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Finding Your Thing

"The only way to do great work is to love what you do." - Steve Jobs

On his 17th Birthday, I took my son Brady to lunch.

While on the drive I asked him what he wanted to do with his life.

The answer, from a 17 year old, was a predictable, “No clue, dad.”

I asked if he had any interests, or any thoughts at all on the subject. He replied, “Maybe a diesel mechanic or welding.” Brady’s always been very good with hands on work.

I asked what he loved about those. He responded that he didn’t love them, but of the things he’d considered, they seemed like a good way to make a living.

So I asked him the same series of questions I’ve asked hundreds of other people. It’s about discovering your in-born talents. I call it, “That thing you ROCKED!” and the questions go like this:

  • Have
    you ever had an experience, be it in school, a job, or just a task you’ve
    set out to do where you felt like you in a flow state?
  • When
    time passed without notice?
  • Where
    you seemed to just know what needed to be done, like the steps of the
    process?
  • Where
    you had more energy at the end of the task than at the beginning?
  • And you
    couldn’t wait to get back and do it again?

While I was asking the questions, his face began to light up and he began to nod his head in recognition of my point.

He replied, “It’s what I do now, dad.”

He was a cook at a popular local restaurant.

“But I can’t support a family being a cook at a restaurant.”

There’s something wrong with that line of thinking that I won’t go into here. So as not to leave you hanging it’s about how most businesses have no clue about compensation. Even their compensation departments who are supposed to be good at, you know, compensation, don’t seem to know how to keep people compensated for what they do best.

Back to the subject…

I asked him to tell me more, to give me details about what he loves about being a cook, and he did.

He went on for about an hour and a half.

During the course of this, we ended up at a competing restaurant and he set about to tell me all the things they were doing right with their pizza, some of the things they could improve, and a lot about how he would do it if it were his place.

I told him he should think bigger than being a cook in a restaurant – not to change occupations, just to think bigger. Could he be a chef? Could he start his own restaurant? Could he just be happy doing what he loves without being the richest chef in the world, because, yeah, that’s still thinking bigger.

He caught fire in that moment, and I could see it on his face. He’s never looked back.

Within a few months he was the manager of that kitchen where he had been a cook. He managed the staff, the purchasing, food prep and cooking, productivity, cost control, the whole enchilada – so to speak.

A few months after that, he moved on to a more fine dining establishment where he would leave management and go back to cooking, but learn more of the art of cooking.

This past spring, he completed his training at The Park City Culinary Institute.

He moved onto one of the best restaurants in the Salt Lake City area where he is able to learn even more while working with the area’s “Chef of the Year”.

About a month ago, the chef while searching for additional talent to add to his kitchen approached the Park City Culinary Institute to inquire about any up-and-comers who might be ready.

The reply: “We don’t have anyone who is quite ready, but there’s a former student who would be perfect – Brady Houmand.”

Seems Brady found the right place.

What about you? 

Have you found your thing? Your right place?

It may be closer than you think. You might just need to ask yourself a few simple questions.

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