Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Kanji Up Yourself

Last year, in July, I became a number.
I was a chef, a pretty highly regarded one as well with plenty of accolades and pictures on the wall. I had left a diminishing position with a well known regional Theater company after their CEO got ousted by the board from the company that he had built with his own two hands over 15 years.
I guess that made us both numbers.
I followed the ousted CEO as he defiantly declared that he would build again, this time better and bigger and this time he wouldn't be giving away any significant percentage of his company.
And so we built.
I learned more in the two years I worked in that office than I did for the previous 10 but this time I learned about construction, design, mission statements, SOG's, FFE and color palletes.
We built in Milwaukee where we were sure that our 'product' would be met with eager anticipation.
We did our home work, our R&D, our pre marketing blitz, everything had been thoroughly mulled over.
For a while we did well but running a business 1200 miles away does have it's challenges.
Then came the housing market, then the credit crunch and pretty soon instead of having 3-4 projects coming out of the ground all developers ran for cover as the financial fallout increased.
Testicles were shrinking quicker than a cold shower.
And so the CEO was placed in the unenviable position of cutting back. He did the easiest ones first, assistants and support personnel but pretty soon it was apparent that the bleeding wasn't slowing down much as the 'doctor's' has prmoised.
Then it was my turn; great work, just bad economics.
Still a bitter pill to swallow but I wished them, as I wish them now, ever the best of luck because I truly believed in what we were doing and what we were offering.
Sometimes you can be a bit too far in front of the market place and it takes a while for the buying public to 'get' what you're pitching.

But if you think this is just another in a long line of gripes, complaints, sour grapes, panic and fear, read again.
What I learned there has prepared me for where I'm at now and I couldn't be here if it wasn't for that herculean effort.
I 'lost' that job but really it was sacrificed for the higher possibility for my life. Out with the old, in with the new, as they say.
One of the last tasks I had tackled turned out to be the first thing I did, once out on my own.
Turned out that my affinity with a particular recipe/inventory program was in demand in all sorts of different places and business types from QSR to Fine Dining and while I may not be making as much money as I did before I am more impassioned and committed to being in service in a way that makes a unique and quantifiable difference to these groups.

I am in deep gratitude for my time with the boys and I am now focused on seeing just how much I can achieve in the service of others; how high is up even if the world is, temporarily turned upside down.

Kanji in the Kitchen is defined as: the process of achieving and maintaining a grounded and present connection with the cooking process by cultivating a positive and expansive attitude.
Even though I may not be in a kitchen from day to day for now, I can use this principle to be more effective and, ultimately, more joyfull.
And you?

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