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Essay: Order the Special

Years ago, a friend gave me some good advice about eating on the road: “Order the special.” Those simple everyday restaurants offer a “Special” because it’s what they do best—and you’re wise to take their word for it.

I learned this lesson firsthand when our parents took my brother and me out West for a vacation. I loved bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches so I ordered one for lunch every day. But either the bacon was burned, the lettuce was brown, or the tomato wasn’t ripe. I should have ordered
the burger.

I realized later that “Order the Special” could also apply to the workplace. When my boss asked me to do something, I was much more willing—and able—if it was my specialty. Ask me to write something or interview someone, but don’t ask me to raise money or balance the budget.

I’ve been guilty of making the same mistake with friends and family—asking someone for something they didn’t have and then blaming them for disappointing me. We all have areas of strength and what might be called “opportunities for improvement.”

But until I improve, please just lean on my strengths. If you order the special, I’ll deliver.