I'm a huge Gordon Ramsey fan. No bull, no pretense, innovative thinker, quick to get the pulse of a situation, focuses on quality over quantity, and despite his reputation as an angry, drill-instructor chef, he seems to genuinely care about and enjoy the people he interacts with.
I watch pretty much all of his shows when I can. My personal favorite is Kitchen Nightmares. For those unfamiliar with it, the premise of the show is Ramsey being invited by restaurant owners to visit, advise, and help turn around their struggling or failing restaurants. A common theme has emerged in at least 90% of the episodes, both from his UK version of the show and in the US version - the owners all express their great desire for Ramsey to help them, and their overwhelming commitment to heeding his advice and to change what needs to be changed...until Ramsey actually starts critiquing and starts demanding change, which is when all hell breaks loose. The rub is simple...
Faaaaaaar more often than not, when people say they want to change, or when people say they're willing to change, what they really want is for everyone and everything around them to change while they stay the same. They want the "change" to be validation that who they are and what they're doing is right and perfect and wonderful, and acknowledgement that the wrongs and imperfections rest in the hands of everyone else.
As far as the restaurant owners and chefs on Kitchen Nightmares, what they really want is for Ramsey to tell them how awesome their restaurant is, how awesome the food is, et cetera, and that the problem is the ignorance of the clientele. Usually, the restaurants are a mess in more ways than financial, the food is atrocious, and the service is poor. They don't want to hear that. That would require real change on their part. It's easier on their psyche to believe that the restaurant is empty because the customers are ignorant. Lots of denial. I remember an exchange between Ramsey and a chef that went something like this...
Ramsey: You're serving instant mashed potatos?! Come on! Instant?! That's the best you can do?!
Chef: (defensive) The people like them. I've never had any complaints.
Ramsey: What people, you stupid @#$%?! The dining room is @#$%ing empty! Wake up!!!
That's typical. It's typical of people in general, too. Not only does Ramsey have to work on the general culture of the restaurant, but he has to bring the people involved to the point that they'll wipe everything off the table and start over in their thinking and concept, because if the people never change, the culture of the restaurant will never experience lasting change. Sometimes there are individuals on staff who see the need to change and want to change, but they aren't the owners and have no real power, they end up marginalized, and have to either leave or get swept up in and contribute to the failing culture. Sometimes the owners are loyal to terrible, unqualified, and sometimes outright lazy chefs and staff members, and come to the realization that if they keep the bad chef or staff it'll kill the business. They have to make tough decisions that could (and probably do) leave permanent craters in longstanding relationships.
Until they become totally, and genuinely, willing to change, there's little Ramsey can do to help them. Unless and until they change, he could give them Disney World and they'd just turn it into an empty, dilapidated fairground. Those who do change usually revive and recover their business. Those who don't usually end up with the doors locked - sometimes within weeks.
Change isn't easy. Quality change isn't about comfort, about ease, about not ruffling feathers (including your own). It's about doing what's right, what's necessary, what matters.
To my QD friends...You guys continue to be my heroes. Your ability to see the need for change, and your willingness to pursue it, to pursue quality over quantity, to pursue Christ over paradigm, is amazing. Your families will only change when they're ready to acknowledge and embrace the need for it. They'll have to acknowledge the empty dining room, and the food on the menu that lead to it, on their own. You made the right choice to leave, and nothing will ever change the quality of that choice. No one can ever accuse you of being the person wanting everyone and everything around you to change while you stay the same, because you had to turn your world upside-down just to get to where you are. That takes an incredible amount of courage. You're awesome people.
To my QD friends who are deciding whether or not to leave, my advice remains the same. You can't change your family, and you can't "fix" your family. You can only change you. Trying to change them, or willing them to change, only weakens your own stability and quality. Always hold out hope, but live in reality.
To those in positions like I was in with my ex, my advice remains the same. To "play along" and appease will only put your relationship at risk, because a toxic, codependent culture is like smoke - it wants to dominate and poison any environment it enters. You have to decide if you're willing to accept that risk. My advice is to negate it, and be the change that the situation needs.
To those in abusive relationships, whether romantic, personal, or church-related...you need to leave. You can't change the other party. The longer you stay, the more of an enabler you become, and the greater your chances of ingesting the toxins.
If you're being physically or sexually abused, contact the authorities or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE(7233) for help.
For your own sake, don't be afraid to be the quality change and walk away from those unwilling to change when change is necessary.