On the couch: a blog on running a successful kitchen from performance psychologist Mike Duckett

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 10th October 2014

This is the next instalment in a series of blogs from performance psychologist Mike Duckett of Coaching for Success, helping chefs to raise their games in the kitchen. Optimistic Thinking and Being a Realist: (It's not in your genes: it's learned)

No matter what part you play in the hospitality industry one thing is for sure (as well as taxes of course) and that's that it won't always go your way. No matter how skilled you are there will be times when you miss your goal e.g. bad reviews are almost a fundamental part of being in business. This is just as obvious in business as it is in sport: "you can't win them all, no matter how good you are". psychologistThe big difference between elite sports heroes or high profile business 'winners' and the rest of us is not that we fail and they succeed; it is in their skill at rationalising life's ups and downs so they can come back from failure and go on to succeed - time after time. This is not about 'PMA - positive mental attitude' in the way normally taught, through affirmations etc. This is about learning a new way of thinking things through. A new habit which can be learned and then practiced like any other habit. That's right; optimistic thinking is something you learn just like any other habit. Top class sports people are good at this but like everything else they do so well, it takes practice! For great examples of what we are trying to illustrate here just take a look at professional tennis interviews when they come around next. You'll hear Murray, Federer, Djokovic and Nadal explain their win or their loss using this kind of thinking. When you next achieve a goal and/or when you don't, notice HOW you're thinking about what happened. There are 3 'channels' of thoughts about failure or success and you can tune each channel in a different way depending on whether you're thinking about a success or a failure: Personalisation: to what degree are you taking this outcome personally i.e. How much is this result down to you?

  • If you're thinking about a success - you've achieved a goal - then focus on all the things YOU did that led to your success and give yourself credit for those elements of YOUR performance. So for example, what did YOU do that led to that award or review? (Created the dish; led the team?)
  • If you're thinking of a failure then focus on all the factors that are not down to you; those factors that were never in your control- for a bad review, the mood and taste of the judges for example.Pervasiveness: to what extent does this outcome say something about you more generally?
  • If you're thinking about a success then focus on how this says more about you generally. So now you've won the award you can think e.g. about how that reflects on your outstanding abilities as not just a chef but an achiever in general.
  • If you're thinking of a failure then you can think about how this one outcome says nothing about your general abilities or personal qualities so e.g. when you've had a bad review you can remember this says nothing about your culinary skills nor about you as a long term achiever in business.

Permanence: whether or not you think the latest outcome has any bearing on what will happen in future pastfuture. If you're thinking about a success, think about the causes that are permanent so e.g. what long lasting skill or technique have you used that you can keep drawing on in the future?

  • If you're thinking of a failure focus on the fact that tomorrow is another day and the circumstance that led to this outcome today will be different in the future; history does not have to repeat itself!

I put in the bit in the title about being a realist because there is the generally held notion that optimistic thinking is about rose tinted spectacles and always looking on the bright side.....(that reminds me of a song!). That's not what this is about. You may regard it is no more than mental gymnastics to suit your purpose and so it is. The point is, it's how you can control your thinking to get back on top and start all over again if you've failed or it's how you can increase your chances of repeating a success.   Mike DuckettMike Duckett has a degree in psychology and is a member of the Occupational Psychology division, the Sports Psychology division & the Coaching Psychology Special Group of the British Psychological Society. He holds a diploma in Hypnotherapy & Cognitive therapy and is a certified NLP coach. With over 20 years experience he was one of the pioneers of applying performance psychology to coach people in the hospitality industry to get the best from themselves,  in areas such as creativity; leadership; optimism etc. As a certified NLP Coach and ANLP Accredited Master Practitioner, Mike has clients ranging from world renowned chefs, restaurateurs & sommeliers to up and coming staff in both the kitchen and front of house. You can see more of Mike's blogs at coachforsuccess.wordpress.com

In these challenging times…

…the hospitality landscape has dramatically changed in the last two months, and with that our advertising revenues have all but expired, significantly impacting our business. Despite having to furlough a large portion of our staff, we are still delivering the valuable content and honest information, which hundreds of thousands of you come to The Staff Canteen for. We believe we have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 12 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs, are something we are proud of. We have over 500,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector.

Your financial support means we remain independent and open to all. We were launched by a chef and remain the voice of chefs and other hospitality professionals.

We need your support to keep delivering the products and content that you love, giving you the platform to share opinions and inspiration. Every contribution whether big or small, means so much.
Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 10th October 2014

On the couch: a blog on running a successful kitchen from performance psychologist Mike Duckett