Hungry for Change?

Hungry for change? Here’s what you will discover for yourself at my Conscious Innovation Restaurant…

A partner this week asked me to describe – through a metaphor- the coaching experience I have been providing people as they want support to ignite their social impact, their social change strategy, and their next steps on their change-making journey as social finance professionals.

Here’s what I shared with him:

You go to a place, let’s say a restaurant, for the promise of a different experience. You have never been there so your expectation doesn’t necessarily fit with what the dinner will actually offer you. It’s a bit blurry. But you trust the reviews.

You come in and settle in at the table.

You get to choose from the menu.

You start with the appetizer or starter, let’s say three olives and sweet and sour glazed shrimps on a tiny plate. Maybe a tiny bowl of creative dip sauce.

Nothing more.

You know what it is, you can describe it. That’s also partly the reason why you chose this to get started. You know it.

But you won’t spend a full hour on this. At most, you can re-arrange the olives and the shrimps on your plate, to your liking. But they will be quickly gobbled up and gone.

Or you will just take the shrimps and leave the olives on the side.

It’s an enjoyable warm-up. The dipping sauce might even be exquisite.

But you suspect there is more to this place than this starter.

And you are right.

Before you came in, you were hungry, but you also wanted to dig deep and be transported somewhere else. A place that the café around the corner couldn’t offer you.

So the main dish arrives. And it is not necessarily the idea for the main dish you had in mind when you entered the premises. But it is a natural choice.

And with this main dish, comes a story that needs unravelling. The dish will be much more complex than the starter. You will discover several layers of ingredients, a variety of flavours, smells, and textures craftily woven, mixed, and arranged, which will wake you up, shake you maybe, and take you on an exploratory journey.

“The truth is, that dish is not there to please your eyes and taste buds”, I say.

“Really?” he replies, stunned.

“No…. Because it’s impossible to promise this. Everyone reacts and feels differently. A spoonful can make you incredibly melancholic. Or joyful. Or both simultaneously. Nobody can predict your reaction to this. And there’s nothing wrong with this. That’s part of the adventure”

However, you can trust the chef will pour quantities and mixes that will take you to the edge without hurting you. They want you to be fully present in the experience and get something out of it.

And in this fusion, there might be ingredients you thought you disliked, but now they come in a new light. And they are marvellously and unexpectedly surprising.

Memories will surface, and questions will arise.

“Do you remember when…?“

“What made me dislike this before?”

“I feel much more adventurous now, what’s causing that…”

The chef is taking you through this journey of discovery, and she is not there putting the fork in your mouth. Her work is done. You are the one who does the chewing, the biting, the digesting!

She cares, sitting at a table not far away, observing you. Whilst she does that, she makes sure the appropriate lights are on, the kitchen functions in the background, and the ambient noise doesn’t disturb you. She is calm.

In your implicit agreement, you happily let her come in from time to time to turn the plate, move it closer or further away from you – always with your permission- enabling you to discover, taste, and feel something you couldn’t before because you hadn’t seen the dish from that angle…

As the alliance takes shape, you get a clearer idea of why you came to visit. You understand your reasons, your motivation, and maybe, if all goes well, what you will want to repeat, learn or understand, by the end of the meal.

And each new bite of food is the opportunity for you to get to that well wrapped-up learning finish line.

So, you came in for the promise of discovery. You started with a first simple dish, that was ok, yet didn’t teach you much. You selected it because it is something you might have recognised and even have eaten at home before, something familiar. An appetizer.

Then you swiftly got to the main dish.

That main dish is the magic of the partnership, the core of the experience, with its effusion of senses and revelations.

And in this fusion, there might be ingredients you thought you disliked, but now they come in a new light. And they are marvellously and unexpectedly surprising.

Pic by nathalie jolie for unsplash - Whole and cut Pomegranates, strawberries, and lavender, and a knife on a dark tablecloth

Pic by nathalie jolie for unsplash – Whole and cut Pomegranates, strawberries, and lavender, and a knife on a dark tablecloth

When you are done, you wrap up with a dessert, a piece of gratefulness that gives the way for appreciation. That appreciation highlights and reinforces the keynotes and sensations you’ve experimented with throughout the dinner. The gorgeous cherry on the cake.

And importantly, because the place where you sat was designed in such a way that it told you “you matter”, and the staff genuinely cared about your experience, the learning and satisfaction have been even deeper.

You will not remember the experience, taste for taste, word for word, nor all the feelings and impressions. But only the essence of it.

And you will leave with a simple yet concrete takeaway. It could be a thought, the desire to try something new or observe a new attitude, a pragmatic action, you will test out, and see how it works out.

I hope to see you at my Conscious Innovation table in 2022 where I can help you discover a new “dish” for you…


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