Recently I read a piece of news about young and talented American cook Grant Achatz, who recently won the 2008 James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef Award. (This award in the restaurant industry is equal to the Oscars Award in the film industry.) What impresses me the most about Achatz is not only his exceptional achievement within his industry, but his invincible attitude to succeed while fighting tongue cancer.
Grant was diagnosed with stage 4 squamous cell cancer on his tongue during the summer of 2007. His doctor said it was terminal, and suggested operating immediately to save his life. But the operation would involve losing three-quarters of his tongue.
In order to save his tongue, Achatz chose another aggressive butunproven treatment. Hoping to shrink and kill the tumor, he beganchemotherapy, followed by promising new drugs and radiation treatment.During this treatment, his face and tongue were burned and he lost hispower to taste. He had to wear a mask to cover his face.
I imagine that most people facing this situation would take a longbreak, and may even give up restaurant management completely in orderto undergo this aggressive treatment.
But Ahcatz did not give up anything. He kept on going back after everytreatment, keeping his team and continuing to run his acclaimedrestaurant, Alinea, up his customers’ high expectations. He evencontinued writing his cookbook, which is scheduled to be published thissummer.
Finally, Achatz did defeat the cancer. In December 2007, he was diagnosed free of the disease.
To me, this young man, with his exceptional talent and unstoppabledesire to achieve his vision, certainly possesses the critical elementsof a successful person.
To bear fruits of your work, you must work hard and overcome unlimiteddifficulties. Otherwise, you are kept from the ultimate success ofbeing a self-fulfilled person.
This young chef’s success story reminds me of a quote from an unknownsource: “ An obstacle is something you see when you take your eyes offthe goals you are trying to reach.”
To Achatz, he only saw his desire to operate the world’s finestrestaurant. Everything else was just noise to keep him from reachinghis goals ― even what almost killed him: cancer.
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