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The Coaching Corner with Michael Riegel: Flour, Water, Salt, and Yeast

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Those are the ingredients in bread. Not necessarily the loaf you might pick up at your local market but the bread you can bake at home. That’s it. Four ingredients to produce a tasty, crusty, preservative-free, and healthy-ish loaf of bread that your family will love. I know because that is my hobby. It helps me clear my mind and feeds my natural creativity. Why is this relevant? In my work with clients, I like to help them dig deeper to identify the basics. Those basics may be what makes them happy or productive or engaged or stimulated or perhaps a good colleague, team member or manager.

It is easy to overthink or complicate a situation. This can often be seen in the development of solutions to challenges. How often do you come up with an elaborate solution and overlook the simple. I find a certain elegance in a simple, effective approach. The key question here is how can you leverage this idea of going back to basics to feel more accomplished?

Technology Can Be the Enemy

Over the last two plus years of dealing with and working through the pandemic, technology has become even more ubiquitous. I might say that we have relied on too much technology. It has not just been a result of the pandemic. With the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, we all now have advanced technology at our literal fingertips. This has led to fewer face-to-face conversations, assumptions of effective communications, and a focus on speed over understanding. Take the time to meet with your team or manager with some regularity – in person. Remember to leave your phone on your desk to eliminate the distraction of the buzzing, dinging, and vibrations.

Break It All Down

We work on complicated projects. Even our simple projects have plenty of moving parts. Getting clear on the destination lets us create a path forward and think through all the components. How far should we break things down? I advocate that the individual elements should be small enough to manage the risk of change and the unknown capably. That would apply to a personal situation as much as it would a construction project. What steps would be required to become a chapter President or regional officer? Once you have it broken down you can address them one at a time.

I don’t want you to think I am some Luddite who wants to take us back to a time without iPhones. I can see the value in greater technology, but there is a double-edged sword – benefits with accompanying liabilities. I just like to try the simple before I move on to something more complicated and, perhaps, risky in delivering the result I want. As for my baking, I still go to the basic ingredients first before incorporating fruits, seeds, or nuts. And if you want a great bread recipe, you can reach me at

As always,

Michael Riegel


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