Competitive Cooking and Clear Focus

Food Network has become one of my favorite channels in recent months. I’m not sure why that is, and my wife regularly makes fun of me for it. Shows like Beat Bobby Flay, Restaurant Impossible, and Chopped are some of my favorite programs on television (admit it: a Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives marathon kills your productivity too).

Cooking competitions, while typically having a similar format, are always intriguing. Chefs are given an almost impossible time constraint mixed with some curveball of a challenge (like “make great tacos in 20 minutes with eel,  goat cheese, and Apple Jacks”). I think I (and others) like watching these competitions to see what the chefs will do with what is in front of them.

No matter the show, I’ve noticed one thing: doing too much almost always results in a loss. Some chefs get overconfident and try to do more than the time will allow. Yes, they finish, but their food is subpar at best. Often the winner is the one who is focused on doing a few things really well.

Sound familiar?

As a tech-loving, social media using millennial, I can be easily distracted. While I do love my iPhone, it can quickly go from a tool to a toy. And once that happens, I lose focus on what is front of me. This loss of focus almost impacts my work in a negative way.

Leaders must regularly work to define the areas that require the most focus, and then they must ruthlessly cut out everything else. This process is often referred to on food shows as “editing yourself.”  The ability to edit yourself-that is, make changes and cuts to what you are doing so that you produce only the best results-will separate you as a leader. Getting caught up on the appearance of sophistication can cause you to overlook the basics (can’t say how many times a chef will prepare a dish I can’t pronounce on Food Network, only to be told it needed salt).

Make it a priority to regularly define the areas where you need to focus most. Don’t worry about the fancy stuff. Focus on what is important, do it every day, and success will follow

What are your key areas of focus this year?

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