The Pancake Simile

There is something special about the weekends. I love, love, love making breakfast for my bride and my kids! They don’t always¬†want the pancakes or the eggs…they almost never argue about the bacon, because who doesn’t love bacon, am I right? The best part about it, is simply pouring my love into the food and then forcing my kids to take a couple bites. It’s fun and loving, then ‘dad voice’ reinforces proper table decorum and nutritional intake…AND then when it’s all over we can get down to the serious business of weekend play.

I realized one morning while pouring the batter onto the hot griddle that pancakes are a simile for some of my most guarded and protected dreams. I’m going to share them with you here because breakfast is meant to be shared, and it tastes better with company.

What’s a simile? (Oh, that wasn’t a typo, he meant simile but tricked me with a smile plate) A lot like a metaphor, right? To be fair, this could turn into a metaphor, but look at how cute that pancake smile is, and enjoy the story.

Ok, so pancakes as a literary device.

Making pancakes isn’t incredibly difficult. It just takes mixing things together in the right order and proportions, preferably with a recipe or the side of the box, and then pouring the batter onto the griddle and flipping at just the right moment to get a golden brown, not black or pale grey pancake. There are secret techniques to the flip, timing just the right number of bubbles in the batter, and so on, but the pattern is repeatable and each batch gets better and better. The science of it probably has to do with letting the batter “rest” a while before cooking so it isn’t too watery…this naturally happens as you go through the batches of the delicious golden coins. Time takes its effect and you get better pancakes.

Where is the lesson?

That first batch of pancakes is pure learning. They almost NEVER turn out right. Did you butter or spray the pan with some yellow can of cooking spray? Those first few cakes will be smothered in the slimy stuff and turn out thin, and oily, and some picky eaters may say inedible. Do you give up right then and there and order breakfast burritos? Heck no. You pour the next batch, and they turn out AWESOME! I just heard a stat on an audio book I’m using for the long daily commute: Talk Like TED. On the program, the author drops a stat that 90% of start-ups fail, but of those that fail, 80% of those with the wherewithal to try again build successful second businesses. That number is incredible! There will be sad entrepreneurs that take the first batch of pancakes as failure rather than information. To these folks that dreamt of the perfect pancake, one bad batch was enough to throw in the towel, and unfortunately, they’ll never realize the importance of ladling up and pouring the batter again.

Think about it this way, have you ever been out driving, looking for a new destination with a map, or map quest directions, or a GPS with out of date street maps? You think you’ve missed the destination and so you turn around only to find out you were just minutes away in the first place? You end up spending hours re-tracing and redoubling your efforts rather than staying the course while dealing with the few minutes of discomfort and ambiguity of the unknown. The second and subsequent batches of pancakes are proof that your staying power pay off quickly and nicely, and as you regulate the temperature, the timing, and the technique, every batch is better than the previous.

I ran across the following quote on Instagram and was drawn to the message. The future is unknown and possibly unknowable. Ask a Wall Street trader whether you can time the market, or pick the right stock at the right time? Likely you’ll get messages about hedging, diversifying, and other strategies that leverage preparation, robustness, and anti-fragility. ¬†In much the same way, you don’t know if you’ll burn the house down or make the picture perfect meal, so you would do best to build the best YOU possible. If you can handle the kids complaining about the batter, or the food touching, or the lack of bacon, you’ll be well on your way to handling the other critics in your life. In reality, your response and reaction to the events of life is all you have, so spend your time and energy cultivating the best YOU possible.


Mmm, now I’m hungry and motivated, how about you?