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

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