You don’t have to turn the television on long before coming across one of the many “fix my business” concept shows. Restaurant Impossible has been one of the recent successful ones, assuming you don’t mind the loud and outrageous personality of the host, Chef Robert Irvine.
If you’re not familiar, the concept is simple: failing restaurants on their last dollar call on Irvine for help. He shows up with a crew of designers and builders who do a revamp of the interior, while the Chef takes care of the menu and waking up the staff to what’s not working. Oh, and all of this happens in two days with only a budget of $10,000.
While sure, lots of people can find faults with the show, I think Chef Irvine shares some very powerful lessons that are great takeaways even if you don’t own a restaurant. Here are five of my favorites.
We all need someone in our life who can help us see our own reality.
While many people I know don’t like all of Robert Irvine’s yelling, here’s the thing: in almost every show I’ve seen, the people with the failing restaurant are asleep at the wheel. They aren’t seeing what’s happening right in front of them, because it’s too close. Or they’re pretending they don’t see it. Or they just can’t believe what is happening. Pretty much anybody could show up and point out some of these flaws (in fact, the customers featured on the show say it all), but Robert gives them a shake up, sometimes literally.
In life, hopefully we don’t need someone to give us a near-literal slap on the face, but we need people in our lives who can be honest with us and tell us when we have things we can’t see, don’t see, or are avoiding seeing. Whoever does that in your life, thank them.
The small details matter.
You only have to watch a handful of shows to notice a pattern: most restaurants fail because they aren’t getting the basics right. They’re not cleaning. They aren’t listening to customer feedback about the food. They aren’t keeping up on maintenance. The restaurant is too cluttered. The service sucks.
Really, that’s pretty much it. (Especially the cleaning one.) It seems like simple stuff, but often the simple details are what matter and they’re what are easy to get wrong. In life, some of the small details that matter are self care, drinking enough water, moving your body every day, finding joy in your work.
A specific story: There was one restaurant that made all of their own pizzas and pastas. They were really good. But they had a bland red sauce they used inside everything. Robert fixed that, and everything was much better. It was this one little detail that seemed so simple, but it was ignored and it ended up overshadowing those handcrafted pastas and pizzas.
Constraints drive creativity.
I’ve always known this to be true, but the two days, $10k concept highlights that when we are forced to focus all of our efforts in a concentrated amount of time, we can get incredible things done. This does not mean that everything needs to be rushed, but when it comes to problem solving and changing direction, constraints drive taking action, which drives results.
If there is an area your life in which you’re wanting to make some changes and you’re having a hard time moving forward, don’t think “the sky is the limit.” Think, you need to make a change by Monday, what could you do right now? Then, take a step.
Challenges make us stronger.
You already know this, but I’m going to remind you. When life challenges us, it makes us stronger. No matter whether this is a business challenge, a health challenge, a relationship challenge… no matter the shape or form, you can rise above your challenges. You can get past them. And you’ll be a better person for it. Just think back on all of the challenges that are behind you. You’ve come a long way.
It’s OK to ask for help. (Sometimes this is called training.)
Lastly, I can’t help but notice how many of the failing restaurant owners have no experience running a restaurant, and never really seemed to seek out help and expertise to support them. Or, key staff roles (chef, restaurant manager, etc.) are people with no experience and support.
Here’s the thing: you can do whatever you want to do, but sometimes you’ll need a hand. It’s ok to ask for help, training, advice. Just don’t wait until you’re hanging on by a thread.
I’ll close with my favorite Robert Irvine quote. Here’s the secret: I think we’re all chefs, mixing up the ingredients and making our own life, our own moments that matter, each and every day.
Photos courtesy of Food Network.