Chef is my favourite movie of the year so far. It tells the story of a once successful chef who gets fired and decides to take a food truck on a tour round the USA. I laughed out loud, smiled, sang along, danced in my seat and came out feeling uplifted. The movie also had some interesting lessons about life and business.
1. Are you getting a "return on passion"?
In the movie chef Casper, played by Jon Favreau, cooks in a restaurant that is successful in business terms, but not in terms of his personal fulfilment. He started out 10 years ago in a blaze of culinary creativity, but over time has got into a rut, cooking the same stuff night after night after night. The restaurant owner, played by Dustin Hoffman, wants to stick to what works. "If you go to see the Rolling Stones," he protests, "You'd be pissed if they didn't play Satisfaction!"
This reminds me of some people I've met in business. They are good at what they do and make decent money. But they are not fulfilled and no longer love what they do. They are delivering a good return on investment for their employers, but a lousy "return on passion" for themselves.
2. The "kick up the ass" moment
Sometimes you need a kick up the behind to get out of a rut, especially one that pays ok where you're performing well. In the case of chef Casper he gets a shocking review from an online critic, lamenting the loss of creativity. Casper looses the plot, verbally attacking the critic in a rant that is filmed and goes viral, making him un-employable. This forces him to start his own food truck business.
I got my own kick-start 13 years ago, when I was working for a big consultancy and lacking motivation. When my boss asked what was wrong. I said I wanted to spend more time on strategy consulting, writing and speaking and no time on managing people and the business. His blunt response was that I could either do what he needed (run the European business) or leave and do something else. The day after I resigned, and six months later the brandgym was born. I'd dreamt of having my own business for ages, but I needed a push to make the leap.
3. Re-connect with the roots of your success
As you progress through professional life you can loose touch with the things made you successful earlier in your career. Chef Casper suffers this problem, with his employer dampening his creative fire. Casper goes back to Miami where he started his cooking career, and re-discovers the spices, flavours and soul of Cuban food. This inspires the food he creates and sells from his food truck.
Look at yourself perhaps, and see how much of your time and effort is spent on managing the business versus doing the work you loved earlier in your career. Could you also benefit from re-connecting with the things that made you successful in the first place, re-igniting your professional passion like chef Casper?
I'd recommend Chef if you're in the mood for a feel-good foodie movie – click below to watch the trailer. And you never know, you might even be inspired to look at the return on passion you're getting in your life.