When your favourite part of the cake is the frosting, why bother with the cake?
That's a lesson I was reminded about earlier this week.
You see, my wife and I had family over at our house this past Sunday to celebrate our youngest son's fifth birthday, which was on the following day. On Saturday, my wife asked Andrew what type of cake he wanted for his party. He answered "the one with the frosting", so she spent time making a cake (with frosting) from scratch.
But when she presented our son with a piece of cake, he took one bite and then promptly returned it to the kitchen. He didn't want the cake with frosting... he just wanted the frosting.
So the next day, when we were celebrating his actual birthday, we didn't bother with a cake.
Instead, we went to the grocery store and bought three different flavours of Betty Crocker Whipped Frosting. And that evening, after we sang Happy Birthday to Andrew, we gave each of our children a cup full of whatever frosting flavours they wanted.
It was delightful.
Some of you reading this story will undoubtedly be thinking, "That's ridiculous! You can't just serve frosting for somebody's birthday... you need a birthday cake!"
But do you really?
Serving a cake would have been the traditional way of doing things, but the objective wasn't to "eat cake": it was to celebrate our son in a way that would make him happy.
And what made him most happy was the frosting.
So if you ignore tradition and focus on the objective? We found a better way to do it.
I could extend the analogy further by pointing out that our "better way" also required significantly less time and significantly less cost than the alternatives, which would have involved either buying or making a cake... but I think you get the idea.
How many times do we do things the "traditional way" simply because that's how they've always been done?
And in doing so, how many times do we miss out on opportunities to find better, cheaper, faster, and more interesting ways to accomplish our goals?
When the frosting is what you really want, eliminating the cake isn't a problem, it's a benefit.
But don't take my word for it...
P.S. Granted, by serving our children cups of frosting, my wife and I have probably once again squashed our chances at a "Parent of the Year" award. This is a real shame because we were so close this year... Not.