My most revered memories of professional kitchens, both as a restaurant owner and Pastry Chef, were the times spent in them while they were closed.
Walking into a kitchen at rest offers humbling remnants of a spirit greater than self, the stillness provoking a passionate lucidity among the warm, flickering glow of pilot lights on the stove.
To me, those small flames were symbols of hope, each representing the constant promise of tomorrow among whispered expectations of desire and ambition. I would be at my most creative and optimistic in those early moments, eluding self-doubt through clarity of expression and design.
While my day began in silent reverence, eventually the ovens would be turned on, burners lit from their pilot source, and activities dedicated to executing awesomeness would commence.
Because the kitchen also teaches us that having hope, a trust in your abilities and potential, is not enough. Taking action, growing, learning, and continuously improving is the best way to achieve your goals and ambitions.
Hope is there to keep the fire burning. What happens next is up to you.
A Graceful Revival
What great adventure comes without its share of life-altering options, inviting you to stare curiously into their complexity, poetic in both timing and circumstance?
In context, I had left the Coast Guard, staked practically everything we owned on the dream of owning a restaurant, and came up short. Not from a lack of effort, more from a misguided belief that confidence and optimism would be enough to pull me through.
In the end, I became living proof that you learn as much from your setbacks, as you do from your successes.
Following a period of deep introspection, I pinpointed the source of my greatest joy and fulfillment from our restaurant experience: baking and pastry.
A natural talent for the pastry arts appeased both method and means of expression. Quickly formulating a plan combining desire with innate ability, we launched Renaissance Desserts, a dessert catering operation.
I continued to pursue projects and collaborations to expand personal knowledge and perfect my skills. This resulted in selection as the Pastry Chef for a high-end Country Club in Central Florida.
This pragmatic approach led me to the doorstep of Marriott International, and then onto a career as a Speaker and Leadership Consultant.
My means of expression had evolved from baking to communicating, the product of both discovery and continuous application of experience.
It was, in a sense, a graceful revival of original intent.
The opportunity to discover and pursue something I truly loved not only restored hope, it also nurtured a level of self-confidence present in every major life decision I had made up to that point, and those that would follow.
While hope represents centric belief in an expectation or desire, self-confidence reflects a belief in yourself. It is a connection to who you are, paired with a holistic understanding of why you do, what you do.
This empowered presence carries the potential to influence behavior and effect positive change in the environment around you. Trusting your judgement and ability positions you to embrace adversity as opportunity.
Maintaining this perspective can present it’s share of challenges . . . remember that with great change, often comes great risk.
Searching for Normalcy
Everyone on the planet is working through the adversity dropped in our lap by a global pandemic.
As devastating as the change process has been, building on hope and preserving self-confidence remain two key elements in achieving a semblance of normalcy. Tips to enhance your efforts include:
Stay Positive, Guard Your Habits
Nothing good in life ever comes from negativity.
Staying positive requires effort. Focus on at least one aspect of growth, progress, or potential as part of your daily routine.
This repetitive approach will improve Cognitive Memory and create habits, taking positivity beyond awareness and driving it into the subconscious where we need it to be.
Keep Your Sanity, Embrace Change
This may sound like a bumper sticker but is a mantra I repeat to myself over and over again throughout this rollercoaster process defined as “the act of making or becoming different.”
In short, change is nothing short of essential to survival.
Resistance will prove futile. You can’t go back in time, you can only move forward. Take a deep breath, thank the past for lessons learned, and start becoming something different.
Skip Reflection, Go Directly to Introspection
Reflection implies a mirror image, an experience lived without absorbing value.
Introspection connects you to the intended value of an experience through a review of your thoughts and feelings. Some models will refer to this process as Learning Transfer, but transfer implies movement, not the emotional investment we’re seeking.
Working or living through an experience without introspection is just a memory. Memories fade over time.
Dedicate time for introspection, a completely transparent evaluation of what matters most to you. Then build your future around this core.
You’re Not Alone
Keys to restoring hope, embracing change, and achieving a semblance of normalcy exist in the solitude of personal thought. However, you’re not alone in the journey.
While solitude may kindle humility and grace, seeking connections within your circle or community can help foster a brighter outlook. Realize that others share your perspective, work together to embrace adversity as an opportunity to learn and grow.
Surround yourself with positivity, don’t allow a negative outlook or detrimental thoughts to invade your habits.
Whatever it takes, keep the fire burning. You can’t control yesterday, but tomorrow is in your hands.