Just about everyone has the famous book “The Joy of Cooking” in his or her pantries. Many a novice cook (like me, for instance) has poured through its pages looking for the perfect recipe for a roasted chicken, a rack of lamb, or some other grand culinary creation. Or to just figure out how to hard-boil an egg (yes, I did that).
And, every time I link “joy” and “cooking” together, I think of the late Julia Child. I remember watching her on public TV in the 60’s, happily stuffing a roast chicken in that distinctive voice of hers. She was recently portrayed by Meryl Streep in the movie “Julie & Julia”, and seeing that movie brought back so many pleasant memories, and yes, a lot of pleasant tastes and smells too (watching Julia in her kitchen never failed to make me hungry).
She so loved what she was doing, and it showed. What’s more, while she was never afraid to poke fun at herself, she was always respectful to her craft, and to the process of coming up with fantastic and full flavored meals. And she could sum up her “recipe” for cooking quite succinctly:
“Learn to cook–try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!”
Recently, after seeing Julia & Julia again on cable, I had a very interesting dream – Julia was moonlighting as a management consultant. She had also written a book, called “The Joy of Leadership”. In the dream, she appeared in a boardroom full of executives in her full kitchen regalia, a wooden spoon in one hand, and the book in the other.
Julia was going to show us how to prepare and serve a great leader. And so she began……
“OOOOKaaay everybody, here’s how we do it. Mix all these ingredients in a medium sized office. We use a medium size because we don’t want too much hot air in the mixture.”
“3 cups of common sense”
“A ton of courage. Ooohh yes.”
“A gallon of heart”
“Just a pinch of ego – oh, be careful there, can’t overdo that”
“A quart of confidence”
“A spoonful of intelligence. You don’t need as much of this as you think, because of the common sense”
“A tablespoon of self-awareness”
“Oooh, don’t forget a dash of mischief! This really brings in the flavor.
“A cup of integrity. Oooh no, the truth doesn’t hurt this recipe”
“And last, 2 cups of persistence. This makes sure everything combines well”
“Put the mixture under low heat – but not too hot.”
“Stir occasionally, and season with some fresh time.”
“You’ll know it’s ready when you can put some pressure on it and it bounces right back.”
“Voila!! A great leader! Bon Appet.. umm, wait……Bonne Direction!!”
Julia then left the room, but she left behind the book. I quickly picked it up and put it on my bookshelf in my office, confident that the next time I needed a leader, I had the perfect recipe.
But I needed two more things. I picked up the phone, and asked my office manager,
“Hey, do you have any wooden spoons and aprons back there??”