[This post was originally published on one of my blogs that is no longer live]
I’ve never been afraid to ask for help or to offer help to those who needed it. To pick the brain of those far more accomplished than myself, while giving them the opportunity to give back to someone just starting out.
It seems like a natural cycle. This cycle of giving and receiving. But, I don’t take it for granted. Because the knowledge and skills that people acquire over time don’t come without effort and investment.
Passing that investment over to a peer or a worthy apprentice is a personal gift.
When I was looking for a place to do my externship for culinary school, I knew exactly where I wanted to do it. And I drove 4 hours to New Hampshire, just to ask the owner if I could.
This was not an average bakery. It was one of those fine European pastry shops and what they were creating there exemplified what I wanted to achieve for myself as a Pastry Chef.
When I arrived, the owner was kind, modest, and hospitable, and gave me a grand tour of his impressive bakery. I think he knew I was a little awestruck because I remember he said, “Don’t look at us like we’re Gods; we just work hard and love what we do.”
Sadly, I never did end up externing there, even though he did offer me the opportunity. I took the easy way out, and externed at a local bakery.
<bows head in shame>
But, I did learn something that day about what it means to be a professional.
The presence of a pro can be intimidating, but they tend to remain humble about their craft because of the work and dedication that got them there. And because deep inside, they’re always students. Open to learning and to refining their craft even further.
I was reminded of this again when I read Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield.
“The professional refuses to be iconized. Not for selfish reasons, but because he knows how destructive the dynamic of iconization is to the iconizer. The pro will share his wisdom with other professionals – or with amateurs who are committed to becoming professionals.”
Staying grounded might be the most important thing to be aware of when giving or receiving support.
We may differ in background, education, and achievements. We have different strengths and weaknesses. But every difference is an opportunity to learn. When we use our differences to envy or iconize, belittle or condescend, then that opportunity begins to leave us.