Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Creator's Corner: Turn Your Limitations Into Strengths

In terms of our interests, my wife and I couldn’t be more different. I’ll nerd out on comic book movie adaptations. She’s content with a marathon of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. Occasionally, I’ll sit down and binge-watch the show with her.

There’s one particular episode where the show profiles a restaurant called Chef Point Cafe, located just outside of Fort Worth, Texas. The owner, Franson Nwaeze, came to America from Nigeria with the goal of owning a restaurant. The problem was that the bank wouldn’t give him a loan for a restaurant because he lacked experience. The only loan that he qualified for was a gas station loan.

Anyone who has done any kind of extended road trip knows the plight of finding good food on the road, especially when the snacks run low and you want to find some decent grub during your one of your mandatory gas station pit stop. Some of those gas stations have a shoddy little “Iron Skillet” restaurant attached to it. Eat there, and you’ll be lucky to leave with your spline in tact.

But what did Franson do? He took the gas station loan and turned the shoddy gas station food joint into a nationally-acclaimed restaurant.

This story fascinates me because it’s the ultimate application of the “lemons-to-lemonade” analogy. It would have been so easy for him to fall into a comparison trap and say “This isn’t how I thought it would be. Who the heck runs a quality restaurant inside a gas station?” He could have classified the bank denying his restaurant loan as a loss and allowed that to discourage him. Instead, he turned his limitations into a strength, and used the unconventional to create something unique. Now that story is a part of the identity of Chef Point Cafe, and has given the restaurant a way to stand out.

The point? Don’t be a snob with your goals. So often our ideas of success revolved around what’s been established. New, unconventional, or limited is sometimes unfairly viewed as inferior. A great example would be self-publishing, which wasn’t considered a respectable way to become a published author until very recently. It’s easy to look at your limitations and quit before you even start. However, consider your passions, seize every applicable opportunity, and always remember: you have to start somewhere.