I have often thought that there are lessons to be learned from the media we watch, but I have eschewed writing about them here for fear of sounding frivolous. However, if my colleague Scott Eblin can use observations from American Idol as he did last week in a posting entitled Feedback Do’s and Don’ts from American Idol, then I think I can take the risk as well. And do not let the pop-culture reference put you off. Scott’s blog, The Next Level is one of the better leadership blogs on the net.
Courage and Talent
Assuming you have been online at all in the last week or watched the news, you have no doubt heard about Susan Boyle, who walked onto the stage at a Britain’s Got Talent audition and made a serious splash. Boyle, who is 48 and an unusual personality showed us all how our assumptions about people can get us into trouble. In case you have not seen the clip, have a look here before reading on and you will understand what I am talking about. And lest you think that it was a fluke, here is another recording by Susan Boyle that has come to light since here appearance on TV.
In short, Susan Boyle had the goods. They just were not wrapped in a package that we associate with great media stars. We cannot know what kept Susan Boyle focused on her goal of being a professional singer, but one thing is clear. She had the courage to continually put herself forward, despite lots of feedback that could have discouraged her. Aside from the lesson that most of us got about our own assumptions (until she began to sing), Susan Boyle shows us that even for those who have the goods, getting the opportunity to put them to broader use requires courage.
(Note: I could not embed the You Tube videos of Susan here since the site has had so many hits that they have disabled embedding the video.)
Desire (without talent)
One of the write-ups about Boyle’s appearance referred to a previous strong personality associated with the talent search shows, William Hung. Have a look at his American Idol audition below
Anyone surprised that the judges cut him off? Probably he should just go back to civil engineering and stay within his limits, right? But the hints were in his statement that he wanted to make music a career and that he knew he had given it his best. Where is William Hung today? Have a look:
OK- this may be more send-up than singing. But the man has created the career he wanted on the strength of courage and a sense of humor. And again, lest you think it is a fluke, have a look at this page from his website. He has multiple CD’s on the market and while Ricki Martin may have nothing to fear, Hung is selling music.
So what is the point? Here are two people now living a life that they only dreamed of, one because she had talent and was willing to put herself out to show it to the world despite a lack of encouragement. The other, because he was willing to create it on the strength of his own desire and sense of humor- despite his obvious lack of talent.