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Leadership Recipe

Fear and the Pressure Cooker

January 24, 2017

Roast Beef

This is an easy recipe.

  • Lipton onion soup 1 package
  • Chuck Roast 3-4 lbs
  • water or beef broth 1/2 cup
  1. Place roast beef into pressure cooker.

  2. Add water/beef broth and onion soup mix.

  3. Turn on browning function on pressure cooker until meat looks brown on outside.

  4. Use use high pressure on cooker for 60 minutes

My grandmother made the best roast beef. It was always tender and juicy and had the best flavor. Although the recipe itself was quite simple, mine just never tastes as good as hers. Why? Because, she used a pressure cooker. Candidly I am very afraid of the pressure cooker.

When I was a little girl, the pressure cooker was this big, heavy metal pan that sat threatening on the stove. It made a constant hissing sound that started out slow and soft, and eventually grew to an incessant screeching. The constant hissing was scary and ominous. It always sounded like it was about to burst and launch itself into the ceiling. Grandma always warned me to be very careful around it since it could be very dangerous. So I steered clear and limited my involvement to just enjoying the succulent roast beef this menacing pressure cooker produced. Grandma made many different types of meats and vegetables using the pressure cooker – it was a good way to use inexpensive cuts of meat and tenderize them in a short period of time. Even as I grew older I never used the pressure cooker and didn’t ask to learn because of this nurtured fear. After my grandmother passed away, I regretted not learning how to use it. Partly because I missed the roast beef and other dishes she prepared and partly because I never overcame my simple fear of the pressure cooker. While I understand pressure cookers have come a very long way, my fear of them still lingers and prevents me from recreating this enjoyment from my youth.

Fear is ubiquitous and can play a big role in all we do, including in the workplace. It can make us too risk averse. It can immobilize us. It can make us angry and lash out. It can make us keep doing the same thing when we know in our heart that it is time to change. It can lead to regret for not trying something simply because we are afraid. But when fear is managed it can be a great motivator—it can lead us to accomplish things that we never thought that we could have done and make us better.

Over the last year I have personally gone through many changes – things that have made me move out of my comfort zone and try something different. I left a place that I worked for many years and that I knew very well. I became a consultant and began to travel for work. I started a blog. I lost my dear father-in-law and my Aunt and Godmother. My Dad experienced a health crisis that almost cost him his life. I traveled to Europe for the first time and went on my very first cruise. When I think about all the changes that I went through, I thought perhaps it was finally time for me to overcome my fear of the dreaded pressure cooker. So I asked for one for Christmas.

All of these things made me realize that in order to manage fear one needs to do several things – identify what it is you are afraid of, obtain enough information to understand your fear, and embrace the notion that even though you might feel frightened, don’t let it stop you. The first time you do something new, it won’t be perfect but you will get better as you learn.

When I asked for my Christmas present, I researched all of the pressure cookers on the market and identified a specific one. I read the instructions very carefully and followed them to the letter.   I am happy to report that it turned out fine. I did not blow the lid off, damage the ceiling, or lose any fingers using the fearsome pressure cooker for the first time. It has made me realize that while it is normal to feel fear, we cannot let it stop us. We must keep going, and challenge our fears, no matter what.

The pressure cooker and fear is an appropriate metaphor for how we deal with the world. We can ignore the fear, assume it and the self limitations it fosters , or we can gain the required knowledge and take the plunge into new life experiences that yield growth and a new path forward. .

looking-at-foodjan-10-8-31-17-pmSo a pressure cooker is a great way make a very tasty meal in a short time. It has many advantages. Although I am still not completely comfortable with using it, I am getting there. My goal for 2017 is to have courage to keep on doing things that I may be afraid of. I understand that it may or may not work out, but at least I’m not letting fear limit life’s choices. This is the year to try something that you are afraid of – and see what happens ­— What’s your pressure cooker?

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1 Comment

  • Reply Sandra Capitena January 25, 2017 at 8:18 pm

    Another great thought to ponder! A few years ago, I made some really life-altering decisions. I was SO scared to move out a comfort zone I had lived in for 35 years. But while a comfort zone…… it was also no longer a “comfortable zone.” I’m happy I did, and I am STILL learning and adjusting to my new “zone.”……I appreciate the reminder! Thanks, Cindy!

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