Life Lessons from a Grill Master


Mr. Curtis is a grill master, 82 years strong and like a father to me. Recently, Mr. Curtis came for a visit to show me how to make ribs the right way!

As we spent the morning together over the coals, I found I not only learned to master the grill but took away some invaluable life lessons.

Here are just a few of the life lessons learned while cooking with Mr. Curtis:

1.       "Slow Down & Take Your Time"

"The first lesson about cooking ribs is to slow down and take your time. You got to cook ribs slow.”

Life seems to slow down when I’m with Mr. Curtis. 

He has a lot of energy, but he doesn’t move fast. He has survived five strokes in the last three years. He’s in good health physically and mentally, but the effects of the strokes and his age slow him down a bit. He’s constantly moving but he’s not in a hurry. 

Whenever I’m with him I find myself slowing down too. Not once did I check my emails, take a phone call, or think about my work projects. I found myself slowing down to listen, think, ask questions and relax. You don't get to 82 years in a hurry.

2.       Saying “Good Job” goes a Long Way

Mr. Curtis gave me instructions on preparing the meat and the dry rub. Being encouraging is a big part of his nature and after every step, he would say “Good Job!” 

We all need someone speaking positive affirmations in our lives.

As I reflect on our day together, I can’t even count how many times he said “Good Job”, “I’m proud of you”, and “I love you.” We never outgrow wanting to hear others speak these words of affirmation to us. It builds us up and encourages us to do more. By the end of the day, not only did I think I was the best pit master God placed on earth, I also felt encouraged that I could do anything I set my mind to do.

3.       You are Never Too Old to Have Fun

Mr. Curtis and I always have fun together. We laughed and talked about all kinds of things. I teased him because he kept misplacing his cooking fork. He had so many pockets on his overalls that he would forget where he put it. At one point I told him, "Sit down and tell me where it hurts." We both thought it was hilarious. I like laughing with Mr. Curtis. I guess it makes me feel good to know you are never too old to have fun.

4.       Others Know Things We Need to Know

Prior to our day cooking, Mr. Curtis gave me a long list of ingredients to buy in order to create the rib dry rub: onion powder, chili powder, paprika, brown sugar, white sugar, oregano, kosher salt, garlic powder, red pepper, and black pepper. I asked him to send me the recipe so that I didn’t miss anything. He said, “I don’t have a recipe.” It was all in his head. I recorded everything he put in the mix. A cup of this and a pinch of that. Every so often he would taste it and add something else. Until finally he said, “That’s it.” 

The results: The ribs were amazing! The absolute best I've ever tasted! 

If I hadn’t asked for his help, and taken the time to actually listen and learn from him, I would have never learned "his recipe." 

But it's not just the recipe knowledge. There are so many things he knows that I don’t. I had to value his experience, ask for help, take the time to listen and follow his advice. 

I am so thankful to have Mr. Curtis in my life.

Do you have a Mr.Curtis in your life? 

What life lessons can you learn by slowing down and taking the time to learn from their life experiences?

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