made about 5 cheesecakes in the past month. How can such a simple concept be so damn tricky to perfect? Different ingredients, baking methods, and cooling methods have taught me to never underestimate the cheesecake. This goes for any other task that is seemingly straightforward. It takes trial and error. It has to get ugly before it's pretty. Learn from the little mistakes to minimize the big ones. My 5th cheesecake was by far the best. Not because I added a little more butter or sugar, but because I could taste the hard work and continuous improvement that went into it. It's a taste that is particular to me because I am the one who endured failure for it (failure is just a mask for improvement). The same premise applies to business entrepreneurs. No one can truly say they're a business entrepreneur until they know the feeling of running a business.


Patience

If you want to test your patience make some lemon squares. This is one of those desserts you can smell in the hallway. The crust and filling are very quick to make, but they require time to reach full potential. I have good self-control; I am never late to work, always keep composure, and know how to push myself. But when I pull those squares out of the oven and get hit it with that thick, lemony aroma, it's like I turn into a cheetah stalking a pack of gazelles. I could pounce prematurely and go for the smaller catch, or wait, however hard it is, until the prize catch presents the perfect opportunity.


Preparation

Half-ass preparation means a half-ass dish. Same with presentations, pitches, etc. The more you comb through the recipe ingredients/directions, the easier it is to put the components together. The more recipes you fully prepare for, the easier it will be to think on your toes when cooking a new dish. We don't know what mishaps the future holds. But if we already have a loose procedure used in other times of crisis, the problem is handled efficiently.


Taking Risks

We naturally focus on the risk of an undertaking more than the pay-off. Risk is all around us. Life is filled with low-risk scenarios. Just as my friend Bryan puts it, the kitchen is a great place to experiment with risk. But what can this teach us about high-risk undertakings? Getting over your fear of adding to much sugar should be an early precursor to writing that book you've always thought about, or asking your boss for a raise.


Cooking doesn't mean a 3-Michelin-Star meal. It embodies progress and having the resilience to improve. Think about how many times it took you to perfect eggs. Probably not many because eggs basically cook themselves. The risk of failing is slim so you only had to try a couple of times. Not much patience or prep was needed. Achieving bigger goals entails more of all four: failure (improvement), patience, prep, and risk.

What's scary is big success calls for big failure (feeling like you've lost everything).

What's encouraging is you can start without ANY attributes except the will to improve. That's all it takes to create your version of the "cheesecake".


P.S.

I have loftier goals than making a perfect cheesecake.

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