I watched MasterChef last night, a BBC production that takes everyday wannabe-chefs and brings in Michelin-star rated chefs to teach them how to create beautiful, tasty dishes. It’s an amazing production, and last night was the semi-final. The three remaining contestants were taken to Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant where the Head Chef Clare Smyth trained them on how to cook a three-course meal. One of the contestants, responsible with the desert, needed to be very precise with the amount of sugar in his composition. 50 grams, to be precise. After spending 30 minutes preparing it, he added a spoon of sugar rather than weigh it to make sure it’s exactly 50 grams. Chef Clare Smyth saw that and asked him to redo it, despite the fact they were under extreme time pressure. He took it in and did it again.
That requires a lot of discipline and determination. Over the years, I’ve learnt that the best feedback is very often the harsh type. It’s stuff that hits you in the face and slams you to the floor. It’s not pleasant and it still makes me feel ill whenever it happens, but I’ve learnt to take it all in and use it constructively. I guess it’s kinda like the glass half-empty or half-full story. You take it in and suck it up or give up and go home. No MasterChef Award for you, so which one’s gonna be?
Caveat: one should also be careful never to confuse harsh feedback from people they trust with blind criticism from people they don’t. The latter should be ignored altogether.