Executive Coach Executive CoachExecutive Coach
Scott Eblin offers his take on lessons in the news and his advice on your pressing leadership questions.

What I Learned from Julia Child on Friday Afternoon

ARCHIVES

My wife, the healthy food blogger (www.thewholegang.org), and I played hooky from work last Friday afternoon and went to the 1:10 pm showing of the new movie, Julie and Julia. (We were there with all of the retired folks and I concluded that that looks like a pretty sweet gig.) Anyway, it's a great movie - two thumbs way up from both of us. Anytime you have Meryl Streep (as Julia Child) and Stanley Tucci (as her husband Paul Child) acting together you're well on your way to a great movie.

In case you're not familiar with it, Julie and Julia tells the story of two women, Julia Child, who revolutionized cooking in the United States with the publication in 1961 of Mastering the Art of French Cooking and Julie Powell, who in 2002, made a name for herself by cooking and blogging her way through the more than 500 recipes in Child's cookbook in one year.

A lot of the reviews I've read of the movie (like this one from Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post) love the Julia Child parts and hate the Julie Powell parts. The basic argument of the critics is that it is so much fun to watch the passionate, talented and humorous Child create herself that the segments that focus on the self absorbed and whiny Powell aren't as entertaining or compelling by comparison.

Looking through my leadership lens (as is my wont), I think those criticisms miss one of the more subtle points of the movie. That point is that world changing success takes time and a motivation that goes beyond the desire to be famous. In his New York Times review, A.O. Scott notes that with Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Child changed 20th century culture in her domain in the way that Benjamin Spock's Baby and Child Care and Dr. Seuss' Cat in the Hat changed theirs. Julie and Julia does a wonderful job of showing the joy, resilience and sense of mission that Julia Child took first in learning the craft of French cuisine and then in the eight years that she and her partners put into creating a book to share what they had learned with an American audience. As the movie shows, Julie Powell's motivation in blogging her way through the cookbook was to stand out in some way and make herself feel better in comparison to her seemingly successful friends. In terms of motivation and life purpose, the two just don't stack up against each other and neither does the impact of the two women's work.

For my wife Diane and me, a critical moment in the movie was when, during his State Department assignment in post-World War II France, Paul asks Julia, "What is it that you really like to do?" She laughingly replied, "I like to eat!" From that realization sprung her passion and ambition to immerse herself in French cooking. And from that passion and ambition sprung the greatness of her life's work.

Do you want to be happy? Do you want to make a difference with your life and your leadership? Get someone you trust to ask you that question, "What is it that you really like to do?" Pay attention to and trust your answer and then look for ways to act on it. You may not come up with Mastering the Art of French Cooking but I'll bet what you do come up with will be great in its own right.

Executive coach Scott Eblin’s goal is to help you succeed at the next level of leadership. Throughout the week, he’ll offer his take on the leadership lessons in the news and his advice on your most pressing leadership questions. A former government executive, Scott is a graduate of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and is the author of The Next Level: What Insiders Know About Executive Success.

FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    View
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    View
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    View
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    View
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    View
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    View
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    View

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.