By Raju Mandhyan
A YEAR ends and another begins. The best use of this turn of time is to measure performance and achievements. To look back, appreciate and learn or to look ahead, plan and then execute.
Every year, we make new plans, set goals, roll up our sleeves, and get to work. It is all a good thing and it is the only thing that makes sense to being human in a larger sense. Thus, some wise old man mentioned we are not human beings, we are human doings. Ha ha!
Talking about doing things and doing them right, here is a lovely story that pops up on the desktop of my mind whenever I put together a project, and plan to execute it.
The story was featured in one of the issues of Reader’s Digest in the late 1960s which I read as a kid in India. The article was titled “How To Eat an Ice-Cream Cone” written by Lawrence Rust Hills, author of How to Do Things Right by Bantam Books. The article was initially published in the August 24, 1968, issue of The New Yorker before being published in Reader’s Digest.
When you first get an ice-cream cone, Lawrence Rust Hills advises you to hold it gently somewhere in the middle with your thumb and three fingers and your pinky finger sticking out. Step away and stand apart from the usual crowd that surrounds the ice-cream vendor.
Size up the ice cream; do a quick scan of its weight, center of gravity, tilt and its melting state all in relation to the environment around you. Bend forward by 25 degrees and raise your elbow of the hand that holds the ice cream so your full arm is nearly parallel to the ground.
Survey the sides of the cone for dripping goblets and compare it to the bottom tip where there usually is a hole. The danger of an ice-cream crash landing is possible at either of these ends so do a quick mental assessment and choose which side to save first, the top of the bottom.
With the decision made, remain bent forward by a maximum of 25 degrees and then stick out your tongue, rapidly licking for damage control. Move rapidly from one end to another until the threat of falling is reduced, then straighten up and take a quick breath.
Again, bend forward by 25 degrees and work on the dollops of cream on top, licking it in laps as you swirl the cone around between the thumb and the fingers, pinky finger still sticking out. Round and round goes the ice-cream cone, as you occasionally check the bottom tip. In about two minutes, you will have balanced all the sides of the cream. The danger will have diminished, but is not totally gone.
Next, start taking kiss-like bites of the cream and give the top a gentle push with your lips. This will push the ice cream deeper into the cone where it is many times safer. You can now take a moment to look around if there’s competition beating you to winning the ice-cream eating challenge or if someone may snatch your business away.
You are now nearing a close. Gently continue nibbling and licking until the ice cream shrinks down to a size a bit bigger than your thumb. The deal is almost done. Because you were focused on the gentle handling of the ice cream, you haven’t realized you are now standing up straight, having relinquished your bent-down position some time ago.
The penultimate stage of this hearty ice-cream eating process is to hold the little cone up in air as you would hold up a glass of champagne for a toast. Then, let that cone drop down into your throat. Gulp, you have a close. Mission accomplished. You’ve done it — the ice-cream cone is happy and so are you, not just for the moment but for a long time after and until it is time for another ice-cream cone in this delicious journey of doing things right.
Raju Mandhyan is an author, coach and speaker.