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

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 11th December 2015
This is the next installment in a series of blogs from performance psychologist Mike Duckett of Coaching for Success, helping chefs to raise their games in the kitchen. image-11To remind you, in this series of blogs we're talking about what it takes to be at your best and do something really well. To help figure out all the factors you can consider we're using this simple model of performance or getting in the 'zone'. So far we've used the model to clarify thinking about several elements of performance from setting very clear goals to assessing what you're capable of doing now or learning to do in future, if it matters enough to you. Finally I want to go the deepest part of this model; who you see yourself as; your sense of identity. Imagine that you had met Mother Teresa and asked her who she was. Apart from her name she may have said something about being “a champion of the poor”. If she had said this to you, just think about all the other aspects of her that you now have a pretty good idea about without her having to even mention them. What do you think matters to (is deeply valued by) a champion of the poor? It’s a pretty good guess that ‘people’; ‘love’; ‘justice’ etc were key values of hers and that she probably had some strongly held beliefs about the causes of poverty and what was the right thing to do etc. You probably wouldn’t need to ask what she did with her time i.e. how she behaved – you already know she’d be likely to be spending time speaking with politicians; visiting the slums; comforting people etc.mike blog quote Now imagine that I take you to a party and introduce you to a stranger and they say, “pleased to meet you….tell me about yourself”; what would you feel comfortable saying that  begins with, “I’m………” Would you say, “I’m a chef”; or perhaps, “I’m a restaurateur”? If your goal is to have your own restaurant, or even a chain of restaurants, and you see yourself as a ‘chef’, you are likely to respond to events and do the things a chef would do because that’s who you are. However, what would a successful restaurateur think and do in these same circumstances? Arguably this is what lays behind the difference between the good performers and the great performers. I once worked with a woman who’s goal was to win the female cup in the World Rally Car Championship. When I asked her to tell me about herself she simply said, “I’m a TV presenter and I do a lot of professional driving”. Now, spot the performance gap (the one between the statement of Identity and the behavioural level in our model)! If you want to be up there with the world’s best you need to see yourself as a champion level driver (not a TV presenter) and driving needs to part of who you ARE as a driver, not just something you DO. quote mike 2You meet two people who both want to have their own successful restaurant and would like you to invest. One says he’s a chef, the other says she’s a restaurateur. Who are you going to back? Question is, what can you do to change your sense of identity? My version of this question for my clients is, “who do you need to be to achieve this goal?” If your goal is to be head chef then the answer is you need to start seeing yourself as a head chef. Years ago when I worked corporately, my boss told me if I wanted to be marketing director all I had to do was act like one now (when I was market manager) and then I’d be the obvious choice; “do the job and then we’ll give you the title”! So one simple thing you can do to start to change the way you see yourself is to ‘act as if…’. When a situation arises you simply ask yourself the question, “what would a successful head chef do right now?” – then do the same thing. If you keep acting just like a successful head chef you’ll probably get the same results as a successful head chef and you will gradually realise something about yourself - as the saying goes, ‘if it sounds like a duck and it acts like a duck, it’s probably a duck! 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

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 11th December 2015

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