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Coaching for Success
A leap of faith
When Steve Drake, the owner of Drake’s Restaurant in Ripley, Surrey, (see http://www.drakesrestaurant.co.uk/ ) first received a letter from Mike Duckett, The Chef’s Coach, there were already a number of ways in which he and others considered him a success story.

Steve 2Steve already e
xhibited many of the outward signs of success, including his own restaurant and various accolades.

He was, however, frustrated with aspects of his work, a frustration which had built up over a couple of years.  He was feeling stressed out all of the time, mainly because there was just too much to do, and found it hard to concentrate and to be creative. 
 
Given the importance which Steve attaches to his creativity, this was a serious issue for him.  He was operationally strong, running his business well, but this allowed no time or energy for his creative juices to flow.  He realised he needed to think and work in a different way in order to have different outcomes, but needed a catalyst to make that happen.
 
Steve had long been impressed with another of Mike’s clients, Heston Blumenthal, and his ability to find the time to do all that he does, to juggle so many disparate activities, to always be able to say the right thing at the right time and throughout to remain true to his values. 
 
Having started work with Mike, Steve knows it’s important to get what he wants out of each session, but one of the challenges is knowing what that will be!  Sessions often start with clarifying and confirming that goals previously discussed are still valid goals and looking at progress towards them (or sometimes, lack of!).  As an overarching objective Steve wants to have clear goals and a clear path to achieving them, so this process usually ensures he gets what he wants from each session.
 
Being a keen marathon runner and generally sports oriented, he likes things to move swiftly and sometimes feels frustrated that changes don’t happen overnight!  He does, however, appreciate that he needs time to consider what has been said and to reflect on his past actions and think about how he might do things differently (just as he would if reflecting back on a running performance).
 
Sometimes it’s as much as a month later before he really appreciates the value of the work he’s done in the previous session.
 
As far as specific goals go, how he manages his team is one of the areas on which Steve has worked, including how he gets the best out of his people.
 
The classic goal for chefs to set themselves is of course the Michelin star/s. Steve & Mike discussed this very early on and Steve was aware that gaining a second Michelin star (he’s had one for 8 years now) would not be a particularly useful goal in itself because it is not under his or any chef’s control. However, it would perhaps be an excellent result if the restaurant were to improve the way Steve planned. Indeed the extra star, if awarded, would then simply be an excellent form of recognition that he’d achieved his real goal - owning a restaurant that delivers an exquisite customer experience.
 
(Ed: Using one of the key principles of performance coaching, this change of language allowed him to ‘separate results from performance’ and therefore focus on what matters – his creativity – which is what will give him the best chance of results like Michelin stars)
 
Applying this thought process has enabled Steve to focus on ways of improving his customers’ experience, the happiness and wellbeing of his team and the creative element of his offering.  The real goal is for Steve to be the best that he can be – if that is recognised by a second star, then all well and good.
 
Hiring a Head Chef was one specific outcome from this decision – yes, it does of course add to the overheads of the business, but the time it frees up to enable Steve to work ‘on’ the business instead of ‘in’ the business is invaluable. 
 
Another goal achieved is that he now allows and encourages his staff to show a lot more initiative in making decisions, which frees him up to do other things.
 
There is of course a concern that others will not perform as well as Steve, but that concern is generally unfounded.  When there is validity to it, the issue is discussed with the staff member concerned and the matter is dealt with as a training opportunity, through which the staff members grows and Steve gets a sense of achievement from helping them to grow in that way.
 
Steve has worked hard on balancing being involved versus interfering or overshadowing his team.  Delegating in order to focus on working ‘on’ the business, as well as recognising the unreasonable burden his staff bore, has resulted in a 30% increase in staffing levels.  Again, this increases overheads, but happier staff and more of them means better service and happier customers, which in turn brings more repeat bookings and more profits to pay for the extra overhead.
 
And what if goals are not achieved?  There is obviously a feeling of disappointment, but those feelings are addressed and options explored so that Steve does not see this as failure but as part of the learning curve.  Perhaps the goal was badly defined or unachievable.  Perhaps the wrong route to achieving it was taken.  Talking it through helps him to deal with the risk of a sense of under-achieving and to look at re-setting the goal or the route to achieving it.
 
Steve is confident that he has changed his performance immensely, a feeling backed up by comments from staff, from family and from friends.  He now always tries to stay calm (and usually succeeds!), stepping back from a problem to look at the bigger picture.  He is also not as hard on himself as he used to be!
 
Drake’s is more profitable, Steve’s work/life balance is considerably better and he even gets the time to go regularly for a run, using that time to reflect, without interruptions from staff, customers, family, phone or email!

On an ongoing basis he wants to be better both operationally and creatively and appreciates now more than ever that you can’t do that if you’re just too busy. You need occasionally to ‘step out of the bubble’ and to take a leap of faith that taking two hours out to think about yourself and your own performance will pay dividends.
 
Stop Press: Drake’s rated 55 (up 23 places)in Sunday Times Top 100 Restaurants 2011


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Want your wine to taste zingy and refreshing? Put on some Just Can't Get Enough by Nouvelle Vague!

More research on how sound affects the sense of taste. People given Montes Alpha 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay - both Chilean, described their experience of the wine differently according to the style of music they were listening to at the time.

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How Belly Bugs Control Your Mood
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What is more plainly obvious is that certain bacteria can make you feel pretty bad!

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Eating the Buddhist way
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Now we have a series of 8 books reviewed here that all focus in various ways on the behavior of eating. They're not all about dieting and they're not all by psychologists but they all look interesting and I'll endeavor to wade through the list myself!

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Are you a leader? If so take a look in the mirror!

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It's a bit like feeling it's OK to eat cake because you just done a long run. You're licensing yourself to indulge.

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Vitamins are supposed to be good for you!!!

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Coaching for Success
Release creativity; develop your leadership; make confident decisions; perform under pressure.


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