I am convinced that one of the key ingredients to my leadership success (and sanity) is pie. As in, coconut cream pie, my Memaw’s apple pie, or a sweet potato pie with marshmallow meringue that will make you lick the plate. Mmmmm…but I digress.
I haven’t always been so passionate about pie and the pie process. My mom and her mom baked a variety of pie goodness when I was growing up. But I was always quite content with someone else doing the pie baking while I focused on the pie eating. And I would have been just as happy with any other kind of dessert: ice cream, a dark chocolate cake, or really chewy oatmeal cookies.
But pie has forever won my heart for one simple reason: pie made me a better leader.
A couple of years ago, after an intense season of ministry leadership, I was scheduled for a much-needed three month sabbatical. I had a long list of overachiever to-do’s for my time away including becoming more conversational with my Spanish and knocking out about 20 books on my reading list (neither of those happened by the way). But one small item on my list did get tackled: finding my signature pie recipe.* You know, the one recipe that when you are invited to someone’s house and you ask to bring something they say, “Please bring that pie you always bake. We love that pie. In fact, we invited you over just so we could enjoy the pie.”
Just about every Sunday on my sabbatical, I would pull out another pie recipe from my collection and I would bake. My family and small group would taste-test and decide if it was a contender to be “the one”. Little did I know then that my pursuit of pie perfection would offer leadership lessons along the way.
If you don’t believe me, here are 3 essential leadership ingredients I found in pie (and yes, they all start with “P” because that’s just more fun):
- Pace of Patience: I chose pie because it was a challenge of my skills and in slowing down. Just like leadership, baking a pie from scratch with a homemade crust requires planning, a gentle touch, and a great deal of patience.
- Practicing Presence: There is no multi-tasking when it comes to pie. Just like in leadership, if you are not fully present when baking, you will overwork the dough, skip an ingredient, or set off the smoke detectors. (I have experienced all three.)
- Pleasurable Pastime: Every leader needs a hobby. I had gotten to the point in my life and leadership where I was pretty one-dimensional: all leadership and family, all the time. Researching techniques and recipes, dreaming up pie shop business plans, and “talking pie” with friends brought another dimension to my life. It provided another outlet for creativity and productivity without the pressures and demands of everyday leadership life.
Where’s the “pie” in your leadership? What hobby or special interest makes you a better leader?
*Bonus: the following are a few of my pie favorites
- Favorite pie memoir: Making Piece: a memoir of love, loss and pie by Beth Howard
- Favorite pie travel book: American Pie: slices of life (and pie) from America’s back roads by Pascale le Draoulec
- Favorite pie guy: Ken Haedrich of The Pie Academy
- Recipe for Sweet potato pie mentioned above
- Recipe for Chocolate cream pie pictured above
And my signature pie? Triple Berry. And no way am I sharing that recipe.