Pressure Cooker – By @luxetmare
In his Oxford Union address, Marco Pierre White talks about the adversities he faced, the pressure he was under to succeed and how you never throw in the towel, no matter the pressure, and even if you do, you pick it up right again and move on. Another 3 Michelin star chef on the other side of the planet Jiro Ono echoes a similar sentiment in the famous documentary made about him “When I was in first grade, I was told ‘You have no home to go back to. That’s why you have to work hard.’ …Nowadays, parents tell their children, ‘You can return if it doesn’t work out.’ When parents say stupid things like that, the kids turn out to be failures.”
Watching White’s protégé Gordon Ramsay in his various shows, who also admitted to sabotaging and framing his former mentor in a very there-can-only-ever-be-on-Sith-Lord sort of way, you see the pressure he puts people under his command. People find Hell’s Kitchen to be funny, but one could argue that it’s both verbal and physical workplace abuse.
It reminds me of the military. If you want to become a Navy SEAL, you’re put through the apply named “Hell Week” and if you can survive that, well then you got a shot of becoming one. As per Wikipedia, during Hell Week, candidates participate in five and a half days of continuous training. Each candidate sleeps at most four hours during the entire week, runs more than 200 miles (320 km), and does physical training for more than 20 hours per day. Candidates are not restricted from meals but even though they consume up to 7,000 calories a day they lose weight.
It all boils down to being strong, mentally and physically. You have to be able to endure whatever life throws at you. Being weak is not tolerated. Because then you’re a failure. One of Trumps’ most frequent insults is that someone is “weak”. It’s a very Spartan way of looking at things.
I often wonder whether I would’ve survived if I’d lived in ancient Sparta. Whether I would’ve been discarded as a little baby or killed during childhood. Because truth be told, I probably wouldn’t have survived long. And the way we operate as a society still I think is very Spartan. Nowadays we hear lot’s of platitudes regarding how it’s “o.k. to fail” but the rest of the sentence reads “as long as at some point you succeed” because obviously you cannot continuously fail. If you’re going to fail, fail fast, and fail quick, because you have to be successful if you want to survive.
But how conducive is such an environment to creativity? When I look at great artists throughout history, be it authors, directors, poets, painters, I often see that they come from means. Leonardo da Vinci’s father was a well-off notary; Michelangelo descended from a family of bankers: and Miles Davis’ father was a dentist and at the time the second richest man in the state of Illinois. As a matter of fact Danish economics professor Karol Jan Borowiecki in his paper “The Origins of Creativity: The Case of the Arts in the United States Since 1850.” notes that for every $10,000 in additional income a family makes per year, there’s a 2 percent increase in the chances that a child of that family will go on to identify their profession in the census as an artist, actor, musician, author, or similar creative professional.
So it seems that creativity flourishes once the pressure cooker is turned off, when people have the room to breathe. However much like the food industry, advertising is done by pressure cooking, there are deadlines to meet and customers to satisfy. And it does look like the pressure cooking method is working for the food industry, producing 3 Michelin star chefs one after another, but in an industry where 89% of the advertising goes unnoticed or is not remembered by the customer according to Dave Trott, maybe we could try turning the pressure cooker off? Perhaps we can dry age creativity for 28 days, marinate it, broil it, add a bit of garnish and then let it proof for a while, add liquid nitrogen and finally cook it on an open flame? The question is, is there a better way to cook creativity?..