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Work Lessons From Reality TV: Taking Criticism

Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionOn “Project Runway,” when Tim Gunn walks in the room with that dreaded velvet bag, the contestants know there’s a twist that will make their task even more difficult. However, the show wouldn’t be the show without the threat of the velvet bag, and the contestants won’t succeed unless they can prove they can change to fit the environment.

If you aren’t willing to learn anything new, you are not going to succeed in work, period. If you aren’t willing to adapt to changes in culture and technology, the rest of the world will evolve past you. Here’s some reality-show tips on how to stay flexible without compromising your integrity:

Try seeing your work through the eyes of another person. One designer, Mondo, felt that the skills of another designer, Michael C., were lacking and made that clear from the start. Then Mondo saw how Michael worked and got the memo that some people just have different methods. Eventually, Mondo admitted he was being a dick and apologized. Another contestant, Ivy, did no such thing and hovered over her partner, Michael D., as he tried to do everything exactly as she would. However, if she’d given him a bit more space, he might have been able to reproduce her look.

When life gives you a twist, make soup. The craziest change-up I’ve seen on any reality show was on an earlier season of “Top Chef.” During a quickfire, the chefs were working diligently on a main course. Then Padma Lakshmi waltzed into the kitchen in her glazed-stoner manner and informed the contestants that they had to turn a main course into a soup. I was baffled. It was the one time I watched “Top Chef” and wondered how the contestants were going to pull that one off. And some of them actually did. The ability to shift perspectives is an incredible skill. I don’t think I have it yet … it seems to be a gift, and I’d love to hear from others how they’ve developed that talent.

Image of a “Project Runway” dress by Uli Herzner taken by Eric Skiff. From Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons license.

Don’t be afraid of a do-over. On the inaugural episode of “Top Chef: Just Desserts,” a chef made plans for a dessert that represented chocolate decadence. The white chocolate mousse topping seemed delicious when she talked about it. Yet her mousse didn’t turn out quite right, and she knew it when she appeared before the judges. Usually, admitting that you messed up will please the judges, but the judges still sent her home because, according to one judge, she had plenty of time to prepare another mousse. If your first product does not work and you have the time and the resources, try it again. Just because you messed a task up the first time doesn’t mean you’re barred from doing it again for life.

Speaking of do-overs, tomorrow has tips for how to handle it if someone says you really do need to do something over.

One Response to 'Work Lessons From Reality TV: Taking Criticism'

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  1. Good way to think about things. If only everybody was as constructive as Tim Gunn! He’s devastating, sure, but he’s always right…and amen to do-overs.

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