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What I Learned About Brain Fitness From a Head Chef

Taking time out to think is fast becoming a luxury item. With everything and everyone else taking priority, having the time to reflect on your life, work, business or brain fitness seems to be getting harder.

So when the invitation to join a three-day business retreat came up, where there would be no excuse to not put in the thinking time (along with some serious R and R) with a small group of incredibly savvy and smart businesswomen, it was a complete no-brainer.

It’s Not a Holiday

It was hard not to think of it as a holiday because we were in far North Queensland. The beauty of being in a magnificent environment far away from our “usual” place of work meant we were relaxed, unstressed and able to engage in some seriously good conversations about work, stuff and life in general.

Importantly, we had time to connect and get to know each other properly, sharing insights and experiences that created a circle of trust.

Beyond the think tanks and business oriented sessions, a couple of extracurricular events were included, including a “Masterchef” type cooking class run by Nick Holloway owner and head chef of the award winning Nu Nu restaurant (I highly recommend you try out his restaurant next time you’re in Palm Cove, the food is amazing). Held against the backdrop of palm trees swaying in the gentle breeze and the melodic sound of breaking of waves on the shore.
Yeah, it was tough…

Here’s what I learned about brain fitness from Head Chef, Nick Holloway.

Thinking Outside the Box

Beyond the curiosity and joy of sampling different foods (though I confess I did baulk at the thinly sliced raw Wagyu fat) the magic of the class lay with Nick himself. Sharing his story of how he ended up running his own restaurant in Palm Cove he spoke of his love of trying out new flavour combinations and the pleasure he got from seeing empty plates being consistently returned to the kitchen, of successfully minimising waste by using every component of ingredients used, and in establishing strong and personal relationships with his preferred local suppliers.

When we work with top quality produce to deliver our best, whether a coconut snow egg with passion fruit ice-cream, a White Paper or proposal, it makes us feel good. That quiet sense of achievement elevates our mood, motivates us to try harder and enhances collaboration.

Working Well With Others

Watching how he interacted with his staff it was obvious how Nick was inspiring them to always work to their best. He gives credit where it is due and is just as happy to serve a new dish devised by his sous chef as one of his own creations.

Happy staff that smile and engage authentically with customers adds to a dining experience that may lead to the possibility of either an enthusiastic recommendation and or a return booking.

How are you inspiring others (or yourself) to step up?
Do your staff/team members enjoy working with or for you?

Be Willing to Experiment

Nick admitted he doesn’t sit down very often to come up with a completely new menu. Instead, he works with key ingredients and plays with them until satisfied he has created something different that works.

Being willing to let go of ways of thinking or doing that have gone beyond their “use by date” allows us to keep our work fresh and innovative through continuous refinement. While we all have our favourite dishes, we can quickly lose the edge in an increasingly noisy market place, if we fail to adopt new strategies and ideas. Change adaptability is a key tool for success in the 21st Century.

How flexible are you when it comes to changing how things get done?

Love the One You’re With

It might be the Far North Queensland lifestyle, but Nick appeared happy and relaxed with his life and work. For Nick success is less about the amount of money he makes, (though his restaurant is clearly thriving), for him, it’s being able to follow his passion and spend quality time with his wife and family.

Our relationships matter just as much as our career. The support of family and friends keeps us going through the tough times and motivates us to strive harder when things are going well.

Feeling isolated, lonely or stressed leads to poorer brain fitness – poorer cognition or thinking. We make worse decisions, more mistakes and those negative emotions of fear and uncertainty can make us worry that Armageddon is waiting for us just around the corner.

Who do you go to when things start to go pear-shaped?
Are you investing in your support team by nurturing your relationships?

Brain fitness isn’t just about memory games and Sudoku. It’s about living life to the fullest, with joy, passion and curiosity. That’s what leads to high-performance thinking. It starts with deciding what’s important, determining your non-negotiables and implementing those ways of thinking to help you to lead the life of your dreams. 

Are you living a brain fit life?

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jenny@drjennybrockis.com

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