To be like parsley

Food idioms in different countries

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There is an expression in Italian “essere un prezzemolino”, almost literally “to be like parsley”. I think the equivalent in English is “to have a finger in every pie” and the meaning is clear: it indicates someone who is always in the middle, who turns up everywhere. What I find amazing is the difference between these cultures on what it is that omnipresent: in Italy we use parsley and in the United Kingdom it’s the pie that’s everywhere.

Other than this taste difference, though, the reflection related to business that originates from this idiom is that sometimes we think the more we are seen, the more we obtain successes and recognitions, while those who are not always “in the middle” get pretty much unnoticed.

Well, this is obviously not always the case: in my mentoring experience, some of the young women I worked with had this very feeling, to be seen and heard every possible time by upper management, while instead I tried and suggest that their actions and results speak for them louder than any other initiatives.

Clearly these results need to be tied directly to them, and they have the clear responsibility to take credit for what they have done. As an example, I used to write on my resume’ “support this and that initiative” or “help launch this or that product”: my then mentor had a good lesson for me on assertiveness. She told me that if I was the owner and the responsible for that initiative or launch, I should have used more direct terms like “manage” or “own”.

There is a qualitative and quantitative difference between choosing when to speak and when to act, and strike a healthy balance between the two. It surely comes with experience, but we can help our mentee identify opportunities to step up…or step down.

Remember the parsley, there IS such thing as too much of a good thing!

Parsley is used almost everywhere in Italy
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