In our time together, I have learned many things from Michelle Rothstein, but what is top of mind today is the introduction to plantain chips. As I sit here crunching on this very loud chip, I am reflecting on the relationship wisdom it contains.
A number of months ago, Michelle needed to tackle a health issue and began an elimination diet with fairly extensive food restrictions. Being a serious chip lover and now not being able to eat potatoes, Michelle was determined to find a substitution that eased her loss. Her curatorial research skills led her to experiment with roasting plantains – she’d found her chip substitute.
Working closely with Michelle meant that I was privy to her thoughts and feelings about this plan before it started, and I was there for many meals as she was trying to find her way. The first relationship lesson is the importance of empathy and compassion. I listened, asked questions, validated her experience as she faced the loss of many of her favourite foods. For any food lovers reading this, I’m sure you too can feel her pain! When people around us are struggling, even if the struggle is one they choose and is good for them, it’s still important for us to feel along with them and have compassion for their experience.
When Michelle landed on the plantain chip and shared it with me, I felt her joy; and not only did I feel it, but I shared it back with her. This was a success and a great moment in what had been so far a ‘blah’ few weeks. Yesterday on the radio I heard an interview with Arthur Aron who was talking about healthy relationships and the importance of celebrating others successes, not just being there in times of difficulty. I was excited WITH Michelle and it made a difference.
And then, I slowly began my own love affair with these crunchy chips. I started making them and each time they were a disappointment. Realizing the critical importance of using a mandolin, Michelle gave me one as a gift. And then I triumphed. Michelle said ‘the student has surpassed the teacher”. And that is the final piece of wisdom I see – we are in relationship with others, we have empathy and compassion for them, and we support their successes; however, in the end we also need to bring the lessons back home. We need to make them our own.
It feels only right at this point to share the recipe. Enjoy!
A piece of advice – don’t eat these in quiet places or you will be get ‘the look’ from everyone around you!
Tamar partners with leaders and teams committed to growing their leadership capacity and impact. She has extensive experience with clients from the private, non-profit, and public sectors, and has worked with clients from a variety of industries including healthcare, education, finance, communications, marketing/sales, and media. Read more about Tamar