08 Oct Lessons from the Great British Bake Off
I’m sure I wasn’t alone last night in wishing that I could reach into the TV to taste any of the three show-stopper cakes from the Great British Bake Off final. They formed a fantastic finale to the series watched and loved by so many millions of us.
As ever, there were of course lessons to be learned about the craft of patisserie, the skill of perfectly rising dough and the avoidance of the dreaded ‘soggy bottom’. But I was struck by three other lessons from the show.
- Be yourself
It always amazes me how one single, simple brief leads to such varied creations. So the 1970s vol au vents could become sweet or savoury, finely spiced or smoothly comforting, exotic or familiar. In a tent where technical excellence is taken as read, it is the personal approach and individual creativity which sets one person apart from another. The same is true at work – you are expected to be good at what you do, and there are probably others who have a very similar role. What differentiates you from your colleagues, or your company from another, is your own authentic approach to the tasks at hand.
- Be persistent
I reckon that four hours of baking under intense scrutiny is way harder than running a marathon. What gets you through both is sheer determination and a will to see the task through. So, last night we saw the bakers hard at it, right to the last strand of spun sugar. I was particularly struck by the persistence they showed despite set-backs. Tamal didn’t fare too well in the first two challenges but instead of giving up, he baked a stunning showstopper which won high praise from Paul and Mary. And while Ian managed to leave out sugar in one bake, and had some near misses with his showstopper, his carrot cakes were declared among the best ever tasted. The ability to focus on a task and deal calmly with set-backs are qualities we could all benefit from.
- Get out of your comfort zone
The biggest pleasure for me across the series was to watch all the bakers growing in confidence. None more so than Nadiya, who had us in tears as she said she would never again doubt herself, never ask ‘can I do it?’ because now she knows she can, and will never again place limits around what she can achieve. All the bakers have stepped out of ordinary lives and stepped way outside their comfort zones. They have benefited hugely as a result, not only in terms of skill or the opportunities that may now come their way, but also much more deeply in their self-knowledge and personal growth. The comfort zone is a lovely place and sometimes necessary, but if we spend all our lives doing what we’ve always done and being who we’ve always been, we miss out on so much else.
I’m already looking forward to next year’s Bake Off. And whilst I won’t be applying for a place in the tent, I will endeavour to stay true to myself, to develop my persistence, and to keep looking for chances to get out of my comfort zone. How about you?