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Too Much Success: A Recipe for Failure?

Screen Shot 2017-09-23 at 7.32.47 AMI’m on a seefood diet. As in, I see it, and I eat it!

And while I don’t really consider myself a foodie, I do get super excited when I have the chance to head to a one Michelin Star restaurant – usually only while only on vacation, and usually only on the splurge night (my most recent encounter was at the Rijks in Amsterdam right after they earned their first Michelin Star). When a restaurant hits 3 Michelin Stars–that’s the big time. I’ve never actually eaten at one, because they’re typically next to impossible to get into.

So I read with one eye brow raised this story of French chef Sébastien Bras who announced recently he wanted to renounce his 3-Michelin-Star rating and be removed from the book. He claims there’s just too much pressure in trying to maintain the rating he’s had since the late 90s. Apparently, other chefs who earned the distinction in the past but didn’t want the long term pressure would either close their restaurants or just change concepts. He simply wants to be de-listed.

What I keep thinking about is comparing Bras’ success with those of younger girls, who we tell often they are ‘smart’ and ‘perfect.’ These are the same girls who ultimately stop trying to learn or work on anything hard or challenging, because they will no longer be considered ‘smart’ or ‘perfect‘ in the eyes of those around them. These are also the same girls who opt out of STEM careers–they encounter their first challenge and back off, rather than diving into the challenge, rolling up their sleeves and knocking the work out of the park (for a string of cliches).

Bras feels ‘liberated’ for his decision, according to this article, and the more I think about this, the more I agree with his decision. There’s no room to experiment or be innovative when you’re ‘perfect.’ There’s no room to grow. And for artists (and I think we’re all artists because we all can create), it’s a death-knell to not have permission to experiment and have the autonomy to try new things…which can be the biggest failure of all for artists.

So, the next time you try to crawl your way into a 3-Star restaurant, or tell a 5-year-old she’s perfect, pause. Reflect. Maybe seek out a different standard–like innovativeness, creativity and even touch of weirdness, instead of perfection. After all, there is no perfection; thus, it’s impossible to sustain something that doesn’t exist.

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