The pancake paradox

Sundays were for pancakes. Whether you were a participant or a recipient, you were in on it. If you wanted to eat breakfast in our house, as one tended to do, you participated in the weekly competition: pancakeoff. Pancakeoff was open to anyone, of any diligence, recipe, wherewithal, or ingredient. Only the competitive spirit remained consistent. The variability was in the method by which the item was prepared, and importantly, how much you were willing to gamble. This competition, after all, was about the latitude between conviction and risk.

Make the same pancake, the one you knew was a favorite — by its fluff, shape, density — and you had a rather fair shot at the breakfast honor. Yet vary what you knew — by blueberry, shape, flour — and you could risk the entire game. The pancake paradox.

Letting go of the familiar, doing these kinds of personal experiments, gives things a foundation; it marks the authenticity of our activities. If your patterns include only the familiar, the routine, the rote, the comfortable, you may be efficient, but will you discover?

New ingredients — the new addition of every item, product, person, routine — gets a rigorous evaluation before I add it (“Does this fit into…”). Being aware of any addition makes it part of the conversation and, importantly, there is now a conversation to be had.

What you include, and likewise, what you actively choose not to include is what becomes part of you. Being able to do so while being consistent with what you know to be true is the intersection between conviction and risk. And that won the crown every time.