I know, that looks like a strange title. Truth be told, when I came up with the idea I wasn't quite sure what to call what I was going to try to make, and in the end it really didn't matter because it didn't quite work out how I had hoped either. For a bit more clarity, this was something Dad was great at, and this was my first... and last... attempt.

I wish it
looked like this!

Sometimes we try to do something that doesn't end up anything like what our mind tells us is going to happen. It's in this regard that I now offer the 5 leadership lessons I learned from the process of trying to bake something... stay with me if you've got the guts. 🙂

1. You need to have some kind of idea of what you're expected outcome is before you start anything. The idea for trying this project hit me while walking in the grocery store. I figured all I needed was the ingredients, which included hamburger, mozzarella and some pizza dough. I wasn't setting out to make a pizza, but something close to what my dad used to call a pizza loaf. However, I had no idea what was going to happen; that wasn't a good idea.

2. You can't be afraid to ask someone with more experience at something you're trying to do for some assistance, even if you're unsure of how they're going to react to your question. As a person I might not like criticism, but as a leader one needs to always make sure they have all the right information before proceeding.

In my case, I was talking to my ex, who was out of town, and decided to own up to the project I was going to attempt. Knowing me, she recommended that I make sure to get the flour out of the refrigerator and put some on the surface I was going to work with, on my hands, and on the pizza dough itself; otherwise, it was going to stick to everything. I learned she was correct, as I had to work hard to get the dough out of the package. She also told me to oil the pan, otherwise when it was done I might not be able to separate the dough from it.

3. When someone in the know gives you specific advice and you don't know any better, take it. She told me that kneading dough wasn't going to be as easy as I thought it would be and that I should look for the rolling pin. In my mind I saw the guys at the pizza shop pushing dough and tossing it all around, and I thought "how hard could that be?"

Turns out it was really hard, even though I'd let the dough sit out for 2 hours. When I got exhausted trying to do something with this stuff I went looking for the rolling pin but I couldn't find it, and I didn't want to call my wife to ask her where it was; you can understand that. lol I eventually decided to use something that was shaped like a rolling pin; no idea what it actually was. It did an okay job, enough so I could use the dough, but having the right tool might have made it all easier.

4. Make sure that everything you want to use actually works correctly, and be ready to change on the fly if needed. Through all my machinations I was able to get the dough spread well enough to add all my ingredients: hamburger, onions, mozzarella cheese. I had spaghetti sauce but decided I'd use that as a dip if needed. I sealed it up as best I could, then popped it into the oven.

The thing is our oven wasn't working properly, and I knew this but had forgotten about it. The instructions on the dough said to cook it 20 minutes at 400°. I did that and... well, it looked like a big lump of dough. I left it in another 15 minutes; nothing much happened. I decided to crank it up to 475° and it finally started doing... something. At just under an hour it was finished... as finished as it was going to be anyway. The crust had browned, I heard the sizzling sounds that should come from something freshly baked with meat and cheese in it... all was right with the world. Or so I thought...

5. Never be afraid to scrap a bad plan and then go with plan B. To say it was a disaster would be an understatement. With the first bite I remembered that I don't like the pizza at this particular store because I don't like the crust, and of course the dough in the package is the same dough they use.

Also, when you use mozzarella cheese, you really want it to melt fully, almost to the point that it's runny; that didn't happen. The hamburger was perfect because I'd tasted it before I'd added it to my concoction (pre-cooked it; the only smart thing I did), but mixed with the dough and cheese... inedible.

I gave it a few bites... actually, ate a little more than a few bites. Then it hit me; I didn't like it. Nothing had worked, and there was no saving it. I wrapped the entire thing up, tossed it into the trash, and went with plan B; a couple of hot dogs and a chocolate milkshake. Not quite what I had planned, as I had hoped to eat off my experiment for at least a few days, but that's life.

Sometimes a failure in leadership is having an idea without a real plan for implementing it, not researching it, and thinking that it will all work out through the sheer force of will. Luckily, it was only a $20 lesson for me. Hopefully, you'll learn from this story without having to pay anything. 🙂

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