You know that feeling when you learn about something and BOOM!

The new idea blows your mind, connects-the-dots, and provides a new perspective by which EVERYTHING you do moving forward will bejudged?

I had one of those moments. And the implications for the way we work and live are massive. Two nights ago, Jodi and I watched a Netflix original show called…

Chef’s Table

I rarely watch TV… even if it’s a popular program.

Watching these “world class” chefs was exactly what I needed to uplevel my thinking about routines and habits.

Over the past 48 hours, Jodi and I have been talking a LOT about how the life and work of these chefs is similar to the pressure that YOU feel every day.

After some convincing from a friend, I decided to watch Chef’s Table for three reasons:

  1. I worked in my parents’ French restaurant from the time I was 7-15 years old. I prepped and cooked almost every day. To this day, I’m drawn to great restaurants worldwide.
  2. It is a beautifully produced show and an amazing example of telling a compelling story.
  3. In one hour episodes, I learned how 6 top-performer chefs worked their way to the top. This program has left my mind racing for the last two days.

This morning I told my friends during #CoffeeChat here in Ojai what I learned about how how these TOP CHEFS manage the consistent and very real Pressure to Perform: Mise en place

Mise en place

Mise en place (French pronunciation: [mi za ‘plas])

It’s a French phrase that means to routinely and habitually arrange the ingredients and tools needed for cooking.

Now, there’s a chance that you’re reading this on an elevator or on your commute and thinking,

“What has gotten into Jason?! He wants to be a chef now?”  

Here’s the part that’s easy to miss, mise en place is so much more than diced up garlic and onions.  Mise en place is a way to describe the single most important trait of top performers: their habits.

I remember working in my parent’s restaurant in Lagunitas, California called, “Le Printemps;” my step-dad taught me to “never put fire to pan until everything was lined up…”

Every chef in this Netflix show has an unrelenting commitment to standards, routines and habits. They are devoutly adherent to mise en place.

They call mise en place a “way of life” and say that it’s the art of slowing things down in order to speed up. When was the last time you brought that much attention to your work?

Here’s how it translates into my life:

  • By talking with the most traveled executives in the world, I pack my suitcase meticulously so that when I travel I know where everything is.
  • By training with some of the best triathletes in the world, I set up my race-day triathlon transition area with everything I’ll need. No less, no more. Everything is placed to optimize movement and minimize time loss.
  • By interviewing some of the best writers in the world, I’ve set up my writing station in the office with a mise en place philosophy so that I’m as effective and efficient as possible…

I’ve been thinking even more about the effects that your ROUTINES and HABITS have on your performance. Remember, you can change your habits and make your best… even better.

For now, take some time to review your own mise en place.