Nelson Millán, Executive Chef of San Antonio Country Club, believes success can be found by living the present moment wisely and intentionally.
2017 went by too fast. And yet, here we are, starting 2018 at an even quicker clip. That’s why it’s so important to take a moment and set goals for the coming year.
Some of my personal goals for 2018 include:
- Stay as healthy as possible.
- Learn in great detail about a new cuisine and culture. Visit the region where that cuisine is most popular.
- Balance my time more wisely.
- Eat more of the “healthy stuff” instead of the on-the-fly, all-day readily available things, like French fries.
On the professional and operational side, some of my goals include:
- Continue to build a versatile and strong team through more consistent, precise and intentional training.
- Make quality time to mentor the associates that show potential.
- Continue to be consciously present.
That third goal—to be consciously present—is my most important goal and philosophy. I have discovered throughout my life that being consciously and intentionally present in both my personal and professional life can go a long way toward building stronger and healthier relationships. Being present takes work with the myriad of distractions in our daily lives. But one of the most important thing we as chefs can do for ourselves, our careers, our team and for life, in general, is to be physically, emotionally, and mentally present. We must be fully focused on the now.
Too often we reward multitasking, but the opportunities for distraction are never-ending. This can make maintaining a focused connection challenging. However, developing a habit of paying attention and being focused is incredibly rewarding and very much worth the effort. It can improve the quality of your food, your kitchen and your club as well as your ability to find deeper meaning in your interactions and, ultimately, your life.
It’s easy to “be there” physically, but it takes work to be present in body, mind and soul. When I am present, I find that I am better able to notice details that otherwise I might miss.
Being present is part of my discipline as a chef and I try to instill this characteristic in the culinary staff of San Antonio Country Club each and every day.
Here are a few things I ask my crew to do on a regular basis in order to be fully present:
- Greet each person you encounter. Shake his or her hand and look into that person’s eyes for the length of the encounter.
- If you’re in the office, stop working on the computer or going through your paperwork when someone is talking to you. Whatever he or she is trying to communicate is more important at that moment.
- Walk into the kitchen from a different door or elevator every day and you will find opportunities to improve your work every single time.
- Try walking through the kitchen while only looking at the ceiling. You’ll be surprised by what you notice.
- Kneel down with a flashlight and look underneath equipment.
- Use it or Lose it! Go around and look at the artifacts, equipment or tools on the shelves. If you haven’t used them in the last six months, you don’t need it.
Being a hundred percent present at all time and every day can be a challenge, but not if you turn it into a habit. I am grateful for my crew and the way they strive to be present now and as we move further into 2018. I’m excited to see how this mindset continues to elevate our operation and ourselves. Give it a try. See how it improves you and your operation, too.