What ingredients are in your cake? We’ve all heard that we can’t have our cake and eat it, too. We throw this quip around to mitigate our disappointment and lower our expectations. This is another example of a limiting belief that is not serving us. After all, cake is yummy. Do whatever you want with it.
Mike Agugliaro of CEOwarrior.com started his presentation at Profit Con by challenging us to ask ourselves, “What if what I’m telling myself is not true?”
What if we can have our cake and eat it, too?
This is the fifth chapter in our series on the journey of leadership and becoming Warrior Strong. Either you got here by reading the first three, or you got here by Googling “Ingredients.” If you are in the latter group, I really recommend that you check out the first four installments: Warrior Strong, Taking Initiative, Conditioning, and Facing Demons. There is some pretty intense back-story that you don’t want to miss.
The last leg of this marathon was pretty intense, so I’m going to go easy on you in this chapter. It will be a piece of cake… or maybe a cake walk… The analogies could get out of control if we let them.
A handful of years ago a read a great book for teens by Ben Mikaelsen called Touching Spirit Bear. This book contains one of the most powerful analogies I have ever found. Mikaelson compares life to a cake. No one really wants to eat each of the ingredients on their own. That would be gross. However, when we put them together in the right proportions and apply some heat, the resulting whole is much greater than the sum of the parts.
In the same way, each of our experiences as children and young adults has led us to where we are today. If we waste time and energy trying to remove or forget about any of these experiences, that detracts exponentially from our full potential.
Boring flour, embarrassing egg, salt in our wounds, and the bitter disappointment of unsweetened cocoa are no fun. Individually, none of the ingredients in the cake are very appealing. Baking soda by itself tastes pretty nasty, even in small quantities, but without it a cake is flat and hard. The leavening is most important in hindsight.
Finding the Balance
As you have joined me on this journey so far, you have gotten a look at some of the ingredients that make me who I am. For me, 4th grade was the spoonful of sugar that made the medicine go down, but in hindsight the specifics of that general happiness don’t stand out as clearly as the sharp pains of other ingredients.
It’s easy to say that we want our lives to be all sweetness and warmth, but really that doesn’t make a very good cake. Remember, without conflict the story has no plot.
The tricky thing in any recipe is finding the right balance of ingredients. While cooking is chemistry at it’s finest, it’s not an exact science. Too much or too little of anything, and it throws things off. The nice thing about the cake of life is that we have plenty of time to perfect and tweak the recipe.
Letting Go of Ingredients
I am so blessed to have a variety of great coaches and mentors in my life. This past week, after my call with Mike, I had the opportunity to attend a retreat with my coach, Loren Fogelman of BusinessSuccessSolution.com. One of the key focuses of this retreat was on the power of letting go. Loren asked us to pinpoint something that was hindering our progress, write it out, and then rip it up.
This is a powerful exercise that I have done many times. This time, I had a different experience with it.
I thought about my fear of judgments from others. I considered my concern over their thoughts, feeling, reactions, and how they perceive, think about, talk about, and act toward me in response to what I say and do. As I wrote these things out, my intuition spoke up. I wasn’t ready to let go of these. There was more I had to learn from these experiences. Simply removing them from my cake would throw off my balance.
The Salt of Life
Too much of anything can be a bad thing. Did the salt spill into your cake batter bowl? Sometimes our first inclination is to throw out the whole cake and start over again. When this happens, we wallow in our salty batter feeling sorry for ourselves instead of heading to the store. Knowing what ingredients we have in abundance helps us to call in the other things we need in life. When all of the ingredients are in proportion, the batter tastes good.
I took a look at these fears of mine, and I decided to embrace them instead of getting rid of them. When life throws you lemons, grab the salt and the tequila. Why throw out perfectly good ingredients? Who cares that they’re made of my least favorite parts of life? It would be better to put them to good use. Waste not, want not. I knew deep down that this could help me grow, just like how fertilizer can help plants. (We all know what fertilizer is made of.)
Sometimes the cake doesn’t turn out how we originally planned, and we need to change the recipe part way through. New recipes are created through mistakes and experimentation. Too much salt? Have you tried salted caramel?
Embracing and Confronting Fear
We are on the home stretch of our marathon. In our next chapter, we’re getting into the meat of my call with Mike, and we are hitting fear itself. The fantastic Joe Woodard defines confrontation as “A positive interaction with a momentary negative emotional response.” Are you ready to confront your fear?