"it was the process of living in a way that adds value in the lives of others...
There’s a story I’ve often told about my grandfather when I want to convey my admiration of him; a true story of how purpose elevates us to a more meaningful place.
“Add the flour first,” he instructed me with the same convicted providence I imagined he had with his naval sous chefs. The sugar, baking powder, and dash of salt all sat patiently awaiting their turn. “Now sift it, because only the finest candidates can get the job.” Somehow, I felt like there was more to that.
To ensure the expected excellence, I poured the milk. Steady. Meticulous. Measured; as if performing surgery on the President. Grandpas work as the head chef in the mess hall of an old WWII vessel came to light, “keep a level eye son, but don’t get caught up in the paralysis of analysis! - get it done!” Cracked eggs and a shot of oil completed this milk mixture to which the dry ingredients were added.
He whispers, almost reverently “now, this is where the magic happens,” as he holds the mixing bowl and wields the spatchula with the grace of a tai chi master. He explains, “the most important part of this process is the relationship you engineer between the ingredients; the ability to respect and appreciate their differences while forging their union is central to the success of the product.” Seeing that he mesmerized my mind, he adds, “you’ll catch that later.”
“Have ya cut’cha fire on Son?” Discerning my look of shame, he counsels, “separation is in the preparation and,” scripted, I recite the latter half of this instilled value, “the distinction is in the details.” His gentle proddings always inspired me to grow, to explore my potential and become more of what I felt I could be.
As if mother nature, herself, could no longer bear the anticipation, batter and cast iron embrace for the first time. A lingering warmth and velvet aroma endorse the encounter. To further christen this hallowed moment, smooth creamy butter, cascades in a slow showy promenade. Grandpa smiles one of those arresting smiles that nests inside your memory for two forevers and says, “the butter,” nodding his head to affirm the thought, “touches the heart,” carefully noting the emotional intelligence of the recipe. Finally, the apathetic swagger of the caramelized viscous fluid merges the chasm between bottle and breakfast bliss.
As things began to speed up, my childlike inquisitivity kicked in, “Grandpa why do you make hot cakes so good?” Clear about his leadership vision: “Son, I am not just in charge of breakfast; I am in charge of daily morale...and when you do it right, you’ll change lives.”
The ideas of transcendence captured by those immortal words have had a tremendous impact on me. Hot cakes, nourishment not just for the body, but for the mind, the career, and legacy. Now that I’m older, I see that it was never about the melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness, or some sacred family recipe for that matter - it was the leadership he was pressing into my mind, the process of living in a way that adds value in the lives of others.
My Grandfather was a father of 6, husband of 60 years, and a small business owner with more than 600 customers. He was many things to many people, but to me, he was my introductory course in transcendent leadership. Like my grandfather, I have become a zealot about transcendence. I believe that leadership provides us the opportunity to build a legacy through the values we create, the minds we captivate, the hearts we touch, and the lives we change.
...share your thoughts