The Missing Ingredient

My CookiesThe other day I baked cookies and as I checked on them in the oven, I noticed a problem. Rather than seeing twelve nicely formed treats, I saw what appeared to be a tray of mush. My cookies looked more like pancakes and I was flabbergasted because I had cautiously followed the instructions to a T.

“What happened?” I asked myself, “Why is it that, no matter how hard I try, I just cannot get baking right?!?” My belief that I just cannot bake was reinforced, yet again. What was I missing?

Even though the cookies looked awful, they tasted delightful, so I brought some to the office to share. In the sharing, I learned something very valuable both for my baking and for my life. I discovered the missing ingredient!

My coworker Marissa is not only a fabulous loan processor, but she is also a finely-skilled baker. She asked me one question that unlocked my limiting perspective and guided me to the missing ingredient. She asked “Was the butter you used softened or melted?” I replied that I had “put it in the microwave, so yes, it was pretty much liquid.” She explained the reason my cookies were flat was because the butter needed to be soft, not melted.

I was shocked “What!? No way!?” I had no idea that the temperature of the butter could make such a difference in baking. I finally had an accurate explanation as to why my cookies were a flop, an explanation based upon truth. It was through true understanding that I got my answer and resolved my baking limitation.

Understanding was the missing ingredient. My limited perspective that “I just can’t bake” was inaccurate. Too often, when we face a challenge or a limit, we give it a false explanation and live with the problem. All this time that limited perspective and lack of understanding kept me from searching for what I was missing. I’m not a bad baker—I was merely lacking understanding of the science behind it. This lack of understanding is why my cookies were flat!

I began to wonder where else I was lacking deep understanding and in return making false judgments? After reflecting and pondering on this revelation, what I noticed was I did it with everything—I even did it with people.

shutterstock_286118273I was once told by a wonderful man who served as a leader of a mental health organization, that all behavior (even what is often deemed as “crazy” behavior) is a person’s attempt to get a want or a need met. I’ve also heard that all unexplainable behavior has an explanation. The question is, will we put in the effort to gain that understanding or will we take the easy route and slap a label on it?

It’s a lot easier to resolve:

  • She is ridiculous.
  • He will never change.
  • She is crazy.
  • He is clueless and a jerk!

Rather than to ask:

  • I wonder what would cause him/her to react that way?
  • What does he/she really need now?
  • What’s the pain point in the conversation?
  • How am I contributing to this conflict?

It boils down to the difference between critical judgement and curious questioning. Sometimes we are more committed to making someone wrong than we are to finding solutions. We don’t have to live enslaved to that limited way of relating to others. We can make it a habit to add the missing ingredient to any issue, any problem, any frustration, or any difficult relationship. The missing ingredient works. The missing ingredient makes sense of what was once senseless.

Let’s make this a pivotal week by recognizing moments and relationships that have a missing ingredient. Let’s notice when judgment or criticism outweighs understanding. Let’s break free from those weights by seeking to understand. Remember, all behavior is a person’s attempt to get a want or need met. Remembering that, will help us add the missing ingredient, understanding. With understanding, we can work with what is in front of us, making decisions based upon truth. We will overcome any obstacle, any limitation, and any personal conflict!

With Love and Volition,