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Choose to Back Yourself

31 August 2016

The MasterChef competition is now a distant memory. Sadly, I’m not sure I can even recall who was crowned the champion of all home cooks in Australia recently. But their lessons on self belief and confidence are timeless and applicable … even if your cooking skills extend only to boiling water.

I love entertainment programs that focus on the strength of the human spirit. And to me, the MasterChef competition does a brilliant job of showcasing what’s possible when you combine passion, raw talent and the drive to succeed doing what you love. 

Here’s what I took away from watching just one episode ….

Choose to back yourself
At some point, each of the contestants made a choice to enter the competition. I’ve no doubts they each had to grapple with their own inner demons leading up to that decision. But they made that important choice to back themselves. Just for that, I tip my hat to them as it takes courage and self belief to even get to that step of applying to compete.

Throughout our career, each of us will be presented with windows of opportunity to step up. Whether it’s to put your hand up for a promotion, or to take on a bigger leadership role. At that point, let’s make this clear - it’s a choice that you make. You can choose to let your fears and self doubts rule the day, or you can choose to back yourself and step up.

Raw talent does make a difference
It’s obvious that the contestants have raw talent. Some more than others. The contestants who thrived early on in the competition focused on their strengths which helped them move up in the leader board. The best advice I ever received from my mentor is to play to my strengths.

Self awareness is a critical component to personal leadership mastery. Are you clear about what your strengths are ?  Are you in a role that best leverages your strengths ? Are you aware of and open to face your leadership vulnerabilities ? And are you getting the right help and support to address your development challenges ?

Practice moulds raw talent into mastery
I dip in and out of following the MasterChef Australia competition. Because I only watch it occasionally, I notice each time the striking improvements in each contestant’s skilfulness, creativity and confidence. You take raw talent, add a healthy dose of challenging assignments to sharpen their skills, stick all this into a pressure cooker and turn up the heat. Adjust along the way with a pinch of mentoring and guidance  …. and what gets served up is impressive mastery topped with heaping ladels of confidence.

So the lesson here - Are you pushing yourself to step out of your comfort zone with bigger challenges to hone your skills ? 

Why is this so important to you ?
This is a question asked often by the judges during the competition. And especially during critical moments when the contestant is at a breaking point. The intent is clear -  the judges are trying to remind the contestant why they signed up in the first place. 

I love witnessing the transformation at that very moment. That make or break moment when they dig deep to find the resilience to push through. For some, they rise to their full potential and excel at new levels, beyond what they ever thought they were capable of. 

All of us will reach breaking points at various stages of our career … or during particularly stressful times, maybe even at various points in the week ! Finding your personal source of resilience is critical to both your leadership and business success. 

Finding your tribe
In one episode, a contestant said “I love being in an environment where people get what you’re talking about”. As humans, we have an innate desire to feel a sense of belonging. Don’t underestimate the resilience building effects of finding your tribe. Working in a company culture that shares your values, feeling like part of a team or cultivating a support structure outside of work are all important aspects that build your resilience.

I was reminded of many important lessons from watching just that one episode. Of all of them, perhaps the strongest lesson is the reminder to always choose to back yourself. 

Because when you do, remarkable things happen.


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