Business Lessons I Learned from Watching MasterChef


I have a confession to make -- I hate cooking.

Ugh, hate is such an ugly word.

I LOATHE cooking. The time it takes, the grocery shopping, the cleanup, I have a hard time understanding the love for it.

The Dream

I started watching season 1 of MasterChef with the desire to gain food inspiration, mix up my very-vanilla, bland menu choices and ultimately fall in love with cooking. As I watched the hopeful candidates compete for the chance to be crowned MasterChef, I wanted their tangible passion for making the perfect beef wellington, cheese souffle, and panna cotta to slough off through the tv and hit me square in the face like a sack of nickels.

I imagined being so inspired by the show that I would happily log off on business work around 4:30 each day to give myself ample time to prep and cook a meal that hadn't been on the menu every Tuesday for the last three years in my household. Grocery shopping would become a much-anticipated event rather than a chore as I proudly place vegetables I can’t even pronounce in my cart. My family members would join in on this new hobby, offering alternative versions to their favorite meals and helping me with the prep. We would chop up our food with razor-sharp knives quickly and skillfully without losing finger flesh. I would wear an apron with heels because I would be the queen of the kitchen.

The triumphs and the failures would look similar – I was there for the passion and culinary growth. There would be no real failures in the kitchen. The Reality

After watching four or five seasons of MasterChef straight while I worked into the evening, I found myself thinking this same thought every single episode. Man, I can’t believe they’re wasting 30 minutes, 60 minutes, 90 minutes to make that! And that’s when it hit me. I am probably not going to love cooking anytime soon. However, there are nuggets as delightful as pâte à choux that can be gleaned from MasterChef and applied where my attention and passions truly lie: My business. Lesson #1 – Watching (or doing) something over and over doesn’t mean I should be doing it.

Oh man, let’s say it, LOUD, for the cheap seats in the back! Watching MasterChef doesn’t mean I should be spending hours of my evenings in the kitchen leveling up my cooking skills, especially if I don’t want to. How often do we, as business owners, hang on to the work that we despise doing for far too long? All. The. Time. When we’re starting in business, that's our reality. We generally don't have the resources to outsource initially, but when we get to a point where we could outsource the work, we choose not to, citing reasons why we should hang on to those tasks.

"I've been doing it myself this long; I might as well keep on doing it and save the money.”

“It’ll take longer to train someone up to do the work than for me to do it myself.”

“No one can do this better than I can.” We don't understand that when we hold onto the tasks we don't like, it affects our passion and the level of JOY we experience in our own business! We didn’t go into business to do stuff that prevents us from moving forward and focusing on the work we WANT to be doing, did we?

Lesson #2 – Find the people who will encourage you along the way to balance out the individuals silently competing with you

The parts that delight me the most in this show are when the home cooks band together to encourage and support one another. As a participant gets glowing praise from the judges, you can hear the other cooks' applause and cheers. This part becomes more prevalent in the middle of the season with participant numbers halved, and you know they're feeling the strain of being away from family and friends for so long while undergoing their high-stress team competitions and pressure cook tests.

Oh yes, there's rivalry and opportunities to knock out their most formidable opponents, but the encouragement and kind words beat all these actions out. Not to mention how heartfelt and powerful it is to hear inspirational comments from the judges, even after dismissing them from the competition. “YOU are not just a cook – you’re a CHEF. NEVER give up on your dreams.”

“You have come too far to give up now.”

“You have achieved something that thousands of people only dream about -- Keep your head up high.”

Being a business owner can be lonely, isolating, and incredibly stressful. What can help combat these potential pitfalls are connections you make with other business owners and individuals who can relate to the difficulties of running a business and empower you through the good days and the bad.

Lesson #3 – Appreciate the journey

Whether you’re competitive or not, working towards winning the MasterChef title or hitting the next milestone in your business, it’s challenging to experience setbacks, failure, and defeat. However, watching the exit interview of each person going home reminds me of how important it is to appreciate your journey.

Contestants speak about what they’ve learned. They talk about how much they’ve changed not just as a cook, but as a person. They value the time they spent in the kitchen, and with each exit comes a highlight reel showing all their successes along their journey.

“I’m leaving this competition with so much more confidence,”

“Nothing is going to stop me from pursuing my dreams,”

"Many people don't know what they want to do in their life. I know now."

“Even though I didn’t win, being a part of this competition was the best experience I’ve ever had, and I’m going to take what I’ve learned with me for the rest of my life.”

How often, amidst turbulent business seasons, do we take a step back and recognize how far we’ve come? Do we take the time to compare the person we were when starting our business and whom we’ve evolved into and become? How much better can we handle what life and business throw at us now than if we were experiencing the same trials years earlier?

There is a joy to be found in the journey, even if the journey is arduous, twisting, tiring, and rocky, but you must seek it intentionally. Otherwise, the missteps, the delays, and the hardships can be all-consuming! I will continue watching the MasterChef series, even though I’ve officially let myself

off the hook to recreate any dishes or level up my dinner plans. While the beignets, bibimbap, and eggs benedict inspire individuals to follow their dreams, the courage, the risks, and the tender moments of encouragement will keep on encouraging me to follow mine.



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