By Shaneh Woods
‘Tis the Season to make a Gingerbread house! As we observe the finished product, it is easy to get so taken up by the nostalgia and beauty of these creations, that we fail to see all of the details and steps that went into making sure that this cookie abode, would stand unwaveringly in the face of tiny fingers pressing it and mountains of candy being piled on top of it. From the most simple to the grandest, complex, ginger display, the same steps were followed in order to achieve the sweet success of this creation we observe.
And so it is with business. Many times we look at successful entrepreneurs and all we see is the finished product, all shiny and sparkling with success. But behind that success, lies years of hard work, dedication, and passion.
Let’s look at the steps that go into building a gingerbread house and see how it parallels with the steps to create a successful business.
Step 1. It started with a dream.
Perhaps it was the castle from your daughters favorite fairytale that caught her eye and instantly she could imagine a gingerbread ball for Princess Sugarplum to attend and fall in love with the handsome Prince Gumdrop.
Or Maybe it was inspired by the trip to London you took over the summer and you found yourself mesmerized by Ben… Big Ben, that is. And all you’ve been able to think about since is a British Ginger Guard standing next to a towering sweet timepiece.
Wherever your imagination was sparked, at that moment, a dream was born. But a dream will only stay a dream if it isn’t acted on. How true this is of business. Somewhere, someone or something inspired Henry Ford, Steve Jobs and YOU. A spark was ignited and now is the time to act on that by encouraging the flame to grow stronger, by “feeding” it with the logs of ambition and dedication.
Step 2. A plan is made.
Off goes the dreamer to their sketchbook and pencil or to the world wide web to find the perfect pattern. After the pattern is found there is the perfecting of the batter… It must be equal parts delicious and sturdy. Most likely neither the pattern nor the batter will be perfect the first time or even the second. This is a process of trial and error. But with persistence and a consistent, passionate desire to see their vision come to life, at last the plan is ready and it’s time to gather material and create something magical.
In business, this same step applies. A dream is great, but a dream with a plan is unstoppable. The dream is a constant, but the plan that will carry you to that dream, is flexible. Sometimes, the plan isn’t right the first time. Maybe it crumbled, just like too soft gingerbread or maybe your plan looked great, but when you really got into the middle of it, there was some key pieces missing. This isn’t a sign for you to stop, this is an opportunity, for you to believe in yourself and to show the world, that defeat isn’t something you’re willing to accept. You were born to be a champion, to be an overcomer… You were born to succeed. Rejoice in the victories, learn from the challenges, be persistent in your attempts, remain passionate about your dream and your “why” behind it’s importance and you will be amazed at how far you will go.
Step 3. Construction Commences
The dream has been dreamt, the plan is in place and now begins the arduous task of mixing up the pieces and building the dream. Additionally, the pieces have to be cut out meticulously, according to the pattern, so that they all fit together. Once the gingerbread pieces are all cut out, they have whisked away to the oven and baked to perfection. Not too soft, not too hard, but just right. While they are cooling, it’s time to whip together some royal icing. Royal icing is used because it hardens like glue and will keep the house from imploding. Next, out comes the candy and trimmings and with it, the crew of tiny humans who will help build the gingerbread spectacular.
What could possibly go wrong now? Well, there are wrong cuts to be made, over or undercooked cookies, icing that just won’t set up or tiny fingers that pushed just a little too hard and now the roof is caving in. Just because the construction is happening, doesn’t mean that there won’t be mishaps.
And so it is in any business venture. What is that saying by Robert Burns? Ahh yes, that’s it! “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Sometimes no matter how carefully you plan and construct, when it comes to the real show time, something happens. Maybe it’s in your control or maybe it’s not. Regardless of what happens, it’s important to remember that when it does, do not give up or let those hiccups, speak negativity and let self doubt into your life and confidence. Plot twists happen, they are what makes a book exciting and something worth reading, and they are also what brings us new adventures, new mountains to conquer, and greater success than we ever dreamed possible.
Step 4. Cue the Admiration
At last, the gingerbread house is complete and it is, yes, you guessed it, perfect. Through all the twists, turns and mishaps, the dreamer has persevered and now is able to bask in the sweetness that is success… for a moment that is. Because there is always next year and there will be new ways to make their dream and design, even better.
Once again, this is absolutely applicable to business. Once you have put in the time, effort, and determination that brings you to the point of success, you can sit back and admire that incredible accomplishment. For a moment, that is. In gingerbread dreams and in business vision, there is no true ending. Perhaps, an ending to a chapter, but as long as there is courage to dream, there will always be new levels of greatness to achieve, bigger strides to make and above all there will always be magic. Magic, you may ask? Yes, Magic. Magic that comes from believing that, “ If you can dream it, you can do it.” —Walt Disney
Shaneh Woods – Ring Master and resident Number Tamer. She is a ‘bookwyrm’, a music lover, a candy maker and the owner of e³ Services. She’s from Alaska, North Pole, Alaska to be precise, but please, no Santa jokes.