Thomas Keller on Passion

People talk about passion like it’s an emotion you need to have to be successful. For me, that’s not true. Passion is not something that I look for when I hire someone. Passion is overused and in many cases, misused. ‘You have to be passionate about you do’ – well okay, what does that mean? What I look for is desire because desire is something that’s always there. When the passion epps as it always does in anything that we do, what is going to make you come to work? It’s desire.

It’s very simple: come to work everyday and do a little better than you did the day before. I think if you can do just a little better at something — I don’t care what it is — make an effort every day to do something a little better than the day before. And that shows a strong desire for improvement. We want people to have better skills, we want people to have better knowledge – we want people to have a better life. And so each day you have to try do something better than the day before. If you do that every day, 10 years from now you’ll have a considerable sum.

There are so many times that a young chef ‘I want to do this. I want to do that. Chef, let me do this. Chef, let me do that. When are you going to let me try something different?’ It’s like… you’re a cook. You cook everyday. Enjoy it. It’s not like there’s going to be something new every day. You’re going to roast a piece of meat. Find pleasure in roasting that piece of meat everyday. Find pleasure in sharpening your knife everday. Because if you want something new everyday, you’re not going to find that. Repetition is something that is so important.

— transcribed from Thomas Keller’s episode on Heritage Radio’s Chef’ Story on what he looks for when he hires someone for any role in his organization.

Chef Keller is talking about what he looks for in people he hires but what he says holds true no matter what you do and what field you are in. At least that’s what I’ve learned and seen in my limited experience.

There’s always going to be something we all don’t want to do or even loathe. What motivates us to get up in the morning everyday and be the best we can in order to set us aside from others is desire.

What we all tend to forget when we see successful people, is their roads to that success. In this age of instant gratification, sometimes we all need little reminders and stumbling onto this podcast was a much needed reminder — at least for me.

Such a profound statement and a wise, wise man.
Chef’s Story is a program on Heritage Radio and available to download for free as podcasts. I’ve listened to almost all of them. The image on top is via Epicurious where Chef Keller shares his Thanksgiving turkey recipe here.

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