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I recently moved house and was delighted when I realised that the cottage I was moving into had an Aga cooker. It has been a whole new experience learning to cook on the Aga and I am really enjoying it. The experts say that each Aga has its own personality and it becomes the focal point for your kitchen and even your lifestyle, because it is so versatile – cooker, place to dry wet clothes, appealing to the dogs as a place to lie down near, constant source of heat, and lots more.
Now if you are a regular reader of my blog postings, you will know that I often relate everyday situations to business or leadership. And so, whilst using my Aga it has occurred to me that the different parts of the Aga, can be like the different facets of our personality.
The Boiling Plate
This is the hottest plate on the top of the cooker where you can boil a kettle in just a few seconds or cook your toast instantly. It springs to life and is decisive in how it gives out its heat. You know there is no middle ground. If you take your eye off what you are doing, you will have missed the optimum colour of toast, or burned your steak. Each of us have a boiling plate personality at times. Decisive, quick to action, you make your views known with an energy and vigour that is unmistakeable. This facet of my personality comes to life if I find out about an interesting opportunity. I make a decision on the spot and the decision is often based on my core values. So think about when your boiling plate personality springs into action, and how to use it to best effect.
The Simmering Plate
This is the cooler plate that will enable you to manage the heat more easily. You can cook perfect pancakes or toasted sandwiches on it directly. It reminds me of the emotionally intelligent aspect of our personality. When you don't react instantly to a situation, but take a few seconds more to consider your response, and what the longer term implications of your actions might be. If you have a pan that is boiling over on the boiling plate, you can move it over here to cool down. Think about when you need to tap into your simmering plate personality and how it can help you manage your emotions.
The Roasting Oven
I have a two oven Aga, so the roasting oven is the best place for doing roasts, scones and other delights such as a cooked breakfast. The radiant heat ensures the food it cooked all round perfectly and does not dry out. This personality is like a great character, someone with twinkly eyes who always gives useful advice. They have been around a bit and got used to life, and are able to reflect, consider and be courageous when required. They are able to point out their own weaknesses but also have a handle on their strengths and have chosen to focus on what they are really good at rather than trying to be all things to all people. They have found the essence of themselves, just as the roasting oven excels at what its there to do. Have you found the roasting oven personality within you?
The Simmering Oven
Great when you want to warm the plates, cook a casserole slowly for eight hours, make meringues, leave your vegetables to cook in their own steam, and anything that takes a while. The simmering oven personality you can never hurry- they will do things in their own time. Every action requires logical consideration, thinking through the pros and cons, and attention is paid to every meticulous detail. If you want a steady, reliable person in your team, this type of individual will be there through thick and thin and are extremely loyal. It requires you to slow down, notice, feel, sense, and observe. Very useful when details matter with clients.
I think that we can learn a lot from the Aga. It is a versatile stove and the skill of its owner is to know which part of the stove to use when cooking different types of foods. I haven't burnt too many meals yet, but thats they way we learn – trial and error. I even went to an Aga cookery demo last week to watch and learn from the experts.
We need to be aware of which aspects of our personality may come to the fore in any given situation. Should you be decisive and direct, or detail oriented, or reflective and observant? The skill is knowing which behaviour to choose and just like I did last week, sometimes it worthwhile investing in a training course, conference or coaching to keep yourself up to date and to leave feeling inspired.
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