“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.

3 Rules of Values-Based Leadership

English: Motivational Saying

English: Motivational Saying (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Effective leaders know and follow three important rules regarding human motivation. Here’s what effective leaders know:

1) The golden rule, “Do onto others as you would have them do onto you.” is broken.  Dr. Tony Alessandra, Ph.D. created the much more relevant “Platinum Rule®: Do onto others as they want done onto them.”

A leader will naturally  lead the way he/she wants to be led based on his/her motives and values.  This works well if the person one is trying to lead shares similar values, but is highly frustrating for both the leader and the follower if they hold opposite values, which is highly likely.

Knowledge of both one’s own values and your follower’s values allows the responsible leader to appeal to follower’s needs/motives and values so that the follower is motivated to follow the leader’s vision.  The reason people tend to follow is the leader’s vision matters to the follower and satisfies one or more of his/her needs and therefore the follower values the vision enough to be motivated to follow.

How does a leader discover his/her values and his/her followers’ values?  Reiss Motivation Profiles® (RMP) are the most effective means of understanding the sixteen common human motives/values.  Both leaders and followers can complete RMPs and then compare results.

2) “Seek first to understand then to be understood.”-Dr. Stephen R. Covey.  We always observe and interpret others’ motives through the lens of our own values.  This naturally flawed method of motive evaluation is not accurate nor predictive of others’ motives/values and behaviors.  We try to put ourselves in other people’s’ shoes to understand why someone behaves a certain way and we end up disguising our own values in their clothes which often do not fit and wearing our own shoes.  We understand why we might be motivated to behave the way someone else behaved in a situation, but we are never sure why they were actually motivated to do so.  This leads to a leader’s frustrated and true exclamation, “I DON’T KNOW WHY SOMEONE WOULD EVER DO THAT!”  The leader doesn’t know why someone would behave the way they behaved because the leader’s value lens blurs the observation with the leader’s natural value’s blind spot and prevents the leader from being able to understand why someone might be motivated in an opposite way than the leader.

RMPs allow leaders to greatly increase the level of motivational and values-based behavioral understanding of both themselves and those they lead.  Knowledge of followers’ RMPs allow leaders to more accurately predict followers motives and values.  The reason someone behaved the way s/he chose to behave is s/he was motivated to do so.  RMPs are the flashlight to shine insight into one’s motives blind spots.  Understanding one’s motives and values and those of one’s followers is critical to be an effective leader.

3) Dix’s 1st Law of Motivation: How you feel about what you do ultimately motivates you more than how successfully you do it.

Feelings matter and impact decisions and behaviors.  Leaders ignore and minimize the role and impact of emotion at their own peril. Logic is not a very strong motive.

At the 2012 World Society of Motivation Scientists and Professionals Conference in Washington, D.C., one esteemed presenter forwarded the concept that humans are all drug addicts. We are motivated to think and behave in ways that release the most desired, naturally produced neurochemicals in our brains.  We do what feels good and do it again and again to get our internal neuro-fix. Emotions are an indicator of our needs.   There is truth in the saying, “If it feels good… do it.”  We may rationalize many behaviors, but ultimately we are motivated to satisfy our greatest needs and when we do so we feel good.  When we deny our needs, we feel frustrated or worse.

We are motivated to do more of what satisfies our greatest needs even if we are not particularly effective nor successful at doing the actual task.  This is why there are so many happy enthusiasts, hobbyists and armatures.  They are in active pursuit of their bliss and enjoying the neurochemicals payoffs of satisfying their needs.

Leaders who understand the emotional side of motivation can understand a more complete picture of the dimensions of human motivation and can then lead from the heart as well as the head.

Leaders who seek to master values-based leadership must strive to lessen the natural tendency to view others’ behaviors through the leader’s value lens. The leader must use valid, unbiased information on followers’ motives to genuinely understand and predict their behaviors.  The Reiss Motivation Profile® is the proven tool to provide this level understanding and insight into motives/values.

These three rules are the first steps to effective values-based leadership (VBL). VBL can be highly effective to unlocking the full potential of both leaders and followers and lead to new levels of sustainable performance.

If you would like to obtain your Reiss Motivation Profile®, contact me at andy@lifematchesbook.com.

Get Past the ‘Crunch Point’ – The Key to Changing Behavior

Cover of "Who Am I?: The 16 Basic Desires...

Cover via Amazon


Are you trying to change your natural needs, wants, desires, values and/or motives or simply a learned habit that is not performing well for you?


Changing a habit is much more likely to be successful than changing your need for the 16 common human motives as measured using a Reiss Motivation Profile®. Natural needs/motives/values do not tend to change much as humans age. Habits are often not easily changed, but are more likely replaceable.


You may have developed a habit as a way to easily get one or more of your natural needs satisfied.  If so, it will be very frustrating to change the habits unless you are able to figure out an alternative way to satisfy those same needs.


I follow and read Dr. Denny Coats, Ph.D.’s Tweets daily. I admit to being a big fan of Dr. Coats.  Here is a link to his blog featuring a terrific post on changing habits:


Get Past the ‘Crunch Point’ – The Key to Changing Behavior.


If you would like to discover your natural motives, contact me at andy@lifematchesbook.com to schedule a Reiss Motivation Profile® and personal telephone consultation.  You may also read, “Who Am I?” and “The Normal Personality: A New Way of Thinking About People” by Dr. Steven Reiss, Ph.D..


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