I don’t normally like to write about current events, because I don’t want to be that kind of blogger. But there are some good lessons in the recent downfall, social media meltdown, off-the-wall crazy, out-of-control spiral that we saw occur early last week when Amy’s Baking Company became the first restaurant ever kicked off of Chef Gordon Ramsay’s show Kitchen Nightmares and then proceeded to lash out at the world through their Facebook page.
A lot of internet pundits have run around generating their own top ten lists to try to pull lessons out of the situation.
Most of these lessons were how not to fail at social media. Granted, a lot of people do social media poorly, but in reality most people don’t do it absolutely horribly, as Samy and Amy do. So, I’m not sure that’s the real lesson here. Or that this is the case study to learn from.
If you’re take-away lesson is: “don’t be batshit crazy” most people are going to read and think, “well, I’m already not a deranged lunatic, so that message doesn’t really apply to me…”
There’s a reason these people got on TV after all. That level of crazy is fun to watch.
But, the real issue here isn’t “doing social media like an imbecile”. It’s being so out of touch with reality that when reality slaps you in the face you can’t handle it.
And, honestly, that’s something we ALL struggle with at some point in our life.
Slapped by reality.
“…dreamin’ with a broken heart / reality slapped me! / you know how them good naps be…” – George Young
Reality is Your friend. Especially if you run a business.
If you expect to go to market with a new product or service, and you expect the customers to be lining up at your door upon release – that’s fine. But, when it doesn’t happen, what do you do? When nobody shows up what do you do?
The answer is not, scream at the top of your lungs, “you are all freaking stupid! How could you be missing my greatness?” No. The answer is to listen to reality and fix it. Does your product or service suck? Does your marketing suck? Maybe you’re marketing in the wrong place. To the wrong crowd. Maybe you have the wrong product. Maybe something needs some tweaking. Maybe you’re just totally off-base. Ask reality. It will tell you.
But, be sure to listen.
Honestly, there’s a time in all of our lives when we become out of touch with reality. How do you handle it when it happens?
Krauser recently wrote about his experiences in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, where he said:
“Our local club had an horrific churn rate as new guys would come in to class and not come back. It was easy to know who would stick around – the unassuming guys who had come to learn. It was equally easy to predict the first day dropouts. They’d be wearing some tough guy clothes, perhaps insisting on wearing a coloured belt they’d picked up in a sports centre grading mill. They’d certainly have a stiff pride about them. Then one of our scrawny blue belts would wipe the mat with them. The ego death was simply too much to take. Their buffer had been overrun and their self-image could not take the real-world evidence that they simply weren’t as tough as they thought they were.”
What’s wrong with these “tough guys” and why did they quit? Well, they weren’t able to handle the reality slap. Mainly, because they weren’t humble in the first place. They were too out of touch to begin with. [Check out my interview with a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practicing Vagabond from Japan.]
The same is definitely true of Amy Bouzaglo.
Wanting to be a chef and run a restaurant is a perfectly fine goal to have. Wanting to make great food is also perfectly fine. But, stepping into that situation by thinking you are already the best chef in the world and you don’t need to put in the time, hard work, and validation that all other great chefs have had to put in, is a bit off-base.
In that situation, reality is going to slap you. It’s going to bring you back down to earth. Because, you’re wrong.
Amy Bouzaglo’s acknowledgement of her own cooking prowess was so far out of touch with reality, that when reality slapped her we all tuned in. The crash was so monumental we couldn’t help but to watch. Smaller crashes happen all the time – but they are not near as interesting.
It’s the big ones that are fun to watch.
“The Bigger They Are The Harder They Fall”
This is also true of your reality gap. The larger the gap between your own inflated view your self and of your current reality… the greater the fall will be when reality slaps you.
Amy’s fall is monumental. So much so, that’d I’d be willing to bet, she never bounces back from it to actually become a renowned chef. The BJJ tough guys on the other hand – their fall wasn’t so drastic. They probably could’ve bounced back with some humility. “Ok. I just got my ass handed to me by a guy smaller than me. Wake up time.” But, no. Even in their case, the humility was not there. The reality crush was too much to handle.
It’s good to believe you are a little bit better than you are. That’s called confidence. It’s necessary to even put your foot out there. If you don’t believe in yourself, nobody else will. It’s something to strive for. To work for. To overperform. To reach. [See my post Overconfidence: Why “Faking It ‘Till You Make It” Works So Well for more on why a slight cockiness is beneficial for all of life’s endeavors.]
Then, once you reach it. Get a little more cocky. A little more confidence. Again, believe that you are better than you are, only slightly. Work again. Reach that mark too.
This is the normal case for improvement. For success. Reality may knock you down at times, but the ego blow isn’t damaging or crushing. It’s a learning experience.
This is what people mean when they tell you that failure is the best learning experience. Failure is only a learning experience if you are actually awake to learn from. If you’re too out of touch with reality, you can’t even process the failure. Much less learn from it.
“Snap back to reality/ Oh! There goes gravity…” – Eminem, Lose Yourself
Don’t get too out of touch.
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