We are human beings. Which means it is a bit innate to become lazy at times (or for some of us all the time). Lazy can take many forms. Putting off chores, appointments, or just straight up sweatpants and a hoodie for a gazillion days straight. Lazy is usually seen as a bad thing, but in moderation and in the right context, lazy can be good and restorative. However that is not the case for what we’re talking about in this article. We’re going to talk about the long, hard, stupid way.
I was reading a book by John Mark Comer called ‘The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry’ and basically dead center in the book this quote came out. Here it is from chef David Chang in context. He is speaking to his sous chef who is cutting corners on prep work.
“We don’t work like that here. We do things the long, hard, stupid way.”
Whoa. And YUP.
Okay, let’s back up and give you some further context, then apply it to how we work, how we create, and how we perceive our everyday lives.
You may have heard of David Chang before, he’s reached “celebrity chef” status. Chang back in 2004 launched Manhattan’s Momofuku Noodle Bar, which has been featured on Netflix’s ‘Chef’s Table’ along with, well, pretty much everything. He didn’t come from a cooking background, and after a trip to Japan, fell in love with the process of making quality ramen and pork buns that are just out of this world. Since then he has helped launch Milkbar, the magazine Lucky Peach and dozens more restaurants across the world.
But as his temper may be short in the kitchen, his process and attention to detail is loooonnnnnngggggg. A 2011 talk by Frank Chimero about this topic described his process this way. “So in the kitchen, that means that they don’t use yesterday’s bread; it means that they make their own broth: they just do everything themselves.”
So, why? Why make things so tedious, exhausting and arduous? Because of one word.
He puts his care, his passion into his business. The experience Chang has in his head that he has imagined for his customers, he wants to bring to life. And if you cut corners even just a little bit and take away that attention to care and detail for your customers, you immediately compromise the experience for everyone, including the staff.
Let’s answer the three questions from the beginning of this and apply the long, hard, stupid way to them.
This is pretty obvious. We take our time. We don’t rush. And yes, we will always have times where there is a tight turnaround, but even in that we make sure we do it with intentionality and care. Don’t do what I call “sweatpants effort.” Basically, don’t phone it in. Show your clients, customers and everyone that you truly have their experience at the forefront.
Trust me, they’ll notice.
For the artists and creative minds out there, this is kind of what most of us do anyway. We torture ourselves in our own work, taking wayyy too much time and never feel like our work is good enough. But it’s for the same reason as above. It’s because we care, and especially if we are creating original art in any medium, it’s a reflection of us. Find the balance between overworking and releasing your creations into the world. Only then can you see how people respond to it, and you can grow positively. You want to see the long, hard, stupid way put into practice? Go look at the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel.
So luckily right now is the best time to adapt this concept into our lives. Being stuck inside (please, stay home, don’t be that person) is forcing us to re-evaluate our routines and how we treat our schedules, lives and in the end our mindset. It is forcing us to live sllloowww and to live with intention. Personally it has been a game changer for me. I now wake up with 15-20 minutes of solitude and silence, followed by an hour of reading a book, making breakfast, taking walks and just these little changes have not only allowed me to think more clearly, but actually has helped me become more creative during quarantine and using my time to grow and learn.
So, the long, hard, stupid way may sound terrible at first, but it is soooo good. It is something you can do to make your company better, but additionally and more importantly, make you better. Living the long, hard, stupid way in all that you do makes everything and everyone better. Especially pork buns and ramen.