Twinkies or Pound Cake

Twinkies or Pound Cake

“The kettle’s on the boil and we’re so easily called away.”

I can still see Buford Makenzie “Chief Mac” sitting on the stool in the front of the room, all 6 foot 3 inches of him with his forearm crutches leaning against the stiff legs of his polyester pants and his custom-made black orthopedic shoes with the four-inch sole to compensate for his short-left leg. He was a hulking man. Even nearing 80, you knew his “disability” had belied his strength his entire life and his power wasn’t fading yet. It is true he had certain catch phrases he said over and over again, but so what! So does John Maxwell and Les Brown and every other guru out there. I am sure my kids think I do too.

Chief Mac would sit up there with his big hands raised to shoulder height and proclaim,

“It’s a mystery how all the parts of camp (therapeutic camps for troubled boys/girls) came together. It’s like a pound cake. If you take the parts of the pound cake separately, the flour, the raw eggs, the sugar, it wouldn’t taste very good and it wouldn’t be a pound cake. But somehow, when you mix them all together, and you bake it just right, you get something wonderful.

He was right. For eight years, it was my privilege to see the transformative power of that pound cake. I remember the first time I learned about the stages of group development during a Connecting and Therapeutic Crisis Intervention training.

Stage One – Forming

Stage Two – Storming

Stage Three – Norming

Stage Four – Performing

Stage Five – Transforming

People from other intervention programs would share that all they ever saw were the forming and storming phases in their facilities. They worked in places where people were looking for a quick fix. They were the kind of places where people send their kids off to get well – that was until the insurance coverage ran out and it was back home or on to the next place. No family dynamics were addressed. No issues of the heart were dealt with. No lasting change. Just a vicious and wasteful cycle and the system is designed for its perpetuity. They are serving up Twinkies when people could be enjoying homemade pound cake.

By contrast, therapeutic camping, which faces eminent threat of forced institutionalization from all the well-educated idiots, works with kids for indefinite periods of time while also working with the whole family. They don’t ask,

“How long will it take?”

They ask,

“How far can we (and should we) go?”

We all have to decide. Do we want the pound cake or would we rather gorge ourselves on the endlessly unsatisfying Twinkies?

The Twinkies of personal growth look like a quick fix. They are a fast and short-lived wow. The pound cake brings all of the parts together in a way that causes each to make the other more potent. The pound cake processes of growth are a slow “Wow!” but they last because they deal with your heart and soul.

Engaging in personal growth is like making a pound cake in a world of people looking for their next Twinkie fix. People who are still happily fooling themselves with messages like.

“This is just how I am…”

“I don’t have time for that.”

“I can’t afford it.”

But once you’ve tried homemade pound cake you are ruined for Twinkies. You finally pick up the box and read what’s REALLY in it. No Thanks!

Okay perhaps you are thinking,

“Hey Rick! A pound cake isn’t health food.”

Fair enough. But what I am describing is a process in which one step builds upon the next. It deals with both sides of your brain for the purposes of greater life success. It helps you understand yourself and your true potential at a level that doesn’t happen with a mere event or even a seminar. If you decided you were going to invest $10,000 and go buy all the personal growth and leadership books you could afford, it wouldn’t add the same value to your life, because this tool empowers your feet to hit the streets with better ways of thinking, and tools to develop new habits and routines that serve you best, and it has structures built in to make them stick.

It might be a slow wow. It might not blow you away right out of the gate and make you ready to shout about it from the rooftops. But, wait for it. When you start realizing you have new power to recognize the thinking and patterns that sabotage your success and then you make a better choice, and then another, and another…and wait a minute! All of a sudden, you are going down new roads. You are meeting new people. You are reacting less and responding more in a way that is in harmony with what helps you lay your head on the pillow with peace at night. That’s the pound cake I am talking about.


(as warm as the kitchen with the oven door open and the cakes on the cooling racks)

Rick Burris


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