Recipe for Success
“Find something you’re passionate about and keep
tremendously interested in it.”
Say that quote out loud. Now try it with a British accent. Now a British accent with a couple marbles in your mouth.* Why? Because this is a Julia Child quote, of course, you ninny!
Many of us gaze at success with this dreamy, someday look in our eyes like it’s something that is granted, reserved for the elite, or stumbled upon. Truth is, success is more like a (very small) nugget of gold that only comes into focus because you’re face-down in the muck you’ve created by chasing it. But first, the definition! I’m not going to quote Webster or Dictionary.com as I so love to do. This is your chance. If you’re reading the digital version, copy the following down on paper and fill it in yourself.
Create as many definitions as you’d like. Unfortunately, I cannot do it for you. If you went directly to the dictionary to complete the task, I have more unfortunate news. The words, synonyms, alternatives, and examples in a sentence cannot possibly encompass your version of success. Before you jump on social media, looking to all the people you follow and their interpretation of what success looks like (filter and all), let me save you just a little heartache and a lot of time-suck. Even those crowned successful by society cannot (must not) define success for you. With the “easy way out” removed, let’s get face-down in the muck together.
Every good recipe (and even the bad ones) starts with ingredients. Muck can be made up of a lot of stuff, so there is a variety from which to choose. Please just understand that it’s no “one ingredient” that creates that nugget any more than a “Life in Three Easy Steps” self-help book. Once again, you determine the ingredients. Maybe your ingredients look a little like mine…
A teaspoon of grit (Because I got out of bed today.)
A half-cup of perseverance (Because I made my bed again though it clearly should be making itself by now)
A pinch of self-control (Because I refrained from cursing an inanimate object)
Four cups of grace (Because I did curse an animate object)
Muck consists of the things we want in our recipe as well as the things we don’t but I’d be willing to bet that my nuggets of success are full of the “don’t wants.” I’m not saying that two wrongs make a right. I’m saying that a lot of hard experiences can add up to a little wisdom. And wisdom isn’t so much an ingredient as a chemical reaction, the combination of mistake, learning, and application. “Oops!, Ohhh (ding!), and Ah-ha!” The good news is (after all those “unfortunatelys”), wisdom can be granted, bestowed, and reserved for those who simply ask. God really enjoys handing out chemical reactions. I can tell by the way He smiles at my “Ah-has!”
Your ingredients are whatever you have on hand: instances of laughter, tears, frustrations, victories, secrets, public humiliations, and simple pleasures. List them here:
There will be more than four.
Give a small can of Play Doh to each child in a class of preschoolers and ask them to make a circle. If they haven’t been influenced by what their parents, teacher, or peers believe a perfect circle looks like, the renditions are fascinating and diverse. One child efficiently slices the can-shaped cylinder into several circles. Another rolls the entire lump of clay into a rope then forms a round shape. Still another painstakingly presses the edges of the cylinder and uses their palms to mold a seamless sphere while another is satisfied with a sketchy oval. The child at the next table wonders why they have to make a stupid circle, slams the clay on the table smashing it with the can, and suddenly recognizes the imprint of a circle. Then you have the child that watches their peers for most of the class, looks back at their unopened can and thinks, “That is a circle.”
If you’ve done any cooking, you know that the directions- the order, the manner, the timing- is very important, very specific, and determined by some other Fount of Knowledge. The Play Doh analogy applies when you, yes you, decide how you follow them. You may combine the ingredients in such a way that is efficient, creative, perfectionistic, half-a**ed, angry, or complacent. The only common factor is time. Some recipes require less time than others, but there is no such thing as a “no-bake” success. In my experience, some of my directions read,
Bake at 400 degrees for 4 years, then broil for 18 months. Let cool for 479 days before serving.
Combine ingredients, kneed for ten months, and rest for another 8,760 hours, or until firm.
The waiting portion of the directions is generally the most difficult for me. Like I tell our kids “It’s not easy but it’s worth it.” The good news?
Your directions are specifically designed to forge the nugget out of the muck.
More good news: You are the one who decides there is a nugget in all that muck. You get to call the creation a success- not your family or your friends or your boss or your coach, not even Julia Child.
It isn’t going to look like the circle of the preschooler sitting next to you. Or what’s in your neighbor’s driveway (or barn where I’m from). Or the achievement of that person you follow on Instagram.
It is amazingly, beautifully, your success. And you get to create as many as you want.
Here’s the surprising part of the recipe, as if three different analogies in one blog isn’t enough.**
Your recipe’s serving size? One.
If that one is yourself, eat up. Success is gone before you know it and is not at all satisfying. Keep that nugget for yourself and the accumulation only weighs you down.
If that one is God, the Maker of the Directions, that success will serve generations and the nugget surrendered to Him is used to make your crown.
I’ll quote Julia again. “Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.” That could be considered a success. Or how about King Solomon? He found a few nuggets. “For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless.” Proverbs 2:6-7
Do we need to revisit our definitions?
As a bonus, I’ve compiled a few recipe highlights/post captions for you!
Appreciate the ingredients.
Trust the directions.
Enjoy the muck.
Relish the nugget.
Serve the One.
What are you going to call the cookbook? Compilation of Combinations. Daily Dish. How about “Life”?
*Not literally. This author and her affiliates do not encourage nor condone such foolish behavior. For illustration purposes only. Do not try the marble thing at home.
**The cooking/recipe analogy, the nugget in the muck analogy, and the Play Doh analogy, though that applied more to one section rather than the entire theme. Still, I counted three.