You have all heard the phrase “think outside the box”, right? We say it to indicate the importance of creative thinking and going beyond boundaries and limits to come up with better solutions. Unfortunately, it has become a cliche – something true that gets overused and becomes stale and meaningless. We need to throw out the box and find a new way to express the same thought.
I came up with the term “cook without a recipe”. In my culinary experience, I have many times drastically altered recipes. Sometimes because of lacking some ingredients and sometimes by design. One of the first desserts I made – a fudge ribbon cake – I made three times each time different. The third time I made it the end result looked exactly like the recipe envisioned because I had all the recipe ingredients, but each time I made it it was just as good.
Later I took to experimenting with certain additions to recipes and then when I learned the basic chemistry and physics of cooking I went further. I began to choose ingredients based not on a recipe but on the processes I knew towards an end product I wanted. I cooked without a recipe – and now I often do that. It doesn’t work every time, but more often than not I get a fair result and learn something new in the process. Even the failures teach me.
This is what is important about being a leader. You need a sense of experimentation and risk-taking. You need to leave behind the boundaries of tradition and strive for something new. If you don’t experiment you will never know what you can achieve. Trust the building blocks of your education and training and then go beyond the barriers.
The key is thinking of the end first – what do you want to achieve. And then work backward- in some fields it is called reverse engineering. Allow yourself to think of new ways to get from where you are to where you want to go. It’s like finding a new route to a destination -which is what we will discuss next. Meanwhile, try to make dinner tonight by tossing together different ingredients in a new way – and challenge yourself to throw out the box and cook without a recipe.