Push Through

9 freshly-baked buttermilk biscuits on a cooling rack

My wife and I have been married for 31 years and I love her more today than the day we were married. It was a busy summer. I graduated from engineering school one Saturday in August, got married the next, went on a honeymoon to Cancun (didn’t everyone in the ‘80s?), came back to the US and began my first “big time,” corporate job at Eastman Chemical Company. It was a great summer and a great time in my life. And the decision to marry my beautiful wife was the best decision I’ve made. But …

You knew a “but” was coming didn’t you (even if it’s a trivial “but”)? But after 20 years of baking bread, doughnuts, and homemade pizza dough, she discovered that she was sensitive to gluten. So our eating habits at home changed dramatically. No more doughnuts. No more homemade pizza, no more biscuits or rolls. Have you ever tried gluten-free pasta? Ugh!

So I find myself, on occasion, seeking out gluten anywhere I can find it. Not long ago, we lived in Connecticut, home to amazing pizza and Italian food. A veritable gluten-lovers paradise! But not so much for a gluten-free eater. Do you know how awkward it is to go into a great pizza place (like Pepe’s in New Haven) and order an entire pizza for yourself? So although there were great local places to get pizza and homemade pasta, we were rare patrons in these establishments. And, by the way, not a biscuit to be found. New Englanders have amazing food, but they’re missing out on biscuits, gravy and grits. Just an FYI.

When we lived in the South, the gluten found in biscuits was plentiful. It was easy to find in local and regional biscuits. Bojangles and Hardee’s come to mind. But alas, biscuits aren’t as popular in Nebraska, my current home, as they are in the South so in recent months I’ve found myself craving gluten a good, homemade biscuit. Buttermilk biscuits to be exact.

No problem, being somewhat adventurous, I decided to make my own. After all, a man craving gluten will try anything. So I secured a good recipe and made a plan. It just so happened that my daughter was in town for Thanksgiving break when all this went down. She, too, is a bread and gluten lover. So we made a deal. I’d get up early one morning while she was in town and make us homemade buttermilk biscuits if she promised to love me more. She agreed.

The morning arrived, Saturday after Thanksgiving. I had a plan remember? I’d get up early. Make the dough (flour, buttermilk, butter – simple right?), pop them in my iron skillet, bake them golden brown and then put some butter, honey, and jam on those slabs of gluten-heaven before heading downtown. It was her first trip to Nebraska and she wanted to go Christmas shopping downtown for her college roommates back in Arizona (Go Wildcats!). Fair enough. After all, it’s hard to find Nebraska “stuff” in Tucson. But only after we’d had a daddy-daughter date centered around those delicious buttermilk biscuits!

However, it was cold Saturday morning and I’d stayed up late the night before. I wanted to sleep in. Couldn’t we just go buy biscuits from Bojangles (oh yeah, that wasn’t an option). I lay in bed rationalizing all the reasons we didn’t need biscuits. Or how we could just go somewhere and buy some. Even if they wouldn’t be as good as homemade biscuits, who cared? I could get an extra 30-45 minutes of sleep. My daughter is sweet. She’d forgive me. Right? After all, I’d already made homemade pizza, bacon-wrapped little smokies, and grilled filet for her (PS you should always spoil your out-of-state college student when she’s home) during her visit home.

But, in the end, I decided to push through. I got up, put on a sweatshirt, went to the store, bought buttermilk, came home, made the dough, and put two iron-skillets full of biscuits into the oven. When she came downstairs, they were hot, flaky, golden brown, and perfect with butter, honey, and jam. And, in case I failed to mention it, they were full of gluten. Woo-hoo!

In all seriousness, I have an amazing, beautiful wife who provides me with gluten. But I wanted to make some homemade buttermilk biscuits for my daughter because we both love them and I thought it would not only be a fun experience, but would be a way for me to let her know how important she is to me and how much I love her. It’s also true that I really didn’t want to get up early on Saturday morning and make them. It was cold and I was tired. But I pushed through because I’d made a commitment and it was the right thing to do.

There are times when it’s necessary to push through. You don’t feel like getting out of bed. You don’t feel like working out. You don’t feel like completing that assignment. You don’t feel like making that call. You don’t feel like finishing that analysis. You don’t feel like “fill-in-the-blank.” What are you going to do? Great leaders push through. They do the unpleasant, the difficult, and the challenging thing. The action at hand may be something critically important that impacts thousands like finalizing a new law. Or it may be something trivial like making homemade buttermilk biscuits. But great leaders weigh the costs, consider the consequences, and then push through. Do you?

Hope you have a great week. Push through the next time you’re tempted to stop, quit, or give up. Push through the next time you’re tempted to avoid the difficult, but right, path. Make it a habit.

is an agent of change and is able to balance the needs of the business and the needs of people. Dr. Gerwig believes and practices the values of performance and delivery of business metrics while simultaneously developing and growing people into leaders. You can contact him at RobertGerwig[at]LeadStrategic.com.

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