Terri Hughes Blog

Learn From 10-Year-Olds

Posted on Thursday, February 19, 2015

Have you watched that TV show called, Masterchef Junior, where kids aged 9-12 compete in a sophisticated cooking show? They create complex dishes I can't even pronounce, but that's not what I see as most significant about this show.

Although this is clearly a competition, these kids collaborate, treat each other like true friends, and genuinely console each other when one gets stuck during a cooking challenge.  I've watched the adult version of this show, and the competition is fierce and sometimes downright ugly.  A drastically different set of behaviors.

Leader-like Actions

The kids are full of amazing talent coupled with innocence, curiosity, simplicity and a pure desire to help each other.   It is a powerful reminder of how we tend to lose or forget these qualities as we grow up and become adults.  

As Entertainment Reviewer James Poniewozik wrote, "...here are some other things you don’t have on MasterChef Jr. that you do on adult cooking competitions. Viciousness. Spite. Desperation...

MasterChef Jr. is about believing you can do a thing because you love it. There are broken hearts and tears; a young cook’s face collapses when she realizes that she served judge Gordon Ramsay a piece of undercooked chicken. Yet what happens next is wonderful: the kitchen full of competitors swarm around her, hugging and consoling and trying to convince her that, don’t worry, most of the dish was really good..."

Collaborative Competition

I watched one competitor actually stop cooking (during a timed event) to help a fellow competitor who panicked  with a sauce she was unfamiliar with.  He turned around, gave her a solution, and then returned to his dish.  Unprecedented in a timed competition!  This example of impressive leadership behavior is evident all through this show.  It's clearly possible to showcase your 'talent' and support others at the same time.

These kids are excited about learning (from the judges and each other) and are full of curiosity, talent and bright energy.  Why should we lose those qualities simply because we grow up?  It's a reminder that we have the capacity to compete and excel through healthy behaviors that express respect and care... if we just think back.  

Leadership Lessons

  • Stay curious.
  • Remember the joy in your work and life.
  • Look for ways to help others shine.
  • Ask questions to genuinely understand other perspectives.
  • Collaborate with pure intentions.  Focus on the big win, not just yours.
  • Build on others ideas.  Watch the collective energy rise.





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