Bread and leadership/tonight I bake

“Today I brew.  Tonight I bake.  Tomorrow…? The task here is for you to finish the quote.  This  might tell me a number of things:  what school system you grew up in;  the nature of your childhood reading; how long ago you were in elementary school; etc.    One of my pastimes is baking, especially bread baking. Today’s post is about leadership/life lessons from the bread-making process.

Flour

Flour

Stage 1: We begin with a combination of whole wheat and white flour – dry ingredients easily moved. If we blow on it it will go in any and all directions like dust in the wind.  If we heat it all we may end up with is burnt dry flour… not much good for anything. This stage represents the life of a leader or individual without a foundation; core principles on which to base their life.  At this stage the saying, “If you stand for nothing you will fall for anything” will be true of the leader’s life.

Stage 2: We now add a variety of ingredients:  oil, water, yeast,salt, and honey that will help to bind the dry ingredients together.  These  represent the core qualities/principles/virtues that will form the foundation on which the leader will base his/her life. These may include love, honesty, courage, justice, spirituality, hope  and integrity.

Stage 3: Having these ingredients all together is not enough to produce the dough that will eventually become bread.  We have to knead and mix them together working the mass over a period of time.  From a leadership perspective it is not enough to know about the importance of core principles  we have to actively work them into our lives applying them to the way we live and make decisions as often as possible.   Information with application leads to transformation.

Stage 4: Dough.

Dough

Dough

Via the kneading and mixing process the yeast, oil and water have infused the entire mass.  What we have now bears little resemblance to what we started out with; transformation has occurred. In the context of leadership as we consistently begin to live our lives from the foundation of our core principles they begin to become part of who we are.  Transformation occurs.  Our lives begin to take shape and form; to have substance that will positively impact and influence those with whom we come into contact. This transformation takes time

Stage 5: Bread. 

Fresh Bread

Fresh Bread

Dough becomes bread when it experiences the heat of the oven.   That heat releases an aroma that for most people is a sweet smelling aroma. If you have ever entered a home where bread has been freshly baked you have experienced this sensation.  In a leader’s life adversity [or success] can represent the ‘heat’ that can release true fragrance from a life founded on the bedrock of enduring principles.   This fragrance will pervade the atmosphere that surrounds you and will attract people to you.  So, will we choose to be bread or dust in the wind?

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Cliff {AMDG}

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7 Responses to Bread and leadership/tonight I bake

  1. I like the way you used the bread to show the progressive content of leadership. The elements all work together, forming a sweet aroma. I had officers in the army that had that type of leadership quality, I would have followed them into battle because they were leaders. Some on the other hand were not. Thanks for this. Willis

  2. Leo

    Interesting! I did leadership as part of my program and thought this was an interesting/unique way to demonstrate that leadership is ongoing and progressive. By the way, that bread looks good man. I guess it was the progressive work of a good teacher who instilled core principles, “from the foundation of our core principles they begin to become part of who we are”

  3. Gary Clarke

    The problem of course is the smell. The bread at any stage of the process looks reasonably unappealing, at some points appalling.
    It has been said that “Patriotism is the memory of what you ate when you were young”. Maybe Patriotism is the memory of smells for some of us.
    In my teens we as a family used to go skiing in the Laurentian “Mountains”, near St. Sauveur (means Saint Saviour) north of Montreal. Parents had rented an old place with a wood stove for heat and cooking. But on the way up we always stopped at the old bakery that still baked their loaves in the traditional stone- wood fired oven. The fragrance in the car for that last 15 minute drive to the ski shack would drive us crazy. At arrival, the duty was to fire up our wood stove first, but the prize was rushing to open the butter and have the first slice of that amazing white bread.
    “Taste and see that the Lord is good”. For some maybe the memory of Mangoes starts with seeing, but for me it’s the smell of the bread that begs me to try it.

  4. I enjoyed the way in which you packaged truth.

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