During my first Vipassana Service, I served in the kitchen. And we usually cook for like about 70-90 people – breakfast, lunch for these many people. And it means everything we do is in huge quantities like potatoes – 4 Kgs, cucumber – 2 Kgs. One of the tasks that I was assigned to was cutting tomatoes – Kilos of them. I admit that I was a novice at cooking and had a hard time cutting tomatoes because the knife would just slide by as opposed to make a clean cut. One of my fellow servers saw me struggling with tomatotes and came over with a serrated knife and cutting tomatoes has been a source of joy since then.
Have you ever tried to slice ginger? If so, then you probably know that if you are having a hard time slicing it then it probably means you just have to flip it to the other side. Yes, one side of ginger is more amenable to being cut than the other.
What does all this mean? That things do not have to be hard – if they are then that means you are doing it the hard way, not necessarily that it is hard.
This technique is not restricted only to cutting vegetables or in the kitchen – this is true even for life. When we are doing something for the first time, it is hard because we are figuring out which knife to use for which vegetables – which side to turn the ginger on to ensure that the knife slices smoothly. When I became a people leader – it was hard because I was learning, and as I keep at it, I realized that I have a toolkit and now I use the tool needed for that situation.
People might tell you how to be a great leader, you can read all the books you want, but nothing can replace the hands-on experience. Sometimes people who write the books are so well experienced in their craft that they do not think that mentioning that using a ‘serrated’ knife is the key because for them it is the only way to cut tomatoes. We build our toolkit – the one that works for us, not the one that made the author successful. It does not mean that you have nothing to learn from the books – of course, you do, but just reading books is not going to cut it.
If something is hard, then it is a good thing because it means you will eventually learn how to make it easy or you will learn something new. Giving up is not the option – a lot of people say nowadays I have so many emails in my inbox that I cannot read all emails – Excuses!!! If you cannot manage your inbox, then how are you managing your life. You haven’t figured out how to manage your inbox the easy way, and you have given up and accepted that it is hard – that is a sad situation.
Which knife are you looking for?