I mentioned yesterday that growing old is still about growing.  Change doesn’t come naturally, but it is necessary if growth is to occur.

As an entrepreneur, it seems like about every six months my job description changes.  And all the changes centered on the goal of growing my business.  In the first two years, my job was hands on, baking, cooking, purchasing, and troubleshooting, every day, all day some times.  The pace was necessary for the season, but unsustainable.  It became evident that I had to change or die.

Then came a time to hire more people to help shoulder the load. The adage “spend money to make money” was correct.  The plan was succeeding.  Our business model was growing, but was soon to plateau if I didn’t find help.  With this transition came the process of handing off more responsibility, requiring me to change my role further.  I was comfortable with the day-to-day operation.  I was good at it, but I alone was limiting my growth.  For someone with a need for lots of control, this move is like looking into the abyss.  The next step would be a doozy.

There’s an old saying I recall often, “where there are no oxen, the barn is clean, but much is accomplished by the strength of the ox.”  I’m not calling my staff a bunch of oxen,but the principle idea of the proverb holds comparative wisdom.  If you want a tidy barn and less to clean up, then by all means don’t worry yourself with a herd of oxen.  They bring with them a mess that somebody has to clean up, and that somebody might be you.  But if you want to plow the fields, crush the grain, mill the sorghum, pull the cart, then get your hands on some oxen.  They can get the work done. You’ll just have to scoop more poop.

I feel so fortunate every day for the team that we assembled in the past six years.  Some have been with us from day one.  But we wouldn’t be here had I not learned how to change and evolve in my role as a chef and leader.  This is the stuff they don’t teach you in culinary school.  But they should.  Your staff is your greatest asset.  Take care of them. Acknowledge their contributions. Remind them you appreciate their work.  Your business would not run without them.

Your Turn To Clean The Barn