Friday, 4 February 2011

You can do this!

Ways to spend a day off: the story continues.

I've spent a large part of today watch a TV show on BBC iPlayer called 'Michel Roux's Service'. The essential premise of the show is that Michel Roux, a Michelin-starred chef, has taken on a number of young people from a variety of backgrounds in order to train them over 8 weeks to become Maitre d's or Sommeliers (wine waiters).

I must confess that I like Michel Roux: I like the way he cooks, but above all I like the way he deals with people. In both Masterchef: The Professionals and this series his attitude towards those he is working with, as trainees or contestants, is always positive and affirming. When any of his charges start to display self-doubt he is always the first to say 'You can do this!'; he is always looking for good in them, and complimenting them on their good points, rather than focusing on their bad points.

Contrast that with the approach of another of our finest chefs, Gordon Ramsey, who has made his name as a brusque, foul-mouthed, angry despot, who, it seems, rarely if ever has a good word to say about those who he is trying to help, or is trying to develop as chefs. Maybe he's better than that, but his TV persona - the way he is generally known - is not, I have to say, a pleasant one.

What impressed me was the influence that Roux was able to have on these young people, one of whom had left school at 14, got his first ASBO shortly afterwards, and had no direction really in life. Through the series he was able to sort himself out, and win a scholarship to train as a Maitre d. But all those who took part found the affirmation they had received from Michel to be life-changing.

How much easier is it to find good in people, and to build them up, rather than to constantly tell them how bad they are? How much more motivated would our young people be if we had more Michel Rouxs; people who simply showed some faith in them, and told them they could achieve whatever they want to? And who are better placed to be those people than teachers, parents, pastors and other church-folk: but do they/ we do that?

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