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Becoming An Expert Isn't What It's Cracked Up to Be

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Robin Sharma recites the story of Pablo Picasso.

One day a woman spotted him in the market and pulled out a piece of paper. "Mr. Picasso," she said excitedly. "I'm a big fan. Please, could you do a little drawing for me?" Picasso happily complied and quickly etched out a piece of art for her on the paper provided. He then smiled as he handed it back to her. "That will be a million dollars." "But Mr. Picasso," the woman replied, flustered. "It only took you 30 seconds to do this little masterpiece." "My good woman," Picasso laughed, "It took me 30 years to do that masterpiece in 30 seconds." -- See more here.

I think of this story as I cook my family dinner. It Sunday, I've been up since 6:00. After helping my oldest son move, I do the shopping, run my daughter to a job interview, and put on some laundry. That doesn't even including the planning I did at 6:00 a.m. for my week ahead of appointments and board meetings, and my week hasn't even started yet.

While one sits in her room on her computer and the other lies on the couch reading the paper or the news on the iPhone, I make dinner -- a fantastically healthy one. I set the table, and prepare to feed my family. It takes me 23 minutes to do this. As I mention that fact that I am in the kitchen ALONE I hear comments that it doesn't even take me that long so what's the big deal. Seriously -- I have been practicing for 23 years and ironically it was 23 minutes to prepare this meal!

When I began preparing meals for my family 24 years ago I wasn't even thinking about making meals of this quality let alone it only taking under 25 minutes to prepare. It would take me a good few hours to figure out what to make and hours just to prepare, after I located the ingredients in the three different stores I'd have to go to. Now I am prepared and stocked. I think to myself, I'm creating a masterpiece, I'm an expert! And then the reality sinks in.

I do have kids that help, I have a partner that appreciates my meals, but none of them understand the tasks, planning, and organizing involved in this nightly ritual. Work, care for the home, care for the family, boy have I trained them. Every once in a while I NEED TO CHECK THIS FAMILY IN. A little rechecking and retraining of how we are a team and that is takes a family to run a house -- this house anyways! "It's dinner time."

There was a time, only one, that my second son expressed how EASY it was to make a turkey dinner for Christmas. So I opened the door and invited this cheeky son to play the game, he would have to show me how easy it was. We agreed: he would plan the menu; do the shopping; and prepare the meal for 18 people. He did it and with a smile on his face the whole time as did I thinking... "that's right, time for a check in." And true to his character, he proved that it could be done. When asked if he still thought it was easy he said "Yes," when asked if he could please make the turkey dinner again he said, "No." We both learned an unspoken lesson that day.
It's not easy for me to create partnerships around the house but I believe it's important to the health of the family.