If we truly want to innovate, we need to be comfortable being uncomfortable. Therefore anyone who’s uncomfortable to begin with has a distinct advantage. They’ve already got momentum, they simply need to learn how to harness it and tack into the wind.
If we truly want to innovate, we will hear it a lot: “That won’t work.” Are we creating something new solely to receive compliments? Neither praise nor criticism will feed us, but criticism keeps us hungrier longer.
If it won’t work, ask why not. Ask someone to show you. Ask them to prove you wrong. But don’t wait for their answer. Prove it to yourself first, objectively, dispassionately. Then prove it again. If someone shows us ‘why not’ and it rings true, we must immediately use it to improve our creation. Don’t wait until you’ve got all the facts. In the name of all that is holy, move.
Now we’ve got momentum, now we’re on our way to feeling really uncomfortable. Any small twinge of uncertainty will become a dull throbbing ache with time, as long as we keep pushing forward. But now we’re committed, and any time we hear “That won’t work,” we can say “No,” under our breath and keep moving. File those comments just like a sea captain notes the direction of the wind. Possibly relevant, probably not.
That dull throbbing ache will persist as long as we keep striving. Safety and comfort are always options… but we didn’t pursue this course merely to live a life of comfort. The forces at work here are much stronger than the desire for self-preservation.
That little donut we throw to the drowning? We call it a life preserver because that’s all it does! It doesn’t enhance, enrich, invigorate, ignite, or otherwise improve our lives. These are the reasons we cast off from shore in the first place. So hold fast to the helm and stay the course.
I’ll see you at journey’s end.
Real New England Clam Chowder
Keeping with our nautical theme, please enjoy this recipe inspired by Serious Eats. Just as your new creations enrich our lives, may this recipe enrich your meals.
- 1/4 pound dry-cured bacon, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
- 2 stalks celery, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 cup water
- 2 1/2 pounds live manila clams
- 1 quart whole milk, preferably non-homogenized
- 1 pound Russian banana potatoes (or any fingerling variety), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1/2 pound celery root, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 2 bay leaves
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Oyster crackers, for serving
- Render bacon slowly in a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until bacon has begun to brown and crisp in spots, about 8 minutes. Add butter, onion, and celery. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened but not browned, about 4 minutes longer. Add water and stir to combine.
- Add clams and increase heat to high. Cover and cook, opening lid to stir occasionally, until clams begin to open, about 3 minutes. Remove any clams that have opened and return lid to pot. Transfer opened clams to a large bowl, keeping as much clam juice as possible in the pot. Repeat this process and continue cooking for 8 minutes total, then discard any clams that have not yet opened.
- Add milk, potatoes, celery root, bay leaves, and a pinch of salt and pepper to the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to a bare simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes and celery root are tender and starting to break down, about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, remove clam meat from the shells and roughly chop. Discard empty shells. Transfer chopped clam meat and as much juice as possible to a fine mesh strainer set over a large bowl. Let clams drain, then transfer to a separate bowl. Reserve both chopped clams and clam juice.
- Once potatoes and celery root are tender, pour the entire mixture through the fine mesh strainer into the bowl with the clam juice, rapping the strainer with the back of a knife to get the liquids to pass through. Transfer strained solids to the bowl with the chopped clams. You should end up with a white, semi-broken broth in the bowl underneath, and the chopped clams, potatoes, celery root, bacon, and aromatics in the other bowl.
- Blend the liquid on high speed until smooth and emulsified, about 2 minutes. Return liquid and solids to Dutch oven. Add heavy cream and stir to combine. Reheat until simmering. Season well with salt and pepper, and serve immediately with oyster crackers.
Please note that some of the links in this post may take you to affiliate sites. To read my full Affiliate Disclosure please click here.