For my birthday, we made a lunchtime reservation at the only two Michelin star restaurant in Lisbon, Belcano.
We chose a tasting menu, the “Menu Do Desassossego” – the Menu of Unrest (or Disquiet, as they preferred to call it).
This menu was a delight with lots of courses, surprises, a feast for the eyes, an experience for our tastebuds as well as total pleasure for our tummies.
In the hands of our host, we were taken on a journey. What were the stones on the table for? And then the teaspoon arrived with the red cherry to burst in our mouths.
What about the surprises of olives in different forms, presented inversely from what we would expect?
After our introductions with small surprises were complete, we were brought a seafood platter with seaweed and sea water, the contrasting flavours were just delightful.
Next came sauteed crayfish with bone marrow, veal tendon and white asparagus – fabulous flavours together.
Possibly the visual highlight came next – the garden of the goose that laid the golden eggs – egg, crunchy bread and mushroom – all edible!
There was still room for the braised red mullet, which was enjoyed in full.
Another pleasure for the eye was the disorganised Cubism of the milk fed lamb, where we were encouraged to eat from left to right…
There was a pre-dessert, just as a small extra, followed by a playful construction of a mandarin which was both light and delicious.
Even with coffee there were some tiny extras to delight and surprise:
The restaurant was relatively small, and it was possible to see all the chefs at work through a glass window – a total hive of activity!
And from our table in the restaurant, I could see some bookshelves, with the books held in unusual patterns. I spent over two hours puzzling about how or why they had been set out in that way. It was pretty, but I couldn’t see anything more than a collection of books.
Suddenly, there was a “ping” moment and it all became clear! It was not about the books, but the spaces between them…
The spaces, lit from behind, formed the sentence:
Para Ser Grande, Se Inteiro
… which means…
To be great, be whole
Our waiter was happy to explain this philosophy, which was that of the chef, José Avillez, to us. He explained that it is through bringing our entire selves to our work, that we can achieve greatness. And in my world, from my frame of reference, I believe it is through our strengths and our intrinsic motivation we can bring our entire selves to our work, and in this way achieve greatness.
During our meal we saw such strengths at work that day. The innovation, the pride in high standards and the work ethic – were just three strengths in action.
The autonomy and choices in the menu, the mastery in the presentation of the food and the purpose of food as something so much bigger and so much more inspiring than eating to live – could all be seen and relevant to the intrinsic motivation to the work in the restaurant.
Which brings me to the all important question for you:
How do your strengths and your intrinsic motivation show up in your great work?
And if you are not yet at the stage of bringing the great work you wish to be bringing to the world – how could you marshal your strengths and instrinsic motivation to help you achieve your aim?
If you need some steps in getting started, as an individual or as someone within an organisation, here are two suggestions:
- The strengths of innovation, pride and work ethic are some of those found in the CAPP Realise2 strengths tool. There are a number of strengths models available, here is one where it is easy to find out your strengths from completing the tool in your own time on-line.
- Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose (I call them AMPs for short) are sources of intrinsic motivation, as researched by Daniel Pink in his book Drive – the surprising truth about what motivates us.. Here is a short clip to help you get more familiar with his work.
We met the chef, José Avillez. He came and spoke to each of the tables to say hello and to check that we were enjoying the food. His interest in his work is palpable. He is clearly bringing his strengths, passion and intrinsic motivation to his work.
I urge you to find your strengths and your own, intrinsic motivation, to make your difference in the world too.
Photos by Martin How