“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.


It’s commencement season. Graduates don caps and gowns and are formally recognized for their academic achievement by the confirmation of a degree, or an official title. The famed piece of paper which qualifies one to move on. Graduation is a time of both completion and beginning. It’s been thirty years since my High School graduation. I’ve since gone on to earn two additional degrees and have come to more fully appreciate life’s learning laboratory and perhaps the more common meaning of degree.Miriam Webster’s Dictionary defines degree as:

1: a step or stage in a process, course, or order of classification

One step forward, two steps back, sideways slides and bruised toes, describe my life’s dance so far. Growing older by degree. One step at a time, toward a certain, ever closer end. Hopefully resulting in a Heavenly graduation.

The next degree forward can seem daunting, but as the experiential learning expert’s at Outward Bound like to say, “If you can’t get out of it, get into it!”

Admittedly, I have a Christian biased worldview. I believe in God. I have faith that everything which happens in life can be used for His purpose. We have the ability to be willing participants in His divine plan.

The challenge is we must show up for life’s classes and get to the hard work of learning. All too often the lesson’s subjects seem too horrible to face, frightening to confront, or painfully boring to endure, so I choose to fly to my imagination, opt for procrastination, throw out a well-crafted rationalization, seek distraction or simply give into my natural resistance to change. All this wasted effort and precious time in a vain attempt to avoid feeling, experiencing, processing and dealing with the situation God placed me in a position to learn from. It’s impossible to learn in these resistant states, so God keeps holding me back to repeat the course. If you want to graduate to the next course, you must commence to learn. If you can’t get out of it, get into it and wring out the essence of every life lesson for all its worth. Learn by doing. Refuse to use the word failed and replace it with the word learned.

Is it time to wholeheartedly get into living your life? The class is mandatory, but graduation is voluntary. The creator of the Universe’s University is waiting on your final day of class to say, “Well done good and faithful servant!”

Life…you can’t get out of it, so why not really get into it? If you do, you will be living Fired Up!


Insect Philosophy: A Bug’s Life or Yours?


Butterfly (Photo credit: fox_kiyo)

Student caterpillar climbed the bodhi tree to ask insect philosopher the meaning of life.

The philosopher told caterpillar, “Fly before you die.”

Is there a metamorphosis in your 2013?

Will this be the year you choose to convert your potential and your dreams into becoming the possible you?

Will you fly before you die?

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