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It's a Choice
By Anne Marie Goslak

I was witness to one of the most colossal melt downs in the history of cooking. No, it was not Gordon Ramsay, the internationally known chef who routinely screams at people on TV. It was better than that!

My friends and I were at a high end restaurant, famous for steaks. We were enjoying our meal when, suddenly, we heard a commotion from the kitchen.

Apparently, the chef and a server were having a disagreement.

The server said, "What's the big deal, Chef? They won't know the difference. It's close enough," as he walked out into the dining room.

The chef followed, in hot pursuit. "Close enough? Close enough? What does THAT mean? Whether the guest knows the difference or not, it matters. It ALL matters!!"

Now they were squaring off in the middle of the dining room. The chef said, "If we are going to be elite, it matters. If we are going to be the best, it matters! If we are going to charge $38 for a steak, EVERYTHING matters! How it's prepared, how it's plated, what we serve as a side dish, what kind of knife we use. We are not Applebee's, for Pete's sake!"

Finally, the manager stepped in and put a halt to the spectacle.

The chef and server disappeared to the back and normalcy began to set in again.

The experience, however, started a great dinner time conversation. At our table, were two former Olympians, two Division I college coaches who played on tour, a neurosurgeon, a stay-at-home mom who home schooled her kids, an engineer and me.

The question was raised, "In your field of expertise, what do you do, that, at first glance, might seem to be excessive or unnecessary, but is really required to be elite?"

The neuro surgeon said, "I say what I am going to do, out loud, twice, before I do anything. It used to bother the others in the OR, but later, they realized that it saves lives."

The Olympians had a barrage of things they did, that separated the great athletes from the medal winners, from choosing a training partner to the kind of alarm clock they used.

The college coaches and I had a lot in common. We talked a lot about preparing to succeed and being specific with movements to increase body awareness and consistent neuro patterns.

The engineer talked about never estimating, always measuring to the smallest measurement possible. She also mentioned constantly evolving the process to make it better.

The stay at home mom was the most impressive, however. She had a system in place for time management, diet and nutrition, peak study times, successful communication patterns between kids and adults, and healthy ways to express anger and frustration. It seemed everyone had a system they used to be successful.

We also talked about our "Apathy Arenas." Those are areas of our lives that simply weren't that important to us. For me, it might be fashion. For others, it was keeping a clean car. We agreed that in the "Apathy Arena" we all used terms like, "Close enough." Or "That will do."

We concluded that elite performers make a conscious choice. In the areas that are important to us, everything matters. Our obsessive behavior is not just preferred. It is required to be successful.

So do you want an Applebee's steak or a USDA Prime? Apparently, it's a choice.

-Anne Marie Goslak