I remember overhearing a conversation late one night while I was working in a professional kitchen. It would have been hard not to "overhear" because the chef's voice rang through the polished stainless steel kitchen:
"It doesn't matter how good it is if it's not consistent! And that's probably the most inconsistent dish that comes out of this kitchen!"
His critique was of course aimed at a cook responsible for said dish. And as much as the criticism stung, she knew it was true (as long as you weren't counting the dishes I was responsible for). When the pass (where the dishes are plated and picked up by the front of house staff) is out in the open for everyone to see, everyone sees everyone's work.
Before coming to a kitchen, I had no idea how much the culinary world values consistency. As a diner, I'd evaluate a nice restaurant by going to it once, then likely not returning for several months, often being welcomed by a brand new menu. This is very different than how Michelin's elite (and secretive) team of restaurant inspectors think—a group whose rating can float or sink a restaurant overnight.
"Consistency of culinary standards" is one of the few known criteria of the Michelin inspectors. For this reason, when making a star decision, inspectors will often visit an establishment over...and over...and over, ordering the same or similar dishes. It's been shared that a one star restaurant will receive four anonymous inspections before it can gain its second star and a two star location will receive ten before receiving the highest award of three stars.
“When we award a star, we want to be sure the restaurant can carry it off over the long run." - Michael Ellis, International Director Michelin Guide
The Michelin organization is interested in the greats, not the one-hit wonders. We should be too.
When thinking about personal performance, it's easy to get lost in one-hit-wonder-type goals: complete an Ironman, lose 5 pounds, get a promotion. These are all perfectly fine goals, but we get "lost" in them by losing sight of the fact that these goals are all manifestations of sustained long-term high performance: An Ironman, sustained high performance in endurance training; a (lasting) weight-loss, sustained high performance in either intake (food) or output (exercise); a promotion, sustained high performance in corporate responsibilities.
As such, we get much more value out of the shorter-term goal if we take time to acknowledge what "piece" it plays in the bigger picture. Or as Will Durant said famously:
Repositioning for Consistency
Active time to complete: 3 min
What's one short-term goal or to-do list on your plate right now? Double clicking into that item, what's the deeper theme at play and how can you be more conscious of it when you accomplish the shorter-term goal? Are there other things you could do that would also help support the deeper theme?
An example for me is getting this post out the door at a state where I'm proud of it. But it's connected to a longer term goal (that I've fallen short of a couple times) of providing consistent actionable content to those who have chosen to trust me with a little piece of their inbox.