Have you seen MasterChef Junior? It’s the show where a bunch of 9 year olds are in a cooking competition. And they’re really good. The judges, like Gordon Ramsay, are constantly saying how some of the dishes these kids are making are fine dining restaurant quality. They know how to make dishes you’ve never heard of. They have advanced knife skills. They can do things like crack two eggs at once with their hands.
I can’t do any of those things. I’m still scared that I’m going to cut myself while chopping up spinach.
Cooking is something I’ve always wanted to learn. I can make a couple of dishes here and there, but it’s nothing advanced. I want to be able to cook my own healthy meals, be able to get a meal together for the family on a hectic day instead of eating out, and it’s something I want my kids to see in action so they also learn it.
With that said, here’s why watching MasterChef Junior is the most demoralizing thing you can do. If these kids are that good this early, what hope is there for me in my 30’s? No matter how hard I try, I’ll never be able to surpass them. I’ll never reach that level.
So what do I do?
Do I keep cooking like I am now, and assume I’ll be better at it 5 years from now?
Do I stop, take out a month, and figure out the most efficient way to learn cooking, from which expert, and which style? And by figure out, we mean watching lots of YouTube videos to see what is best, reading through a hundred Amazon reviews to see exactly which book is perfect, and so on.
Do I try to hunt down a super expensive cooking class from a celebrity chef?
Or do I just wait until I feel motivated to learn how to cook better and go from there?
The questions I’ve outlined above are the growth traps we all go through in learning a new skill. Any skill. It happens a lot at work. We might be motivated to learn something, only to see a hundred people who are 20 years ahead in that skill and we think there’s no point to learning it anymore.
These are significant barriers that hold someone back from their own personal growth. To succeed requires a mindset shift. It requires looking at both what you are doing on a daily basis to improve, and also looking at a particular skill from a bigger picture. That means seeing how learning a new skill might intersect with something you have – thus producing a unique insight or value add that only you can provide – even if you don’t reach expert level in a particular skill.
This is exactly the growth process we break down in the new Level Up class for professionals on personal growth and productivity.