Food Woolf Season Finale, 2014

foodwoolf season finaleEver noticed that the best shows on TV communicate a particular theme each season?

Shows like Homeland, the Killing, Mad Men, and other past greats like The Wire or The Sopranos tell complicated stories with dramatic themes like: you can never go home, you can’t deny your true nature, or the past will always catch up with you. 

If the writers have done their job well, the theme of the show is reflected in the main and secondary storylines all the way through until the televised narrative comes to a dramatic end.

I’d say that if my life was a series, this season has been full of wonderful narrative twists and turns—some expected and others completely unanticipated.  The season in my life and on has been about big changes that began with small actions and events.

By aligning my personal and professional goals with my internal compass I saw how the incremental turns could lead to entirely new vistas.

The theme of 2014: Actively live in the paradoxes.

The paradoxes:

  • Give in order to get

  • Get comfortable being uncomfortable

  • Go slow to move faster

  • Get small to go big

Whenever I made leaning into a paradox a priority throughout my days in 2014 I saw extraordinary things happen. When I actively chose to do the opposite of easy—picking up the phone when I wanted to not call back, sending a generous email to a stranger rather than ignoring their request—I found success, generosity, abundance, and work that I have always wanted.

Give in order to get: Radical generosity begets radical results. 

Giving generously without expectation of getting anything specific back always pays back more and in unexpected ways—even in business.

I found that the more generous of spirit I could be with clients—offering through feedback and well-thought out tools rather than quick fixes and simple observations—the more I received in return. Short-term clients became long-term clients. A single audit for a fast casual international food company turned into a month-long assignment.

Rather than hold onto an idea that sharing “trade secrets” or details of my consulting practice would lose me business, I doubled down on the paradox and wrote about my work. I wrote the first draft of a workbook for people wanting to start their own restaurant consulting practice and began the editing process.

You’re not really truly being of service unless it hurts a little…”—Unknown

2014 showed me that the more I gave of myself with friends, family, and business associates—especially if it was inconvenient or made me uncomfortable—the better the results.

Get comfortable being uncomfortable

This season I got the chance to experiment with the concept of finding power in being vulnerable. I learned to walk towards what frightened me, not run from it.

The power of vulnerability (a concept wonderfully expressed in Brene Brown’s book, The Power of Vulnerability and Daring Greatly) guided me to strengthen my personal and professional relationships by opening myself up, being more honest, and sharing my vulnerability with others.

By opening myself up to the possibilities—rather than lock down on what was familiar and comfortable—I grew more. Embracing the idea of getting comfortable being uncomfortable helped me to observe myself changing without getting too worried about the discomfort I experienced during the transformation.

Go slow to move faster

This season I was able to experience the paradox of slowing down in order to move faster numerous times. When my work felt overwhelming and daunting, I slowed down in order to work faster.

I forced myself to take breaks for food when working through lunch was a habit, and found that I was more effective on the other side of a good meal.

When the LA traffic was especially bad I accepted the situation and listened to radio podcasts, rather than beat my head against the wheel. Oddly, when I arrived at my destinations, I was relaxed and mentally charged while others were frazzled and mentally unhinged.

Get small to go big

Everyone has an ego. Ego is the “I am” voice that tells us who we are and why we do things.  Ego is what gets businesses off the ground and teams through the biggest challenges. Ego is the defining force within each of us that defines what motivates what we say and do. Our ego is what helps make us unique and defines us in the world.

Egos may be crushed, but they can not be destroyed. Egos may expand and grow too big. Big ego can be like gasoline: used the wrong way it can burn relationships and enterprises down to the ground. Keeping an ego in check can be difficult, especially in our achievement-based society.

This season I faced ego head on and looked at how to balance my ego with my desire to be humble and right-sized. Even as I sought to grow my business and improve my professional standing, I focused on being The Student, not The Expert.

I opened my mind, did my best to clear away the pre-conceptions of what “my business” is, and opened myself up to the opportunities of looking at things from a different perspective. The result: exciting and profound changes in everything I do.

It’s an inside job

This year’s dramatic theme — lean into the paradoxes — has resulted in a rich narrative life.  New and exciting storylines popped up. The pacing has been quiet, frenetic, and intense. Old (and tired) stories came to a close. Exciting character developments happened along the way. New characters were introduced, recurring ones grew in importance, and a few sadly left the show.

My role continually changed and developed throughout the season. I have been a leader, a follower, a teacher, a student, an observer and a creator of new things. I have had comedic moments as well as dramatic turns.

What has been the theme of your year?


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Food Woolf Written by:

Brooke Burton is an Los Angeles-based restaurant professional and hospitality expert. She is a freelance food writer, speaker, and co-author of The Food Blog Code of Ethics.

One Comment

  1. Norah
    June 4

    Hi Food Woolf,

    For the last 6 months, I’ve been really struggling to myself of redefine whether the restaurant consultancy is something I can pursuit or not and how. Accidentally, I came across your website and felt like light at the end of the tunnel.

    Feeling the honesty, the feeling being delivered through your writing; I can see an experienced person in front of me and feel like I can get connected with you. Love your ways of sharing and expressing these things and for sure, I would keep on following your blogs.

    Have a wonderful day. 🙂

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