Future-proofing yourself to win at work and life is both an attitude and a broad set of skills and behaviours. More than anything, it is about accepting that change is going to happen and we have to learn how to deal with it and get comfortable with being thrown the unexpected. Disruption is like a MasterChef Mystery Box Challenge. In fact, life is a series of disruptions of all kinds –  from the adoption of new technologies to relationship make-ups and break-ups; from new schools and jobs to a global pandemic and working from home;  death or disease and so much more.

I am always fascinated by how each MasterChef competitor comes up with unique solutions (i.e. dishes) when given the same mystery box of ingredients, none of which are their own choosing. Sometimes contestants like what they get and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they have never cooked with some of the ingredients in the box. Regardless, they embrace the creative challenge, problem-solving with what they’ve got. Interestingly, they often do better with limited ingredient selection and a narrow brief, than when they are given the free run of the pantry to make anything they like. Have you noticed that?

While MasterChef is a cooking competition, I think the personal development that contestants experience while learning and doing under pressure, is quite extraordinary. Imagine if we reframed our challenging experiences as mystery box competitions instead of problems? It is what it is and everything is ‘figure-out-able’. Everything you go through, all the positive and negative experiences, can help you be better than, or be more than, you were yesterday. They add richness to your repertoire of how you do life and how you accommodate and adapt to change.

There are two vital questions we should be asking ourselves every time we are faced with disruption:

  • What can I learn from this?
  • How can I grow from this?

The answers make the discomfort worthwhile. They are the self-reflection work that is necessary to keep you moving forward. At the end of the day, fear of change as a source of energy is not sustainable. But curiosity is. How curious are you?

Takeaways for winning at work:

  • When you have your next team meeting about a new challenge to tackle, frame it as a Mystery Box Challenge
    • Identify the challenge – what has to change?
    • Identify the ingredients
    • Set the team up in groups, each to come up with a solution so that you have different solutions being fed back to the group
  • You may want to do a team-building Mystery Box Challenge that involves a real cook-off in a test kitchen prior to having to tackle a big disruption conversation. This will help to get everyone on the same page with thinking out of the box
  • Do group reflection work using the two questions:
    • What did you learn from this?
    • How did you grow from this?

Takeaways for winning at home and life:

  • I find some of the most interesting meals are the ones that have to be created out of nothing. Don’t go shopping, rather use the limited ingredients you have in the pantry and the fridge
    • This is an exercise in resourcefulness and thinking out of the box
  • Get your kids into the kitchen and involve them in cooking and baking
    • It’s science in action as ingredients change state
    • They get to see how you can disrupt a recipe by changing an ingredient or oversalting a dish etc.
  • When something is tough like going to a new school or having to break into a new friendship circle:
    • Affirm that while they may be uncomfortable, you know they can do this
    • Help them to identify what they are learning from the experience and how they are growing from it
    • Self-awareness can never start too young (eight years of age is a good time to start)
  • With teens you can do cook-offs: parents vs teens or one teen and one parent vs the other teen and parent:
    • There is nothing like a bit of friendly competition
    • Create new memories you can dine out on in the years to come – “remember when….”

Words have power. Reframing a disruptive moment as a Mystery Box Challenge could open the door to a completely new way of thinking that may yield some interesting results. Try it. You may surprise yourself and your team.

Much love,
Nikki Bush
Human Potential and Parenting Expert helping you to win at work and life

Enjoy the podcast of the Refiloe Mpakanyane Show on 702, where we discussed this topic of disruption.