“So how do you relate your cooking problems to leadership?”   You might be suprised to hear that I’ve heard this question more than once from those who know of my frustrating and disastrous experiences as a noncook.  I can’t boil eggs—literally!

The answer to the question about cooking and leadership is–a lot.  In another era of my life, I spent hours trying to cook something edible every night, succeeded rarely, feeling like a failure often. Then, I stopped trying (except occasionally which always proved I should stay out of the kitchen) and focused on the many skills I have in other areas.  I also found a partner who would accept me for what I was and was not.  This gave me the freedom to develop my skills and to compensate for my “weaknesses” (i.e., psychological traits and energies over which I have no control.)

The ultimate understatement is that I am NOT a detail person. Good cooking requires attention to detail—in planning, shopping and preparing–or suffer the consequences.  I get bored easily. Good cooking requires the ability to focus on  the task at hand and ignore boredom. While I envy the joy and wonderful outcomes of my friends who are great cooks, I’ve stopped beating myself up over a talent that simply eludes me.

Now in my second career, as an executive coach and trainer, I am in hog heaven (without having to cook the hog.) Why? Because I am doing only things that I am good at, love to do and that consequently, create no stress. I repeat. NO STRESS.

I wonder how much happier and less stressed I might have been if I had chosen my first career in a field that required more of my natural talents: creativity, multi-tasking and idea-generating, to name a few. Not that my jobs have not required all of those. But the other requirements such as budgeting, oversight and tracking wore me down, leaving little time or energy for the fun stuff.

So? So after 30 plus years as a working adult, I have finally found my niche, and I’ve never been happier or less stressed. (I think there is a relationship between those two!)

What lessons have you learned along the way to make you a better leader?