Angel Biscuits

Our mistakes and regrets are not barriers to becoming who we can be; they are a necessary ingredient.”  David Schnarch, Ph.D.

I do not drink buttermilk.  Just the thought of consuming this beverage is unpleasant.  The last time I took a sip of this thick liquid was so long ago that I can’t actually remember specifics. But, the experience permanently sealed in my brain that this was not a drink for me.  I only know one person who ever drank this stuff – my mom, who was probably the influence in my trying it once.

As unpalatable as buttermilk may be for some people, it is a prime ingredient in many recipes, like angel biscuits, a fantastic recipe my mother served throughout her life, passing it onto my sisters and me. Mom drank buttermilk. She also mixed it into many of her culinary delights. These special biscuits are a big hit whenever we have huge family gatherings.  One family member will come into the kitchen while I am mixing the flour and dry ingredients and ask the question I have heard so many times: “Are you making angel biscuits?”   It has become a winner in my immediate family.  Mom would be proud!

For someone who does not care for buttermilk, I sure do love the biscuits created by a recipe in which this sour-tasting substance is essential.  Do you have a recipe that requires an ingredient for which you do not have much affection?  There are lots of edible elements incorporated into our recipes, and, if served alone might not be on our list of favorites. I am not a fan of okra served as a side vegetable, but do love gumbo containing okra. My wife Carol does not like mirliton (part of the squash family), unless it is stuffed using a recipe created by one of my aunts. Add seasonings into this discussion and the list for less tasteful food grows.  I would not eat condiments like pepper and salt alone; and there is no way I would ingest certain Cajun seasonings (despite my Louisiana heritage), that I actually liberally use on the grill. Yet, the welcomed outcome of culinary treats such as these is dependent on seasonings to make the difference.

What about the ingredients that are vital in the recipes of our lives? We probably find many of them less than exciting. The college student loves the academic degree that provides an opportunity for a career with many benefits.  But, that same student may not care for the inevitable demands in pursuit of that goal – required studying, weekly class attendance, research papers, or even perhaps one particular teacher who is the only instructor in that course curriculum.  There are many ingredients comprising a college education that determine a successful outcome.  At some point, every student will have one element that is not to his liking, even though his success depends on it.

Successful companies and organizations need the combined effort of many departments.  Sales, IT, HR and Operations – each discipline plays a significant role. Sales divisions are needed for bringing in new customers; IT for providing timely information and analysis; HR for ensuring adherence to federal and state mandates, policies and current laws; and then the Operations team who actually performs the work for which we get paid. The various departments are not just needed – they are essential.  Yet, invariably there is someone who may not understand and appreciate the importance of a particular division. This attitude is common in most companies large enough to have separate departments.  Do you lack appreciation for any certain area in your organization?

Results – whether in professional work or in the food we enjoy – are what we treasure and appreciate.  When my family is savoring my angel biscuits, they never mention the vital ingredient of buttermilk.  They talk about the final result.  But, I know the buttermilk makes a huge difference in the outcome.

When the company deposits the customer check in the bank, the final resulting profit allows the company to provide jobs for all the employees.  Profits, employee benefits and customer satisfaction may represent the desired results, outcomes everyone can appreciate.  Achieving such successes require the special gifts and talents of many people, within numerous departments.  Final products are made up of a multitude of ingredients, all essential, but unfortunately, not always appreciated.

What about your own personal success?  Being and becoming the best at what you are meant to be and do in life.  What ingredient is the one that you least like to mix into your effort, but yet is essential?  Which component is a task that is hard for you to do, but necessary? Which element represents a skill that you have not yet developed, but is needed?  Do you currently have a missing ingredient?  If added into the mix, would it make a major difference in your progress?

Missing Ingredients?  How about these?

  • Asking the right questions
  • Modern technology
  • Great relationships
  • Good communication
  • Leadership

This is not a complete list, but perhaps can serve as a springboard that inspires new thinking.  If you are currently not making adequate progress in your projects, goals, family, company or job, it could be because of that one, essential missing ingredient. What is it? You can ask those who are close to you for a suggestion. You also can use your own counsel.

What is my personal solution process?  A very simple and yet powerful formula that I have implemented successfully over 40 years. It really works!  Using the simple tool of an 8.5 x 11 writing pad, I first write down the name of the project, goal, job or issue, and then jot down a few key questions like the following:

  1. What is not working? Why is it not working?
  2. What is the most significant thing standing in my way to making this work?
  3. If I did one thing in the next 30 days that would result in significant progress, what would it be?

My approach is very basic:  focus on what is not working and what I need to do to make it work. Focus on one single thing that will make the most difference.  You may be surprised in your ability to answer your own questions.  Often, we know what is wrong. We even know how to fix it.  We are just reluctant, for a variety of reasons, to put a name to the issue.  But, in the very core of our hearts, we know the answer.  You just know.  It’s that “gut sense” we have about life.  Does this sound right to you?

In 40 years of using this problem-solving process, one pivotal fact has emerged.  Critical to every successful solution is one key ingredient. I may list several issues on my brainstorming pad. I may write multiple pages of important information.  There may be numerous details. But, in the end, when the dust has settled, one main factor always emerges as the largest issue.  If I concentrate on the one item, I can make rapid progress on the entire project.  One sole issue – one main element – one missing component, alone can impede positive progress in most personal goals, issues, family problems or job challenges.

What is the current one ingredient in your life that needs to be added to what you are doing? What is the one factor holding up your progress?  What one element will make the most difference in your career, family, or goal within the next year?

What one thing could you do this week to make progress on the one missing ingredient? Name it. Start today to add it into your life!

I do not like buttermilk . . . but . . . I love angel biscuits!