I’ve spent a good deal of my first month on the new job bringing things back to a status quo, or to a sufferable minimum. I have made no ill remarks about my predecessor, but I haven’t had to. The changes have been evident to everyone who comes through the kitchen and everyone remarks positively on them. I am also executing events successfully using menus I haven’t worked with, but have to create because that’s what was sold. Basically things were both at a standstill and a downward slide when I came in, with no structure, organization, order or disciplines. I have spent almost a month fixing that. Right down to making a daily “to-do” list for the dishwashers regarding their job requirements. I was asked to do this by the Assistant General Manager, so it could be used as a training tool to help them improve. Of the 8 point list I made, the #1 item was: When they wash a dish or a glass or silverware or pot or pan, make sure all the food comes off before they put it away. If it still has food stuck to it, it is not clean, no matter how many times it went through the dishwasher (seriously had someone try to tell me they washed a pan 3X and it just wouldn’t come clean, so they just figured it would never come clean, and put it on the shelf to be reused). So I have fixed a lot of what was broken.
But if I want to make my own mark, I am going to have to go back and break a lot of things over again. Habits, for one thing. But more importantly, perceptions. There needs to be a strong break in the organizational set-up of the kitchen, but there also has to be a stylistic change. I am working with menus created by two of the most recent chefs. I’m fully competent to execute all of them, but I want to introduce my own menus, concepts, style and creative energies. This is not something I have been able to do because of the required transition period, making everyone comfortable and not shaking things up too much. But the honeymoon is approaching an end and everyone is still in love, so now is the time to break the comfortable stance everyone is in and rebuild.
I feel good about knocking things down and building things up again, partly because I’m working to embrace the concepts of being “never not broken”. Being in flux, being at times undefined and unpredictable, has a lot of value right now. And I know in my heart that the only thing that would keep me on a rigid path is fear of slipping off, fear of making a mistake, fear of exposing my lack of skills or knowledge… Fear, basically. It is not change I should be afraid of, it is stagnation and consistancy. It is not the unexpected, but the predictable I fear. In the unexpected there is great opportunity and growth and excitement. Predictable is the opposite of all that. What I feel will benefit me the most now is the freedom of impermanence, the sense of breaking it all down and choosing what gets reconstructed.
There are other parts of my life I feel like this is a good tactic to have. I cannot and will not wreck my whole life and routine just to try and reassemble it. Some permanence and consistancy is nice and beneficial right now. There is a certain demoralization that comes over me after the reaching of certain high-energy achievements. It’s almost like a fugue where I wander aimlessly, lacking a sense of purpose or direction. I’m not allowing that to happen anymore (to the extent I can control such things). Or, more correctly, I am allowing it to happen, but to realize that when I’m at that point that is the most creative, powerful, unlimited and effective I can be. It isn’t when I don’t know what comes next that should distress or scare me, it is when I do know. When I do know, I’ve reached my limits. When things are broken and the routines upset and the rails jumped… that is when I can become unlimited. When I’m unlimited, nothing is unimaginable or impossible. I shouldn’t worry about not feeling like I have a purpose or point or milepost to reach. I should be glad that I have the opportunity to choose what comes next without guidelines, expectations or definintions.
So, in my work and career, I am not content to just rebuild the walls and fortify the ramparts and get my workplace back to normal. I have to rattle the bars, tear down the walls, breach the barricades that lock me into conventionality, predictability, and safety. And from that rubble rebuild the form and structure as I see it, without limits, with an eye that nothing that lives and grows is permanent. This is true for other parts of my life, too. 7 months ago