“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.

Who Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

This image depicts a North American AT-6 Texan

Image via Wikipedia

What do you want to be when you grow up?

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?  Like most kids, you were probably asked that by aunts and uncles and parents and guidance counselors until you finally came up with a fast answer.  What was it?

What happened? Did you live up to the dream adult you that the little you created? 

Flyboy Dreams

As a boy, I always wanted to be a pilot. The pilot thing was kind of funny, since I’ve always been really afraid of heights.  But that was it for me.  I built model airplanes and looked skyward as the aluminum birds flew over my house and dreamed of someday being the ace of the base.  I wish I had half of the money I spent as a youngster flying an arcade game called F15 Strike Eagle. 

When I was 10 years-old,  my parents bought me a flight in a small sea plane for a quick sight-seeing tour of northern Michigan.  Years later, my high school physics teacher, who was a pilot, flew me in a four-seat Piper to the same area in Michigan to meet up with my parents for a vacation.  I was hooked.

My flying dreams were stored away for more “practical” college courses and jobs. Many years later, my wife bought me a discovery flight at a local airport for my 28th  birthday.  We flew from Evansville, Indiana’s airport with me in the left-seat of a Cessna 172. I was finally at the controls and “piloting.”  The young flight instructor allowed me to manipulate the flight controls and my young, very scared bride was in the rear seat praying.  She reminded the flight instructor several times during the flight  that I really had no idea what I was doing and to not trust me to fly.  I remember gracefully soaring over the Ohio River that sunny afternoon in June.  Still hooked. But not a pilot.

Fortieth birthdays have a way of resetting some priorities and dreams.  If I was ever going to become a pilot, now was the time.  My best friend surprised me during a trip to Daytona Beach, Florida.  He had arranged for me to meet a friend of a friend who was a flight instructor and who owed a show quality T-6 airplane.  It was a World War II aircraft, painted in U.S. Navy colors.  My first logged 1/2 hour of flight instruction was in that amazing airplane.  I later found out that my flight instructor, who so generously shared his time and airplane with me, was formerly one of Elvis Presley’s pilots.  It was a unforgetable experience and is now a favorite story to tell!

A year later, I was a licensed pilot. I guess I finally grew up. Mission accomplished. My dream transformed into a reality and I now live my dream when time and money allow.  I am still hooked.  My smile never fades when I’m flying.

How to make your real dreams into reality

What can I share with you from my skyward experience to help you to maybe fire up some of your childhood dreams? Here’s what I hope you take from my story:

1) Some dreams stay with you always.  If they don’t go away; it’s because they want to be real.

2) Don’t be afraid to share your dreams, even if they seem crazy to some.  You never know who might decide to help you make your dream come true.

3)  If you really want to experience something that you’ve never done before, you’ve got to do it to experience it.

4) Sometimes it’s ok to be really afraid and to do something anyway.

5) Don’t wait too long to chase your dream.

6) If you did wait too long to chase your dream, run a little faster to catch up with it.

7) Figuring out “How” to live your dream is more fun than “Why.” It may not be easy, but it will be worth it!

8) Living your dreams leads you to living a life that is fired up!

9) People may laugh at you. People may try to discourage you.  People may say you are crazy for chasing your dream. They are probably just jealous or too afraid to chase their own dreams.  Don’t pay too much attention to them.

10) Build your plan and take action.  That’s how dreams are made.

Who do you want to be when you grow up?  Is it time to grab some sky of your own? What dream of yours won’t leave you alone?  What’s the first step you can take today to get you inches closer to making it a reality? Are you willing to be courageous enough to take the first step?

By the way, if you want to be a pilot, visit AOPA‘s site: www.aopa.org/letsgoflying/

Catch a dream today!  If you too are a dream catcher, please share your story by posting a comment.

3 Steps to Fire Up Your Life!

Image: Pixomar / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How can you live a life that is more passionate, fulfilling, meaningful,  on-purpose and satisfying?

Three Steps to Fire Up Your Life!:

1) Find ways that you can use your unique, God-given, strengths, talents, gifts and resources to serve others.

2) Serve others passionately, humbly and as anonymously as possible.

3) Repeat steps one and two daily.

Tom Rath and the wonderful folks at The Gallup Organization created “StrengthsFinder 2.0” to help you to learn about your natural, personal strengths.  Marcus Buckingham has written numerous books on how to put your strengths to work.  I wrote “Life Matches: Fire Up Your Life!” to help you to make living a strengths-based life a habit. Download my how to find your strengths exercises for free here:  Life Matches: Fire Up Your Life! Exercises.

There are three requirements to create fire:

1) Fuel

2) Air

3) Ignition source

If you want to fire up your life you need three similar essential elements:

1) Fuel=Passions, strengths, talents, gifts, knowledge, skills, and personal experiences.

2) Air=Time

3) Ignition souce=Other people, situations, circumstances and I believe, God.

You were uniquely designed for a purpose. Your life’s quest is to seek to discover and to serve your purpose. Your purpose will involve serving others in ways that only you can serve them.

Your service to your purpose may end up only being a percentage of your time, but it will be your most satisfying use of your time. Living on-purpose is the reason to live.

My life motto is, “Learn it. Live it. Share the spark!”  I believe that my purpose for being alive is to first learn new things. Then I live with them to personally prove that the new learnings are true and helpful. Finally, I get to enjoy the satisfaction of sharing what I have learned and how it has personally benefitted me in my life’s journey to hopefully  help others in their journeys.  I live to be an ignition source or as I like to think of it, a “sparker” of other people so that they can live their lives more “Fired Up!”  Each time I can share a spark with  someone it fuels me up to invest more time in sparking more people which helps keep my life matches burning brightly!  Sparking others is my passion and is now my habit.

I was not always a sparker.  I had to learn and do the three steps above.

Unfortunately, one tends to lose what one does not use.  Fire up or  fizzle out.  You get to choose.  I choose to live Fired Up!

Hopefully, by writing this, I have shared a spark with you.  Please let me know if this helps you to serve your life’s purpose and to Fire Up Your Life! Then you will be sharing your spark with me.

PS: I give all money I receive  from  the sale of  the book “Life Matches: Fire Up Your Life!” to CHADD, the national non-profit organization that supports people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD).  Learn more about CHADD at http://chadd.org.  You can buy “Life Matches: Fire Up Your Life!” at http://www.booklocker.com/books/4765.html.

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