In celebration of our country’s greatness, I took to the grill to regale my family with my smoking prowess. The table was set for delicious pulled pork, my personal specialty.
Usually my pulled pork is a sacred ritual that begins the night before. I buy a fresh cut of meat, rub in my blend of spices and let the meat cure overnight. Good pork is worth waking up early for – even on a holiday weekend. So I meet the morning early to get a full ten hours of slow-smoking, low-heat magic on. The result is unmatched deliciousness.
This time I was very busy and unable to pick up the meat the night before. I told myself I’d wake up early to hit the store, but the morning came and went and I found myself settling for a prepackaged cut around noon. “Still plenty of time,” I thought, “I’ll just cook at a little higher temperature.”
I rushed home, rubbed on my spices and stuck in the fridge to cure for a few minutes. As I was lighting the grill I remembered that my indirect heating plate was broken. “I’ll just use direct heating at a lower setting,” I thought. Around 5:30 my kids were famished, and squealing like little pigs. But the meat was nowhere near done, so I cranked the heat.
About an hour and a half later we had a full-scale mutiny on our hands; the meat was still not at a perfect temperature. I called it close enough and pulled it off.
As I cut into it my heart sank. What should be falling apart easily was tougher than ham! The direct contact with the flame charred a layer of crust on the bottom like a cooled lava field. It was awful. Do you know how humiliating it is to have your grilling critiqued by an eight year old?
Later that night I reflected on what went wrong and the answer was not hard to find. I had a tried and true process that works time after time and I ignored it. The shortcuts I told myself I could take led to a subpar product which not only wasted my time, but also my money (we threw it out!).
There’s a business lesson here.
How many times in your business do you know exactly what you should do, and what sacrifices need to be made, only to ignore them and take the easy road? How often does it work out? Often times the things that will make the most impact in our businesses are not easy. They take sacrifice, sweat and determination. We’ve fought these battles before, but ignore our lessons and the roadmap we’ve already bought through sweat and tears.
I vowed that night to never bypass a proven process again. If the time allotted does not allow me to do my best work I will wait until it does. I also vowed to be more deliberate in making sure the endeavors I embark upon at work are getting 100% of my effort and energy. When I screwed up the pulled pork, the effect was embarrassing, but manageable. If I take the easy road in my business, our team will not be so lucky.