When Gavin and I were first married, I was just learning how to be a homemaker. I missed 4-H the day we learned how to sew a button on a shirt, and I never had a Home Economics class in high school. Although my mom cooked every night, this was not an activity we did together. I guess I thought I would just be able to make stuff because my mom was good at it.
You learn how to cook by osmosis, right?
The first time I made mashed potatoes they turned out soupy and bland.
At 21, I was both health conscious and budget aware, so I made my signature mashed potatoes with margarine and skim milk.
Boy, was that a big mistake!
Good butter and real cream are essential to tasty mashed potatoes.
Since that first cooking fail, I’ve had many more disasters in the kitchen. Sometimes my disasters are the result of sweeping misguided attempts to act gourmet (like that time I tried to make a chocolate bowl using a balloon as my template) or just pure laziness (like that time I put the insert from the crock pot directly on the gas stove), but more often than not, my failings are the result of a single, seemingly inconsequential ingredient.
But any good cook will tell you salt isn’t inconsequential at all. Of all the spices I have in my cabinet (and I have more than 100), salt is the most important. If you leave it out, you’ll know.
Which got me thinking—is there ONE ingredient that’s essential to success in business and in life?
We create a recipe for success that includes hard skills like on-the-job training and experience, and soft skills like a strong work ethic, an ability to communicate effectively, and self-confidence.
But the most important thing—the one thing that ‘s absolutely essential to success—is someone who believes in you.
Someone who believes in you is the SALT that makes everything else work.
It reminds me of this verse we used to have painted over the fireplace in the keeping room of our old house:
Someone who believes in you (and tells you) is the most important thing.
It took months before I figured out I wasn’t really a bad cook; I was just using the wrong ingredients. Whole milk and real butter are ESSENTIAL to perfect mashed potatoes. But even after I started using those ingredients, sometimes I would still forget to add the salt.
In life, your words are like salt because there is nothing that hurts worse than an unkind word and nothing that soothes a wound quite like a kind one. I’m reminded how much we depend on them. From those first admonishments when language was just beginning and we heard this phrase:“use your words,” to the phrases we toss back and forth so flippantly in elementary school: “I’m rubber, you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you” to the lie that continues to sting long after the words have left our accuser’s lips: “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
Words matter. They are ESSENTIAL. That’s not new info. It’s like telling you the world is round. This post actually started out as an outline of five different things that I believe successful people do. As I wrote, though, I realized that success looks different for everybody. So I deleted a whole bunch of paragraphs. But even though our definition of success looks different, our validation of it shouldn’t. We should encourage one another and inspire one another to do the very special and unique things we’ve each been gifted to do. As I wrote, I realized the people I admire most, the ones who are building things and leading things and serving people, and creating beautiful art are doing it not for themselves, but for others.
And I realized something else: Every good thing that has ever come my way has been the result of a connection with someone who kindly said, “I want to help.” And likewise, the times when I have felt the loneliest and the worst about myself have been when someone has said something unkind to me.
I want to get life right. Right now, I’m trying to figure out how I can be the SALT for someone else.
One of the ways I’m doing that is by featuring women I admire on my weekly video cast, Mission Driven Monday. Simply go to our website and scroll through our blog. We post new content every single Monday. I hope you meet someone who inspires you. It’s our effort to validate the work Mission Driven Women are doing in the world today.