Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Backward thinking – Forward thinking.

Backward thinking – Forward thinking.

Working as a Chef for the last twenty-odd years has given me advantages which I would like to pass on to my son.  These ideas have helped me day-to-day and continue to propel me forward.  Where to begin?

When I was growing up, my mother and step-father taught me by bad example that “any task worth doing, isn’t worth completing”.  The farm was littered with junk cars.  The house was never clean.  Budgets were always broken, causing a runaway debt.  Any “legacy” was spent before it was received.  Great lessons for anyone.

When I first moved out on my own, I lived meagrely.  I took over a two bedroom suite from a friend.  At the time, this took up more than half of my budget.  I was working full-time in a popular downtown restaurant, Naval Reserv-ing part-time and overjoyed to be alone in a very sparsely furnished pad.  I loved the solitude.  Eventually I got some roommates to share the costs.  But to spite my early upbringing, I never let the apartment become a mess.  Junk  was never allowed to accumulate.  And budgeting became second nature.  I never had a credit card.  (I got my first credit card after I bought the house with your mother!)

While working as a Cook, you learn that the best part of the job is after the clean-up, when you sit down in the closed restaurant with a cold drink in your hand.  It’s like the feeling you get after the last hill on a roller-coaster, just as you head into the station.  It’s that un-named “Ahh”.  To get there in one piece when all the customers leave happy, you don’t have any knife-wounds or burns, and the pretty waitresses smile at you with gratitude: This is the best.  To get to this point, requires planning.

To this end, the end with ”cold drinks and pretty waitresses”, you need to think backwards.  Backwards?  “What do you mean?” you ask?  Let’s take this in steps.

Thinking backwards:

1.     Drinks, Sitting and Waitresses (Goal!)

2.     Clean-up of kitchen

3.     Last order (including time check)

4.     Dinner service

5.     Kitchen set-up

6.     Prep and specials (daily menu specials)

7.     Sign in and change into uniform.

This outlines how I started to look at my day.  I looked forward to the positive end of the day.  I looked forward to the best part, but to do that I had to think backwards as how to get there.  Then I would simply reverse the order of these tasks and assign a time limit for each.

For example:

1.     Sign in and change into uniform – 3 min.

2.     Prep and specials (daily menu specials) – 1 hour

3.     Kitchen set-up – 10 min.

4.     Dinner service – 6 hours

5.     Last order (including time check) – 5-10 min.

6.     Clean-up of kitchen – 20 min.

7.     Drinks, Sitting and Waitresses (Goal!) – Unlimited!

When you start to break each work day into parts such as this list, and as you become more proficient at each task, you can shorten the time it takes for each (ok… not things like the ‘dinner service’ part!).  As you shorten the time it takes for each task, you can then insert a bit more ‘flair’ or pride in the task.  As you have more pride in your work, others will notice.  Others who mean something!  Others who will recommend you for promotion, or who choose to be with you. 

This idea can be inserted into any part of your life!  I have used this to plan out the basics of my entire life!  Planned from today to my retirement and even my death (how morbid!)  I have even imagined what legacy I can create for my grandkids (not having any from my parents).

I have tried to imagine ways that would best suit the future “Morgan Ondas”... my son; his kids.  I wish I had the support of a wise family member who focussed me into a real career.  Not that there’s anything wrong with what I have, but, there are paths that I should have taken perhaps.  I have seen people waste their talents, time and sometimes money searching for a career that is beyond their reach or unattainable because of the lack of “Friends” in the right circles.  I’ve also seen my parents try to schmooze with the High Mucky-mucks and fail bitterly.

The failure of many who I have met usually goes with this adage: “People don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan”.  How exceedingly true.  Plan any major thing in your life.  First, what is a plan? 

“A set of Intended actions, through which one expects to achieve a goal”, says one dictionary.  Therefore we need to have a “goal” to focus these “intended actions” upon.  Goal… goal… what is the goal?  Before I start out on any Idea, I first think strongly about what I want. 

My life has evolved into a basic desire to ensure that I have left a legacy of a strong future for my family; my present family.  Nami, Hyoga and myself.  This is my family.  I also would like to imagine that Hyoga will marry and produce two worthy children.  If I can create enough wealth to educate my grandchildren, live a happy life with Nami, travel occasionally and die knowing this will happen… This is my goal.  The realization that higher education for Hyoga is not feasible for us hurts me, but I have accepted this.  I feel that “if you aren’t able to do it right, don’t do it at all”.  For me this means if I can’t send him to school to become a Doctor or a Lawyer, then don’t.  I won’t hold up this carrot and stick to him.  I tell him how sorry I am, but I won’t lie to him.  If I can do this for his children, however, I will.

The goals of a ten-year old boy may include a daily dose of PS2, bike riding with the neighbour and dinner, but his dream of becoming a pilot can and will be nurtured.  From my brief stint with Canada’s military I constantly kick myself, especially this year.  This year, I turn 44.  This is the year that I would have retired had I joined the Military when I was 19.  I would retire, start a second career; earn a pension and a wage.  If I had known.  Well, I do know!  My boy wants to be a pilot?  They have pilots in the Air Force.  There.  I have set him a goal.  Even if he doesn’t “get it” yet.  Even if he despises me later, I believe this will be the best for him.

Here’s a Goal Chart from me (the controlling father) to the boy. 

My “Hyoga Goal”:

1.     I die happy - (at 88 yrs in 2053)

2.     Hyoga Starts Flying for JAL or Air Canada.

3.     Hyoga retires after 25 yrs service - (at 44 in 2043)

4.     Hyoga signs for another ten years – (34 in 2033)

5.     Hyoga’s wife has 2nd child – (Hyo 29 in 2028)

6.     Hyoga Marries – (27 in 2026)

7.     Hyoga graduates HS, joins Air Force – (19 in 2018)

8.     Hyoga Joins Air Cadets – (13 in 2012)

Let’s turn this around, now.

1.     Hyoga Joins Air Cadets – (13 in 2012)

2.     Hyoga graduates HS, joins Air Force – (19 in 2018)

3.     Hyoga Marries – (27 in 2026)

4.     Hyoga’s wife has 2nd child – (Hyo 29 in 2028)

5.     Hyoga signs for another ten years – (34 in 2033)

6.     Hyoga retires after 25 yrs service - (at 44 in 2043)

7.     Hyoga Starts Flying for JAL or Air Canada.

8.     I die happy, knowing that his family is happy and my grandkids are better off than I ever was! - (at 88 yrs in 2053)

For me to get there from where I am right now, requires me to keep my belt as tight as possible (please, no fat jokes!)  Budget ourselves as our investment grows.  Retire to Japan, start a business using the skills I have.  Grow said business, and sell it for a profit (or keep it in the family, depending on circumstance).  Leave a heritage of pride and hard work (and lots of cash!) to my Grandchildren.

Forward thinking, no?

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