7 Life Lessons from The Great British Baking Show
If you've not yet heard of The Great British Baking Show, you're in for a sugary treat... a treat that's measured in grams and mils and will leave you gobsmacked.
(I now disclaim all Britishization of subsequent words.)
The Great British Baking Show (or The Great British Bake-Off in earlier iterations) is... wait for it... my favorite show ever made.
I quote 30 Rock daily! I just finished hosting a summer Show Club for LOST even though I've seen it a million times! When I was a guest on Anne Bogel's podcast "What Should I Read Next?" she structured all of her picks for me around books that would be good enough to make me turn off the TV!
But this show is my favorite. Telling you why is another post, but today we're going to see what we can learn from these beautiful Brits.
1. It's worth it even if you do it wrong.
You've got twelve bakers vying for the top spot. Each week, they bake three different recipes around a particular theme like "sponge" and "biscuits" (that's "cake" and "cookies" to you Americans), and the worst baker leaves.
A lot of times they screw up, sometimes so badly that they get eliminated from the show. But every time a baker makes a mistake, huge or small, they learn. They overmix a dough? "Well, I'll nevah do that a-gain."
We try too hard to be geniuses about being perfect, but honestly the smarter perspective is to be willing to be fail in order to learn. If you move into a challenge of pastry-making or project-launching or child-raising with the knowledge that you will fail, you're not surprised when the failure comes. And then you get a clearer vision of what you learned.
It's jolly good.
2. Criticism isn't inherently bad.
Sure, it sucks to hear how you screwed up, but it doesn't mean you're a terrible person. It also doesn't mean you're doing the wrong thing. Every time a baker gets eliminated, the producers ask them "Will you continue baking?" It's such a dumb question to me, because of course they will! Is it really worth it to give up doing something you love because you got some criticism or didn't succeed as much as you wanted to?
Receive criticism through the lens of learning. Give criticism through the lens of love.
(And don't give it unless you're asked. For the love.)
3. Being you makes you prettier.
The hosts of tGBBS are two women named Mel and Sue. These chicks have regular haircuts, wear pink blazers and Converse sneakers, and aren't the blond bombshells with miles of cleavage that host every show on American television. But they're beautiful. You know why? Because they're themselves. They're smart, brilliantly funny, encouraging, and are confident in what makes them individuals. And because of that, every week, I find them to be more and more attractive.
Don't keep trying to "be prettier." Just be yourself, and you'll feel it naturally.
4. Pastel mixers and sunshine make baking better.
The competition happens in a giant tent that lets in light, and everyone has a robin's-egg-blue bench and bubblegum mixer. And it's lovely. Clearly we can't all bake in a bouquet of daisies, but if we could, we'd do it more.
Consider the way your space looks when you're baking or making anything at all; happy colors and sunshine should join the party.
5. You can compete with your friends and stay friends.
My husband and I have only a few fights a year, and two of them are when Duke and Carolina play each other during college basketball season. He went to Duke; I've been a Carolina fan since I could walk. We're in a mixed marriage. Your prayers are appreciated.
But over our 14 years of marriage, we've learned quickly that we care about the other person more than we care about winning. It makes for a watered down basketball experience, but I would rather Kaz be happy than have my team win. Maybe the bakers aren't that selfless, but on this show, they're close. They genuinely want each other to succeed, and it makes them all better. They become friends, compete with each other, and become better friends and - bonus! - better bakers. As a person who worries about destroying friendships over a game of Cranium, this is a lovely lesson to learn.
6. There's beauty in hard work.
Dessert is tough. Making things that change lives is tough. But if you don't do the hard work, no one gets to eat pie. Or read your book. Or be moved by your photography. Or grow up to be a person who makes the world a better place.
Being a baker/parent/artist/writer/person is so hard, but creating something that impacts other humans is worth it. Don't give up. See the beauty; it's there.
7. Paul Hollywood is a fox.
I mean. This man kneads bread and talks about pastry lamination, and he might as well be reading Shakespeare's sonnets. Perhaps this lesson isn't as applicable to regular life, but doggoneit he's hot and worth sharing.