I am not embarrassed to admit that one of my favourite programmes is Come Dine with Me. If you are not familiar with this very British of programmes, either four or five people from the same town are brought together, and each night it is someone’s turn to host a dinner at their home. The others give a mark out of 10 at the end of the evening, and one the final night we find out who has won the £1,000 prize.
I have often spoken with Maria about whether or not Come Dine with Me would work in any other countries, and while it may in some (and indeed it has been taken to places like Canada), in others the particularly British level of silliness simply would not translate culturally. Comedian David Lamb really makes Come Dine with Me with his gentle mocking commentary of every contestant.
Maria and I had been relaxing this week, December 31st, the final day of 2015, catching up on this programme which is not available in Brazil. While the programme is of course extremely light entertainment, and at times extremely funny, it was a great surprise to see such a huge lesson on staying within our power where you would least expect it.
This particular episode was filmed in Birmingham, and the final chef of the competition would be French Maitre ‘d Jean-Benoit, a very competitive foodie who quite clearly was both desperate to win, but who also took a huge pride, care, attention and preparation into his meal.
The first contestant had been Denise, someone who scored a very low 23, and who in the next three meals had pretty much refused to touch the other contestants dishes, finding all and sundry to complain about. As one of the other contestants remarked, why enter a food competition which is all about trying other people’s food, only to be so fussy and, to be honest, downright rude.
Clearly proud of his food, and very aware of how much effort he had put into his cooking, Jean-Benoit commented that he really did not want Denise to criticise his work as she had done with the others, and so what he decided to do was quite brilliant.
Denise had been saying how she preferred ready-cooked food, sandwiches and things from tins rather than what had been served to her. So Jean-Benoit decided that that is exactly what she would receive. While the others were served a delicious four-course feast, Denise would be served some shop bought patê as a starter, and for her main course a chicken sandwich.
While there was great hilarity all round, including the somewhat exaggerated Denise, it was a powerful lesson for someone so fussy, critical and bad-mannered. She received exactly what she had said she had wanted. As the others were tucking into their succulent courses, she was left to ponder he actions and words she had used against the other competitors.
Come Dine with Me is an interesting exercise in ego. If you are contestant, do you mark someone down even though their meal was excellent, as a high mark will clearly reduce your own chances of winning. Electrician Elliot for example was clearly wowed by Jen-Beniot’s efforts, and awarded him a worthy 9. Denise, clearly put out despite her outward appearance of enjoying the joke/lesson, only awarded a measly 5. Despite this low mark, strong scoring from the others left him winning this week’s episode.
So as you raise a glass to see in the new year, remember to always stay in your power. Jean-Benoit took a huge gamble, but he knew how good his food was, he was very mindful of how much effort he was putting into every aspect of his evening, and he refused to kowtow to someone who clearly had little respect for her fellow diners, even refusing to switch off her phone which she kept with her, and which would beep and ring annoyingly throughout the evening.
We who are makers, creating new products, services, programmes, companies, startups, books, websites and articles, we do not have to give our power away to those who do not appreciate what we have to offer. Our time is limited in our lives, our energy finite, and when we really create something of value, there can often be a delicacy there which we need to protect. We need to protect both creator and created.
As the Indian educator Sai Baba once taught, when a little sapling grows, an elephant can trample it. But if we protect the sapling, it will grow into a mighty tree, and will eventually give protection to the elephant from the sun and the rain.
I wish you all the very best for 2016. Stay within your powerful, and the results of your efforts will be powerful. Be mindful of those who would steal your energy through surreptitious means, and know that to stay in your own power is often the opportunity to be a powerful teacher, for those who have the ability to learn.
Peace to you all.