Too Many Cooks In The Kitchen

When you’re the boss, you’re in charge, right? You make all the important decisions. You make the choices. You call the shots. Decisions aren’t always easy, but when it’s time to make them, you’re the one doing the heavy lifting. After all, if you’re the boss, isn’t YOUR end goal what matters? It’s YOUR ass on the line, after all.

But sometimes, even the boss needs help. From your employees, to your Board of Directors, the importance of delegation and outside input is an important lesson on the road to leadership and it teaches us all that there is value in considering other perspectives. No boss ever got to be a boss without help along the way, that’s true. From a small business start-up entrepreneur to a corporation CEO with thousands of employees, they all have one thing in common: their vision built the company. But sometimes, the boss doesn’t know everything. They can’t possibly. Often, their vision and the big picture are such a powerful focus, that they need a team to remind them of the details. While the boss is busy dreaming about what the big picture goals are, it helps to have Mike in accounting and Stacy in Marketing and Reginald (such a fun name!) in Production figuring your shit out. Or at least I imagine that’s what it’s like in a big corporation. But my reality is that I am the boss of a small staff in a small business in a small town. And here’s what I know:

Sometimes, there are too many cooks in the kitchen.

I bake for my business, which is also a restaurant, so the majority of my day is spent in the kitchen. I work there, my staff works there, my suppliers are in and out of there, my friends are always popping by…we’re talking ex uncles, ex employees, other people’s kids, overly excited tinder dates… Hell, even my customers come back there. Some want to chat, some think they’re at home and return their dishes to the sink, some just want to come let you know the paper towel in the bathroom is out or the sugar needs refilling. (Thanks, Ron). Anyway, there’s a never-ending parade of people in my kitchen at any given time. It can be… distracting. As you can imagine, that’ s a lot going on in one 10’x20’ room.

A lot of voices.

A lot of noise.

Full Disclosure: By nature, I tend to think I know everything and don’t need anyone else’s suggestions. But recently, I noticed I had been so overwhelmed by confusion in both my business and my personal life that I was opening up the floor to anyone who walked into my kitchen. Suddenly, I cared what EVERYONE’S thoughts and suggestions might be because I had no effing clue what to do and I needed direction. I was lost and looking for guidance. From anyone.

It became overwhelming. In asking everyone else’s opinion all the time I found myself paralyzed and unable to make any decisions or take any direction. Sometimes you can get so used to asking opinions of others that you forget to consider your own as the most important one. Do you ever find your voice becoming just one in the crowd? Instead of trusting my intuition, I fell back on my analytical brain and considered every possible option and outcome and opinion. Trying to find clarity in that was like trying to untangle the knotted strings of 10 aprons after they’ve been washed and tossed and tumbled for hours. I’ve done both of those things and the results were the same: it felt confusing and frustrating and impossible.

A couple of days ago I was talking to my wise old mother (ha ha) and The Grand PoohBah said, in her mighty wisdom, “Everybody can tell you what they think, but nobody has to live your life. Nobody can make your decisions for you and nobody will. You have to decide.”

I’ve been in business for five years now and I’ve learned a lot of things. In my journey to becoming The Boss, I’ve had to discover (the hard way) when to talk and when to listen, and the difference between impartial advice and emotional investment. I’ve learned when to consider constructive criticism and when to let other people’s opinions hit the trash like a three-day old cupcake.

I don’t know if you’re into cooking, but chances are, you’ve done it a time or two. So you probably know that One’s the dream, Two’s a team and Three’s a crowd. Makes sense. When you’re trying to focus on one recipe or task, it can be distracting to have people adding a sprinkle of salt here or an egg or two there. Before you know it, someone’s turned the page in the cookbook and suddenly we’re all eating Jennifer Anniston’s Meat Trifle for supper.

If you’re feeling confused or unclear, here’s my suggestion. Start considering your own voice as the Grand PoohBah of All The Voices. Gather your board of directors, propose the valid questions, consider other perspectives, then make the choice for yourself.
Nobody has to live your life. Nobody sees through your filter. Nobody lives with all your particular conditions, emotions, experiences, and motivations. When it’s truly YOUR business, YOUR life, YOUR kitchen…

I'm The Cook Now
Look at me… I’m the cook now.

You Decide.

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