A plain, simple recipe

The other day I was at a restaurant trying to get a margarita. The waiter pointed to the menu and suggested some god-awful abomination that included pineapple and herbs. Before he could spout all of the ingredients in this hideous affront to civilized drinking, I put my hand on his arm and said, “No. Margarita. On the rocks. 1800.”

The light of comprehension immediately dawned. “Yes,” he agreed. “We’ll add a splash of Rose’s lime juice. Float a little Grand Marnier on the top.”

I love a man who understands me.

But the point of this digression is not to share my happy memory of the high point of an otherwise intolerable week, but to point out that there is no reason to garbage up a plain, simple recipe.

Here is what you need to make a margarita:


orange-flavored liqueur

lime juice

That’s it. You can drink it straight, or over ice, or frozen, with salt or without. But all it takes is three simple ingredients, and those exact three simple ingredients. A blue margarita or a margarita with pineapple in it or, god help me, a margarita with basil in it—please.

A margarita is already a perfect drink. Attempts to make it more perfect only screw it up.

I hope you, like the waiter, are starting to see where I’m headed with this.

We have work to do. We know what that work is. We even know how to do it. Yet we constantly garbage up what is a plain, simple recipe. We fuss about motivation and selling out and professional jealousy and conflicts at home and god knows what all to explain why we’re not doing the work. We invest in conferences and books and training and editors in an effort to convince ourselves that there must be a shortcut when we know better.

Here’s the plain, simple recipe for creating anything:


Do the work.

Get feedback about the work.

Do better work.


That’s our mission, but by god we will take every circuitous route we can find to get there instead of trusting in the straight, simple way. We will lack faith in ourselves and spend months—maybe years—wandering in the wilderness of doubt and indecision. We garbage up a plain simple recipe by loading it with all the existential angst we have accumulated over the years.

My challenge to you today is to accept that the process is already perfect. You just have to trust it. You just have to do it.


  1. Jennifer,
    In the way that these things always seem timely and perfectly appropriate, this post came just after I announced at breakfast that my priority today, finally and maybe not even too late, was to write. This made me laugh. I always appreciate that way you cut through the crap.

  2. You sure as hell know exactly when to the drop the bomb or in this case, 'slap me in the face'. Thank you for doing just that. I need it. Love and kisses from Borneo.

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