“American Idol” Makes Me Cry! (But in a Good Way)

“American Idol” has launched a new season on television. I need to put a box of tissue on my end table. Whenever I get sucked into watching an episode, I tend to cry. My leaky viewing is a great delight to my family, who enjoys poking fun at my sentimentality.

What Is Going On?

After dabbing my eyes and wiping my nose following an amazing Idol performance, I reflected on what was triggering my very emotional response. Was I just responding to the calculated manipulations of the show’s producers, or was something else causing my damp cheeks? I wasn’t feeling sad. My tears were not from joy. What about this vicarious experience was dredging up such a powerful response from me? I realized I could relate in some way with the contestants.

Remembering the Spotlight?

Once upon a time, I was a performer. I dreamed of being an actor and was cast in both community and school plays. I was a hack musician, who played trumpet throughout junior high and high school and later in a community swing band and in the praise band at a couple of churches.

As a school-based band member, I participated in many solo and ensemble competitions. At these competitions, I performed before a judge and was awarded medals for outstanding musical talent for the appropriate musical mastery based on my age/experience level. Contestants had the opportunity to advance beyond the local level and compete at a state competition. Standing in judgment after practicing for months is both nerve-racking and exhilarating. Waiting for the judge’s evaluation is deliciously painful in its anticipation. Getting a gold medal is rewarding. (I still have them all these years later.)

I remember the thrill of being the focus of attention as the spotlight blinded me. I cherished the feeling of affirmation, acceptance, and accomplishment, as an audience was entertained and applauded. All these feelings are touched again as I watch and empathize with the “American Idol” contestants. But there was more than just reminiscent empathy causing my reaction.

Appreciating the Impossible Dream

In the musical, “Man of La Mancha,” we get the classic song, “The Impossible Dream.” The lyrics say in-part, “To reach the unreachable star. This is my quest to follow that star. No matter how hopeless. No matter how far…” It’s the musical embodiment of what philosopher Joseph Conrad calls the “Hero’s Epic Journey.” It’s a story we each long to be courageous enough to travel, but few risks the trip.

Seeing the Idol contestants chase after impossible stardom, against all odds, is enchanting to watch. But what moves me to tears is not regretting not taking my own moment of fame, but by appreciating the courage it takes to overcome adversity, fear, doubt, and more, just for a chance to be judged worthy of being included in the episode, even if you don’t advance to Hollywood. Each singer must combat his/her internal fear dragon and find the breath to victoriously sing after their impossible dream. When they are amazing, it is truly legendary. Even the rejected have more guts than 99% of the critical viewers at home. They can say they did it and that they have no regrets for trying. That is what mainly brings me to tears. Seeing people succeed by realizing their own definition of success. They grab the impossible star for just one unforgettable moment. They truly live. It is so rare in today’s conformist society, that seeing it on my living room flat screen TV brings out the waterworks, as I celebrate their success, and mourn those who are too afraid to ever get off the very couch they may ultimately die on before they have ever lived.

Passing on Your Gifts

I believe we are each given specific gifts that are meant to be shared for the benevolence of other people. When you see someone, who has mastered the application of his/her gifts use them to their utmost, like a talented Idol hopeful, it is awe inspiring. We offer a standing ovation, or in my case a tear. We recognize the effort and practice it took to hone the skill. We appreciate receiving their gift. We are humbled by their superpowers that make it all look so easy and fun. We lie to ourselves saying, “I could never do that,” while our greatest gifts remain unused in a box marked “potential” and wrapped in shocking paper made of our most effective fears.

What is Your Impossible Dream?

Will you regret not chasing it? What if you chased it and failed? But more importantly, what if you chased it and held it for just a brief moment?

If you are ready to be epic, then get a tissue and let’s talk about your plan to take the journey of a lifetime. It’s the kind of travel planning an executive coach like me loves to do with all my heart.

OK, better make it two tissues…


If you would like to explore chasing your dreams, then let’s schedule a time to talk.  You can email me at andy@lifematchesbook.com.  See more about how I help people like you at https://adgrowthadvisers.com.

Assumptions Are Our Mind’s Flypaper

Reality is what we assume to be true.  What we assume to be true is what we believe.  What we believe is based upon our perceptions.  What we perceive depends on what we look for.  What we look for depends on what we think.  What we think depends on what we perceive.  What we perceive determines what we believe.  What we believe determines what we assume to be true. What we assume to be true is our reality.  -David Bohm

I’ve studied Nancy Kline’s books “Time to Think” and “More Time to Think: The Power of Independent Thinking” to learn her unique approach to executive coaching.  She terms the coaching experience as “Thinking Sessions” and the coach and the coachee are equal partners in thinking together in new ways to resolve issues and develop into our next best selves.  If you are a professional coach, I highly recommend both of Ms. Kline’s books.

A key concept Klien explores is the concept of assumptions.  An assumption is a thought one accepts as true or certain without proof.  Assumptions are highly effective at keeping one stuck in the present state and can form the bars of a self-created cage to prevent personal and organizational change.

Assumptions allow one to conserve mental energy by thinking of plausible sounding stories which confirm our worldview of reality.  If I am an idealist by nature, I am likely to assume this is a normal worldview and may find it odd when I meet a staunch realist.  If I assume it to be cold in January in the Midwest and dress without checking the weather forecast, I might be sweating my assumption when it unexpectedly hits 70 degrees.  If I assume everyone will abide by traffic signals, I may have a collision with someone who fails to stop at a red traffic light.  The knowledge and experience of assumptions proving to be wrong, do not seem to slow down our brain’s natural tendency to continue to use personal assumptions to guide our choices and decisions.

How often we create self-fulfilling prophecies by not challenging and testing our assumptions.  We routinely assume our boss will deny our request for a raise so we fail to give the rationale for why we deserve a pay increase.  We assume we could never afford a college degree, so we never apply to college.

The most important question we can ask ourselves about any significant assumptions we make which offer a convenient excuse for not trying something new and/or different is to simply confirm the assumption with some questioning.  Is the assumption true?  Is the assumption always true?  Is there some different way to think about this assumption which would allow us to not make it true?

One will soon find many assumptions are true and can be classified a truths or facts.  Some assumptions cannot be proven but are likely true.  Other assumptions are not always true, but are the way one wishes to live his/her life so the assumption is decided to be true to them personally.  Some assumptions cannot be proven or disproved and can be thought of as possibilities.   Beliefs are assumptions which we trust on faith and do not seek to confirm.

The sum of our assumptions become the boundaries of our thinking and living.  Comfort zones are built out of seemingly solid assumptions.  To break free of our assumptions and to allow room for growth, one must ask and answer challenging questions.

What evidence do I have which supports my present limiting assumption?

What evidence exists which refutes my assumption?

Often one key assumption is tied to many sub-assumptions.  So if this key assumption is true, what other assumptions must also be true?

Which assumptions are you choosing to accept as true which are keeping you from living a Fired Up! life? If you knew that this assumption were not true, what could you then assume to be true that would be liberating?

Assumptions are our mind’s flypaper to keep us safely stuck in the present situation.  If we seek to grow and achieve our full potential, we must inventory and confirm our limiting assumptions.  A professional thinking partner/coach can help you sort through your assumptions.

Which assumptions need challenged today?



The Better Tree

Secluded in a distant corner

of life’s mysterious and murky forest

grows the better tree.

Towering through a fog of possibilities

its branches stretch skyward

seeking to bask in the radiance of the sun’s energy.

Atop a new each day

matures the most satisfying of life’s delights,

a single ripened better fruit.

Camouflaged by life’s

amusements and distractions,

the better tree is invisible to many.

Few choose to ever seek it out

and fewer still decide to make the daily climb

in a quest to taste true satisfaction.

Those brave souls of a tenacious bent

who discipline themselves to make the trek

may still find the slippery bark and thorny limbs

too daunting a foe and quit.


Photo by Andy Dix

Photo by Andy Dix

Others remain content to

gorge on lesser fallen fruit

which momentarily fills

but does not satisfy.

On the best of days

growth’s hunger creates

an insatiable desire

to tolerate the climb’s

peril and pain.

For those who have tasted the sweetest fruit of the better tree

have seen their life’s world in truth’s blinding light.

They have savored the warmth of satisfaction

flowing throughout their being.

Knowing tomorrow’s climb awaits

but for the moment they can appreciate,

the worthiness of today’s effort for

the wisdom and experience gained,

has made them better.


Will you choose to seek the better fruit and make your daily climb?









%d bloggers like this: