How Do Baking and Conflict Management Mix?

I have always had a love/hate relationship with baking and cooking.  Though I come from a long line of amazing bakers and cooks, I did not inherit that gene!  Case in point I was raised in the Midwest where I was involved with 4H, a youth organization that promotes responsibility through “learning by doing”.  During the annual county fair, I decided to enter a coffee cake in the baking contest.  I took great care in following the directions.  Once I took it out of the oven, I was concerned it would dry out before the judges tasted my entry.  Without consulting any of the wonderful bakers in my family, I covered this precious coffee cake with plastic wrap shortly after I took it out of the oven.  Needless to say it got soggy.  I received a “C” white ribbon instead of the “A” blue ribbon I was going for.

Despite this mishap, I have continued to experiment with baking over the years and this weekend had the good fortune of receiving some much needed lessons from my good friend Donna who is truly an artist when it comes to baking and cooking.  She taught me how to make homemade crescent rolls.

Here are a few things I realized I have been doing wrong all these years: 

  • When measuring flour – don’t pack it down!
  • When working with yeast – give it the environment to rise (warmth, time, space)
  • When unsure – ask for help by someone who knows what they are doing!

So what does all this have to do with our usual topic of leading more mindfully and creating the conditions of a positive work culture?

  • When addressing a challenging person – listen more than packing your words into the conversation to get your point across
  • When introducing a new idea or change – give others the space to see the benefit;  a secure base of trust allows people to take risks and grow beyond their fears of the unknown
  • When in unfamiliar territory of conflict management – seek the wisdom of a coach and/or trusted mentor who emulates the kind of leader you want to be.  Someone who helps you to see things from a positive perspective and whose presence brings out the best in you and others.

In Malcolm Gladwell’s best-selling book Outliers, his research unveiled that in order to master a new skill you need 10,000 hours of practice.  His position was that if you put in enough time, you will become proficient in your new endeavor.   I would add to that it’s not just the practice.  For years I’ve been baking.  Without the guidance of an experienced teacher, I have had many failures of burnt, hard, and flat bread!  The difference is making sure you are practicing correctly and resourcing someone who will teach you how to handle the nuances of challenges you face.  Then your practice is more likely to lead to enhanced skill and mastery!

Make the Conscious Choice to learn from a seasoned expert and practice, practice, practice to increase the likelihood of mastery in new skills!