A Lesson in Confidence & Leadership from a Pot of Chili


I just love having chili and cornbread on a crisp fall day. There’s just something that I find comforting about it. It reminds me of growing up when I could smell the chili cooking in the kitchen on a Sunday afternoon while sitting with my dad and watching the Detroit Lions lose another game. It’s comfortable and familiar. And all those memories come rushing back to me every time I make chili. But this morning when I was getting the chili cooking for dinner, my mind turned to the topics of confidence and leadership.

You see, I’m not one of those cooks that can just throw a bit of this and a little of that into the pot. I like to have a recipe to follow. And, I love my chili recipe. I discovered it years ago when I was putting together a Men’s Bow Shoot event at my church. We were going to serve chili, cornbread and apple pie. I already had an amazing cornbread recipe and can make an apple pie to die for, but chili is another story.

My first experience cooking chili

When I first got married, my husband and I remodeled the house we bought. This was back in 2005-ish before the internet was the beast that it is now, so full of knowledge and how-to videos. We were in our early 20’s, full of “confidence” and stupidity, and we tackled a project that was much larger than our abilities at the time, but that’s a story for another day.

One fall day we were running electrical and installing new plugs, and my brother-in-law came over to help. I had promised him and my husband chili for dinner. My mother-in-law makes amazing chili. She just creates it as she goes and somehow it always turns out great. So, that’s what I tried. Can you tell where this is going?

It was horrible. My chili tasted like you were biting into a tomato. I had used all kinds of tomato sauce and tomato paste and apparently used barely any of the correct spices. It was bad. Not just a little bad, really bad. In fact, we still laugh about it today.

Finding the right recipe

So, when I was getting ready for the bow shoot event, I knew that I needed to find a good recipe for chili. I wanted to provide a delicious meal for the men when they came back in from target shooting. So, I scoured the internet in search of the perfect recipe. I found two that looked promising and did trial runs on both to see which one was the best. And I ended up finding a go-to chili recipe that I still use years later.

Even though I’ve made chili countless times since that event, I still stick to the recipe. I break out my recipe box and pull out the paper where I scribbled down the recipe amongst other notes for the event. And I love to see that paper with the recipe on it. It’s now so used that it’s tattered, splattered with grease, and stained with tomato sauce. But I cherish it. I enjoy making chili now and feel confident in my ability to make a great pot of chili every single time because of that recipe.

How does a pot of chili relate to confidence?

You see, my confidence in making chili isn’t in my own ability or even in my experience of cooking it in the past. My confidence comes from having the recipe and knowing the processes that produce great results.

The same is true for confidence and leadership development.

If you’ve known Darren Fisher, Founder and CEO of SPEARity, for more than a hot minute then you’ve probably heard him talk about something called “process confidence”. It’s about having confidence in what you’re doing because you trust the process. It’s not about your own skills or the past experiences that you’ve had. And it’s not about having all the right connections.

Yes, you can be confident in your ability and grow confidence from your past experiences, but you don’t have to have all that in order to be confident. Some of you have somewhat of a natural confidence so this might not seem like as big of a deal for you. But for many of you, this idea can bring comfort and reassurance.

It’s OK if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing right now, because you can trust in the process and grow because of it. It’s OK if you’ve made mistakes in the past because you can learn to follow the processes that will make a difference.

If you’re not feeling the confidence that you want in your business and life, you can get there. If you’re not seeing the growth that you want in your business or your staff, you can get there. You just need the right “recipe”.

Step 1: Get the processes in place

I would have never learned to make a great pot of chili without finding the right recipe. You may never learn to overcome that big obstacle that you’re facing if you don’t learn the process to help you along the way.

The first step you need to take is getting connected with someone that can show you the way to get to where you want to be. SPEARity coaches know the processes that lead to growth and results. They have experience helping leader after leader, organization after organization, learn the processes that get them the results they desire.

You don’t have to know the process yourself, you just need to know the people that do—SPEARity.

Step 2: Listen to feedback

I knew the very first pot of chili that I ever made was bad because of the feedback I received. First off, my taste buds gave me a clear indication that I was not on the right path. Secondly, my husband and brother-in-law tried to be nice, but it was very apparent that the chili was far from the delicious meal that I promised.

And I knew that the bow shot event chili was delicious because of the feedback I received. I had plenty of heads popping into the kitchen to compliment the chili before the night was over. When you compare the two sets of feedback I received, it’s pretty obvious what recipe I should continue using when I make chili.

It’s important to listen to feedback as you work on developing as a leader and growing your business. This is something that Darren’s been on the SPEARity YouTube channel talking about lately.

You may feel like you’re putting yourself out there to ask for feedback, but it’s a crucial step in growth.

I used to work for an organization where the leader surrounded himself with “yes people”. These are employees or board members that will always agree with the leader no matter what. They told him what he wanted to hear in order to keep him happy. Did the leader like these people? Of course! Why wouldn’t he? They always agreed with him.

But because he always found and listened to “yes people” who agreed with him, he never listened to real feedback. He refused to open himself up to that opportunity for growth, and it didn’t take long before others started to notice. Those that didn’t agree with him and those that challenged his leadership didn’t stay with the organization. Some chose to leave and others were eventually forced out.

You don’t want to be that “leader”.

So, how do you use this information to grow as a leader?

If you struggle with confidence, discover the processes that will guide you along the way. Be proactive about seeking authentic feedback to learn what areas you need to address. Don’t let the uncomfortableness of hearing that “your chili sucks” stop you from learning what you need to do to grow.

If you don’t have someone that can provide you with authentic feedback and guide you through identifying and learning the processes that you and your business need to grow, contact a SPEARity coach today.

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