The First Pancake Rule

The First Pancake Rule

If you’ve ever made pancakes, you know the rule: the first pancake always goes to the bin… Or to an impatient, hungry kid hanging around you. Or to a dog ;-)

I have no idea why, but the first pancake never looks good. It’s never round and it’s either burnt or undone.

The really interesting part is how we react to this weird rule of nature: everybody just kind of accepts that in order to make bunch of perfect pancakes, you need to screw the first one up.

With pancakes, we accept failure as an ingredient for success. Yet with businesses, we react opposite: we fear failure so much we don’t even start cooking.

Here is another rule of the nature:

It usually (if not always) takes a few screwed up businesses to launch a successful one. And it takes a few missed attempts to transform a good idea into a successful business. I know that  from personal experience: Cedric and I messed up many business ideas in our early entrepreneur days. Yet all those bad pancakes helped us to grow, improve and get closer to what we were meant to do.

Managing failure and learning from it, rather than falling into despair and giving up, is one of the most crucial skills you can develop. It takes a lot of humility, but it pays off big time.

So whatever you do, keep trying.

You will make that perfect pancake, promise.

photo by Gratisography

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Comment & Add Your Voice

Tendani August 28, 2017 at 2:39 pm

Thanks for the article,

It is totally true that you’ll fail many times at the beginning, but you only need to get it right once and you’re set.

Don’t be afraid to fail 10 times and get up the 11 times and win it all.


Anthony September 12, 2017 at 2:48 pm

Hi Dominika & Cedric

Failing to make the first pancake well, but continuing regardless of the mess – to hopefully make many great pancakes – is a great analogy for success. Because of course, all success comes after non-success.

I do have a slightly different recollection of pancake making.

It’s a while since I made pancakes. And I never recall the first one in a batch being terrible. If anything, my memory is that the first one was better than average – because I watched it cook from start to finish and got it near enough to the best I could. By pancake ten I’m wandering, thinking about other things – and burning the damn things! I guess – to me – any edible pancake is a good pancake. Shape and thickness, do those things really matter? I’m a pioneer and everything I cook is another experiment. Those people who can turn out twenty identical pancakes have my admiration, but I’m too much of a future thinker to ever achieve that.

The learning here? I think one’s innate focus determines what’s important, and it can be seen in something as simple as pancake making. Someone focused on possibilities – the archetypical ‘hope and change’ individual – will want to know a pancake is possible and people can be fed simply and enjoyably. But if you think a pancake is only a pancake if it is made precisely according to truths understood (a proven recipe), then only a system that ensures a uniform, reliably sized product will be any good – all else is not up to snuff! Probably that person’s first pancake will indeed be headed for the dog. And then there are the harmonizers, who want everyone fed and happy. A consistent supply, on time, is more important than precise uniformity – or novel variations!

So what is the perfect pancake? I believe it is a reflection of the perfect you: unique.



KG September 16, 2017 at 9:07 pm

It’s good to have this reminder and encouragement to focus on the positive learning experiences we gain from whatever we do. Thank you!


Valerie September 19, 2017 at 5:13 pm

Great perspective. It’s so difficult to get accustomed to making “bad” pancakes when I switch to a new project! You can easily forget how much effort and practice went into developing you talent for making beautiful pancakes.


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