Josephine dreamed of becoming a chef, of having her own business. She was enamored with the magic of making food and spoke about it constantly. Putting enough mojo into an idea, calling to it, sometimes, often times, eventually it calls back. When it does, we find out who’s genuine and who’s not. With this desire to open a restaurant, a family friend said, “It sounds like you’re really passionate about this thing. I’ll give you some startup capital if you need it. How’s $25,000?”
In fairytale land, Josephine would have taken the money and gone through a meteoric rise in the culinary arts. New heights, cheer and happily-ever-after. But in reality, she didn’t know the first thing about managing money, investing it or growing it. So, despite the want, she respectfully and rightfully declined. She figured she’d circle back when she was ready.
Again, this is regular life however where the norm is, well, the norm. As in mediocre. Most “normal” people stay the course. Stay safe. Talk plenty, do little. And so it was with Josephine. She didn’t throw herself into researching business, learning the ropes, and toughening up for the day that she’d say “Yes!” to the offer. She just went about her days like… normal. And like normal, a few years passed and eventually her potential patron died as normal people do. Simple as that, the gift, the possible game-changer, was frittered away. She cried to re-live that story. It’s heartbreaking to lose the dream and the only person who believed in that dream, all at once.
A lot of people talk a good game about what they would do “if only.” “If only I had…” the chance, the connections, the money, the know-how. Yet time and time again, we see all kinds of people gain access to all of the above and still squander the opportunity. Because, ultimately, it’s not about what you got, it’s about what you would do with it. Plainly put, have you done the necessary planning and training to be able to make the most out of the hook-up you say you need, should it by chance show up? For most ordinary people, that’s a no.
The next time Josephine walked into her kitchen, it was in solemn meditation. She looked at her tools in an entirely new way. Her knife set, the cutting board, the spice rack, and her apron. The pots and pans. The mixer and bowls. They weren’t special. Nothing top of the line or fancy. They were plain and unassuming. How amazing, she thought, that tasty meals and desserts can come out of such simple utensils and ingredients. How is that possible, such alchemy? The secret, if we can call it that, is knowing the recipe, having the discipline to carry it out, and infusing the process with love. Presto!
This rumination led to the following epiphany: “I can bring this same sense of experimentation, skill-building, and passion to every part of my craft. Not only the food but my ledger, my signage, my customer service, everything. That’s how you feed people! It’s not just what you do in the kitchen, it’s what you do to get the plates *out* of the kitchen and in front of hungry enthusiasts. That’s not too mysterious or scary. That’s all business is. Delivering. And I have what it takes to start, the willingness to learn and to execute that I already bring to every dish.” And so began Josephine’s recharge, her humble go at being a new student, and finally, the beginnings of a sustainable small enterprise and valuable service to her numerous communities.
Josephine could just as easily have been an artist or executive director. Her journey reflects our own. The lesson would have been the same. That thing you’re wishing for is wishing for you too. But you have to be ready. Or more accurately, you have to be readying. In other words, in movement, not in stasis. After all, what is luck but chance meeting preparedness? Greatness is often built on little wins, not big overnight makeovers. What makes you and the things you do extraordinary isn’t going to be your major public-facing affairs. It’s the hours (the 10,000 hours) that you have in private, being studious, meticulous, wholehearted, and dedicated. In essence, it’s a lifetime spent in awe, curiosity, and above all, action.