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Strengths and Weaknesses

We are big fans of Gordon Ramsey. Especially his cooking reality show, Hell’s Kitchen. If you are not familiar, the show is structured like your typical competitive reality show. Each week there is a task, and after each one the weakest link gets sent home. Just like in the Apprentice, someone gets “fired” at the end of each episode. Eventually there is one winner left standing who wins the grand prize. In this season’s Hell’s Kitchen that prize is a quarter of a million dollars and a job at the head chef of one of Ramsey’s new restaurants in Reno.

In this season’s second episode, something extraordinary happened. Something we had never seen in all of our years of watching this show and others like it. When it was down to two contestants that Gordon was to pick from, one to save and one to send home, he asked one of them a question.

“Do you think you are a better chef than the guy standing next to you?”

We have seen this play out a million times before. The chef in question usually rambles on about their skills and says he or she won’t be in the relegation round ever again and they adamantly defend their right to stay in the competition. It’s a pretty standard response when asked that question. But this time something strange happened. The chef’s response to Gordon’s inquiry?

“No.” Then he walked forward, handed Gordon his apron, and walked out.

This has never happened as far we know it, on this show, or in any other reality competition. People generally fight for years to get on these shows, so rarely does one opt out when the going gets tough. But this guy, he was brutally honest with himself. He knew he couldn’t outcook the guy next to him, so he said, “Hey, that guy is better than me and he should stay in the competition.”

This was a weird turn of events, and it caught us off guard as we were watching the program, but honestly it was quite refreshing. This got me thinking.

In what areas could we all be more honest with ourselves that would help us improve our organizations? Our industry? Our relationships? I’ll give you a few that apply to me as examples.

  • Organization – I’m not the most organized person in the world. Generally I have everything together, but not necessarily in the most effective manner possible. That said, most of our team members at HUG are SUPREMELY organized people, and they have built an internal system for us that is really well laid out and with good structure. So their expertise helps me get more efficient each and every day.

  • Communications – This one is important. Nobody has all the right answers, I surely don’t. It is rare that when there is a decision to be made that a person can set aside their personal biases and make a clear choice (I’m guilty of this as well). That is why we need people that we can lean on for unbiased thoughts. People that we can communicate our idea to that can remove our biases (or as one of our old partners used to say, remove our “colored glasses”) and give us a frank analysis of the situation at hand. So not only are communications critical, but who it is that you have around you to communicate TO is critical. I’m fortunate in that I can not only lean on our team at HUG for their thoughts, but I can also garner feedback from family members, mentors, and in some cases even clients to get their unfettered opinions. It is critical to have multiple sources to glean unique perspectives from along the journey.

  • Just Being – Probably my biggest weakness is my lack of ability to just sit still. To just be. My wife Sharon is, however, quite good at just being. She has a great ability to just unplug, which over the years has rubbed off on me. While I still need a lot of work in this area, just taking cues from Sharon on when it’s time to knock out some work or some chores and when its time to open a book, I’ve been better at balancing daily life. This in turn, lends itself to a better me at work and at home. Still a work in progress for sure, but another case of using the superpowers of others around you to strengthen your own game.

Knowing what skills you have is important. It is equally important to know where you fall short. Play to your strengths and surround yourself with people that are great where you are not.

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