Mounds and mounds of bacon! Eggs, pancakes, fried potatoes and an entire area just dedicated to deserts! Ahhhh…. how I love a buffet! Yes, growing up as a fat kid has never left me and I can’t help but miss the endless trips to bottomless pit of fried chicken that so many buffets offer. But, let’s face it; we don’t go to most buffets for the quality of the food…it’s all about the quantity!
A few years ago when I was serving as the Commanding Officer of a small Naval Facility in Kansas, my staff and I would always go out to lunch on Thursdays. We would always pick a different place to experience. It was nice ritual, meant to build camaraderie and espirit de corps. One week a staff member recommended an Italian restaurant that had just shifted to serving a buffet at lunch and, succumbing to my love of buffets, we went. I could hardly wait to get there and consume my fill. I had worked out that day so I felt justified in strapping on the feedbag and going to town. As we walked in and surveyed the territory, I got particularly excited about the variety that was on the docket. Not only was there Italian food but also there was just about every kind of ethnic food imaginable…. Italian, Mexican, and even Chinese! I filled my plate and ate my fill. Was it great? No, but (asI said) buffets are about the quantity. However, going with my buffet rule of eating fast to get my money’s worth, I really didn’t care. I was alone in this. Within months, the decreased quality of food resulted in decreased business for this restaurant and they dropped their buffet. I think that most restaurants that go from serving what their best to serving everything have the same result… the overall quality goes down. The lesson I learned from this is to stop running a buffet!
The same thing has been true for me in my own life. Whenever I take on more than I can chew or refuse to say no to requests that take my time and attention, I am running a “Chip Buffet” and the overall quality of my output goes down. I can’t expect to achieve greatness when I’ve diluted the effort it takes to get that done. How about you? Have you found the same to be true? If you’re saying, “Yes” to every request, getting stressed and not doing your best work then YOU need to stop running a buffet.
If you’d like to go back to serving your best items and stop diluting the quality with a buffet, here are a few actions you can take today.
Know What You Want
When I don’t know what I want, it’slike being a ship without a rudder… I am just floating along going where the tide takes me. Without a core set of beliefs, values or targets that you’re going to follow, it’s easy to be led astray. For instance, I love spending time with my kids but I love working. It wasn’t until my youngest son had to finish a sentence in a homework assignment that read “My Dad’s favorite thing is ______” and he filled the blank in with “be on his computer” that it hit home that I wasn’t keeping balance. Now that I am aware…when the kids are home the computer is off of the buffet!
Serve Your Best Items
Colonel Sanders makes chicken. That’s what he does best! (Admittedly, right now, just thinking about his 11 herbs and spices makes me want to get a bucket but I have to finish this thought). What do you serve up best? What are the things that only you do? For me, I am okay trying new things (like when the Colonel tried making Ribs) to see if it’s in my talent base but, normally, I know what I am good at and work to hone those skills more. I also know what I am not good at and will happily not do those things. I can spend countless hours on items that can be done quicker and mo’ better by those whose talents are suited to those tasks. That frees me up to focus on serving up what I serve best. Know where your talents lie and serve it up!
Learn to Say No
At the core of my being is a person who is a pleaser and likes to help people out. It’s a huge part of how I live my life and how I view myself. That being the case, it can be hard for me to say no. This can cause me to be spread thin on time when requests come in for me to help. If you have already decided what you want and are going to serve your best items, then you will know when to say no. When you do have to say no, do it honestly and with explanation. I have found that real friends understand and respect that MUCH MORE than excuses. Give yourself the gift of time by learning to say no.
In the end, I’d much rather be known for doing well what I love than for doing a lot of things pretty good. But, unfortunately, when we run a buffet that’s what happens. We can’t do anything one thing REALLY well because we’re too busy doing many things okay. Pare down, know what you want and “just say no” so you can serve up the best, be the best, and stop running a buffet.