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Change Learning New Recruitment

A Recipe and some Magic at Christmas

The oven thermostat clicked and registered two hundred degrees centigrade, the heat warmed John’s bottom as he rested his elbows on the work counter and studied the recipe. Flour, sugar, butter, teaspoon of vanilla essence, a touch of milk. Everything seemed to make sense, even to someone who’d never made a cake before. John adjusted his apron, a rather snazzy blue polka dot with a red trim and tightened the knot.

“Right let’s go” he mused to himself.  “Heat the butter mix in the rest, don’t forget the egg. Yes, this is ‘a piece of cake’. Oh, so that’s where that phrase comes from”. His mind buzzed happily along.
 
“How are you doing honey” called Mary from the living room, where she was writing Christmas cards. She smiled to herself, what was going on, John had never baked a cake before and it was for the family party coming up too. Redundancy had seemed like a disaster at the time, but now she was really enjoying having him around. The same person who she’d married, the man who smiled, laughed, whistled as he put the dustbins out and jived around the lounge with her to their favourite songs.
 
“Great, great, but there’s something here I don’t understand. Can you come and help me”. John peered at the recipe, looked back to mixing bowl, then back to the book. His forehead furrowed, he squinted, he scratched his head and sucking a deep breath in, exhaled loudly.
 
“What, really, no, no way” John muttered to himself. He turned the page and studied the next recipe. Just the same. “What the heck, why, how, who”. He flicked quickly through the hundreds of recipes, there it was on every page.
 
“What does it mean Mary ‘add a bit of magic and mystery’, where in the cupboard is magic? According to this I need 20 millilitres of it for my cake”. Mary came through to the kitchen smiling to herself, she pulled open the cupboards, she searched through the drawers, picking up and putting down packets and bottles.
 
 “Nothing here honey, maybe we’d better go to the store and buy some more, or maybe we can get some online”. She looked at him, her head to one side, her eyes sparkling. John gazed back.
 
“Is it like a liquid then, do you get it in a bottle?”
 
“Almost honey, it’s a thing my grandmother used a lot, it kinda gets passed down the family line I think. Maybe it’s a female thing but I don’t think so, not if you’re reading it in the recipe there”’. She smiled and looked at him with love, compassion and care. “Any good recipe always has some secret ingredients, something that makes it unique, the touch of the person who is making the cake, perhaps a little more of one thing than another, maybe an extra egg, the oven one degree hotter. Cooking has science, you can follow the instructions, but then something else happens, the mysterious piece. Sometimes a cake rises, or tastes great, other times it doesn’t and mostly we don’t know why. So what’s your magic?”   
 
“What my magic, my own magic” John looked confused and concerned. “I’ve never even baked a cake before, can’t I just follow the instructions, won’t that work?”
 
“Yes sure, but as my grandmother said, just add a bit of yourself in some way. Maybe in how you stir the mix, fold in the flour, sprinkling some granulated sugar on top. Or, just do the whole thing with a good spirit and thinking of those who’ll be eating it later – our kids, your mum – and wishing them well as you cook”.
 
“Right got it, okay let’s see”. He rubbed his hands together and taking the wooden spoon, tapped the side of the bowl three times and sang his favourite Elvis Presley song (using the spoon as a microphone) as he poured the mix into the tin. He slid the cake into the oven, licked the spoon clean, threw it in the sink, pulled Mary to him and danced her round the kitchen to a fine rendition of Love me Tender.
 
The family party was a great success, that first cake a great hit with everyone. John wanted to bake more afterwards and did. He followed recipes, but always remembered the mysterious bit, the magic. Didn’t assume it would just happen, wasn’t sure what particular thing made the difference, but always respected, included, and welcomed mystery into his cooking and into his life.
 
Two weeks later, after a very interesting interview which John had prepared well for and then following his intuition, had a good free flowing discussion in the meeting –  he was offered a great job and just a fifteen minute commute from home. Mary and John jived that evening to every Elvis hit they knew.
 
Grahame Pitts
December 2015
 
Postscript:
Thank you Michael for this great analogy of cake making in relation to getting a job. In the recruitment process hard work, clarity of thought, good presentation, etc are all vital. Then sometimes, something else happens – a relationship clicks, your experience fits exactly the job requirement, your suggestions spark a new thought for the recruiters. Or even, their business has a change of direction just the next day and calls you up later with an offer (this one happened to me).  
 
And of course a recipe and mystery applies elsewhere too. A well, thought through plan being delivered in the detail, suddenly accelerates when an opportunity comes along which seems unconnected but complements and delivers the strategy perfectly. 

So, be professional, disciplined and organised and then maybe, welcome mystery and magic and let both work for you. These partners want to share the action and after all it is Christmas, so why not!