An Important Life Lesson from Gordon Ramsay

by Jason Kotecki on · 10 comments


Kim and I love watch­ing Mas­terChef on Fox, star­ring one of our favorite TV per­son­al­i­ties, fiery chef Gor­don Ram­say.  Mas­terChef con­ducts a nation­wide search for the best home cooks in Amer­ica, and through a series of excit­ing elim­i­na­tion rounds, turns one of them into a culi­nary master.

In the ini­tial audi­tion episodes of the first sea­son, the con­tes­tants have to pre­pare their sig­na­ture dish for the panel of judges in an effort to win one of 30 aprons in order to advance to the next round. As she pre­pared her dish, a young His­panic woman named Adeliz spoke pas­sion­ately about her family’s food his­tory. In a mis­guided attempt to impress the judges, she used squeeze bot­tles to begin draw­ing squig­gly lines of reduc­tion sauce on the plate.

It didn’t take long for them to sense a disconnect.

I can hear the pas­sion but I can’t taste it. You’re miss­ing the most impor­tant part, the heart and soul of what you stand for.” ~ Gor­don Ramsay

In an unprece­dented move, Ram­sey gave her a sec­ond chance. With a time limit of two hours, he implored her to drive home, raid her cup­board, and come back with the ingre­di­ents to cook to her strength, some­thing truly authentic.

She returned, free of pre­ten­sion, and made New Mex­i­can chile rel­lenos star­ring green chiles straight from her freezer. A dish she’d made hun­dreds of times for her family.

The judges loved it. They unan­i­mously rewarded her with a cov­eted apron. Ram­say encour­aged her to con­tinue to play to her strengths and stay authentic.

While this proved to be excel­lent advice for Adeliz, I think it’s a great life les­son for all of us.

You were cre­ated to be some­thing spe­cial. Every time you pre­tend to be some­thing you’re not, or hide your unique­ness from the world, you lose a lit­tle bit of that spe­cial­ness. You look more and more like every­body else.

School and soci­ety teaches us to con­form, to fol­low the leader, and to work on our weak­nesses in order to become “well-rounded.” We’re so used to it, we think of it as solid com­mon sense.

But it’s not.

You’re cre­at­ing unnec­es­sary com­pe­ti­tion for your­self. You’re blend­ing in to the crowd. You’re becom­ing both mediocre and invisible.

A school in our area recently hired a new sec­ond grade teacher. They had over one hun­dred appli­cants to choose from for one posi­tion. I’ll guar­an­tee you that the per­son they picked didn’t look like every­body else.

Here’s a fact: No mat­ter how much work you do, you’ll never lift your below-average skills to any­thing that rivals the efforts of some­one who’s nat­u­rally good at them. How­ever, when focused towards the things you ARE good at, that same amount of effort can eas­ily take you to a world-class level.

When I started out as a speaker (and an artist and writer, for that mat­ter), I nat­u­rally imi­tated the peo­ple I admired. It’s a great way to learn. But I have found that the more I unleash my own unique­ness into what I offer, the more uncopy­able — and suc­cess­ful — I become.

Whether you’re look­ing for a job, look­ing for a date, or look­ing for a way to be happy in life, the first step is to just be yourself.

Be your­self; every­one else is already taken.” ~ Oscar Wilde

It really is a lot eas­ier to be your­self than try­ing to pre­tend to be some­thing you’re not. The hard­est part is get­ting to the point where you feel like YOU is good enough. Espe­cially if you have yet to enjoy the suc­cess of some of your role models.

Let me tell you some­thing. You are MORE than good enough. You have tal­ents that no one else has. (At the very least, you are in a spe­cific posi­tion to use them in a way no one else can.) The world doesn’t need another (fill in the blank with your biggest hero), it needs you.

It needs your strengths, your pas­sion, your authenticity.

Be you. The world is waiting.

by Jason Kotecki

Jason Kotecki is an artist, author, and pro­fes­sional speaker. Jason and his wife Kim (a for­mer kinder­garten teacher) make it their mis­sion in life to fight Adul­ti­tis and help peo­ple use strate­gies from child­hood to design lives with less stress and more fun. Stop by for more tips for escap­ing adulthood.
Jason Kotecki
View all posts by Jason Kotecki

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Terie March 13, 2013 at 5:46 am

This is inspiring me today! I recently went to a training for a job with a fitness group and as I shadowed the instructor I kept trying to be like her. I got nervous and made mistakes. I’ve been teaching for over 13 years, I haven my own style and I think I need to let ME shine through next time I shadow. Thanks, sometimes we need to be reminded to just BE who we were meant to be :-)


Jason of Kim & Jason March 15, 2013 at 9:51 am

Yes, Terle, I often like to think of myself as a professional reminder-er. Glad the post helped!
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MrsFatass March 13, 2013 at 9:31 am

First off, I am the biggest Gordon Ramsay fan ever. EVER. He’s on my list of 5 and also my friend Heather worked on Kitchen Nightmares and has his cell phone number and can text him at any time and I don’t think I can ever be in the same room with her again lest I tackle her for her cell phone and sext him like there is no tomorrow.

But that’s not why I am commenting.

I think this is a wonderful post and it’s exactly what I needed to hear today. Thank you for writing it.


Jason of Kim & Jason March 15, 2013 at 9:53 am

Glad you enjoyed it! Also, I am so jealous of your friend!
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Allan March 17, 2013 at 7:40 pm

hey guys,

I feel like most people are too focused on modeling the next person, looking like the one in the magazine, or having the hottest abs, instead of working on themselves…

Jason, thank you for this inspiring article… reminding us of how important we are, and why it is key to re-connect with our “authentic” part within ourselves!
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Jason of Kim & Jason March 17, 2013 at 10:22 pm

Hi Allen, nice comment. It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes, a bit of great advice a friend gave me once: “A life of compare leads to a life of despair.”
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Delena Silverfox March 19, 2013 at 11:54 pm

Hi, Jason!

I love Chef Ramsay! Why have I not seen this show? lol I’ll have to look for it now. He’s one of my favorite celebrity chefs and he cracks me up. Have you seen his show on the BBC where he goes to a prison and teaches some of the inmates there how to cook? I’ve been enjoying that one.

Another quote about individuality is Kurt Cobain. “Wanting to be someone else is a waste of who you are.” I’ve always loved that.

The thing I’ve struggled with when it comes to my own writing is, while I’ve always had a natural gift for the technical aspects of writing (I actually do get chills when I read a particularly artistic, grammatically perfect sentence. I’m a geek, I know.), my own voice is somewhat off-putting. I’m direct, I don’t mince words, and on my blog I’ve been known to drop the f-bomb on occasion. For a personal blog, that’s fine. For a published author blog, it doesn’t seem to be doing anybody any good, least of all myself. It’s a struggle sometimes not to change, or to adopt a persona, that will obviously be fake.
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Jason of Kim & Jason March 21, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Rock on with your geeky self, Delena! Love love LOVE the Kurt Cobain quote!
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Frontlier March 21, 2013 at 2:19 am

I think I have heard about Ramsay but don’t know much. More than that I found this post really inspiring.
I have seen many people behaving as someone else trying everything from talking style, walking style etc. but later on as in case of Adeliz, when they had to be them self, failing to to the thing that they wanted to do.

I think the people who be the person that they are will eventually make something distinctively difference in this world.
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Jason of Kim & Jason March 21, 2013 at 1:05 pm

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