When I was just getting started in my career, a slightly old friend passed along some advice.
“If anyone important asks you to lunch,” she said, “make sure you order steak tartare and Scotch neat, just to show them how tough you are.”
My nose wrinkled at the thought of raw meat mixed with raw egg yolk and firewater for lunch. It’s highly probable that I responded with, “I dunno. How about a Cobb salad and a Diet Coke?”
Truth is, I’ve never been one to choose something just to make a point. It’s not how I’m wired.
Plus, even at a young age, I had decided that Scotch was not the distilled spirit for me.
I mean, Scotch. Just the sound of it conjures up people with expense account lunches and questionable moral underpinnings. Like club members at a club I wouldn’t want to join. Like your lawyer’s lawyer’s drink of choice.
I wrote off Scotch years ago with the throwaway line, “I am not grown-up enough for Scotch.” Oh, I had tried it, like everyone did. And it smoked, and burned, and made my eyes water, and was highly unpleasant. So deciding I wasn’t a Scotch drinker was easy – I merrily went along my way without the slightest bit of angst that I was missing something by exempting whisky.
Until, that is, I went to Scotland this summer and my mind changed.
Because there in the windswept Orkney Islands, I was finally taught how to drink whisky properly.
Hadn’t realized there was a right and a wrong way to drink liquor until a wise, gruff Viking of a man opened my mind and showed me a thing or two. Turns out I had been doing it wrong.
He taught me that fine single malt whisky needs to be treated the way you’d treat a fine red wine. You drink it warm. In a small, special glass. Maybe add a drop of water to open up the flavors.
I mean, who knew Scotch even had flavors?
You sip it. You let the flavors settle in. You appreciate the long finish.
You enjoy, in a slow and reasoned way.
And guess what? The whisky I drank became a pleasure.
The thing I thought I was not grown-up enough for became something I was excited to learn more about.
All I needed was to be taught by someone with deep knowledge.
Now that I’m home, I find my mind turning to other areas of my life where this might also be true. What could I possibly come to enjoy if I were just taught by the right person?
It’s a great question, isn’t it? And perhaps one you can ask yourself today, too.
Because the world is a big place, just packed with interesting things to learn and do. And, asking to be taught a thing or two by someone with deep knowledge isn’t a sign of weakness – maybe it’s your passport to new adventures.