There’s Something About Susan

Hear, hear to all of you that sent me the clip of Susan Boyle. Some have said that Simon Cowell staged this. I wouldn't put it past him. But does it matter? Either way Susan Boyle took a risk.

If the heckling she experienced in this seven-minute clip is any gauge, Susan's been dealing with naysayers all her life.  At 47, that's a lot of naysaying.

Yet, there she was — and is — out on stage.

Daring to dream.


Janika Dillon was kind enough to share her thoughts with me in real-time.  Here's her take:

Susan Boyle is so ordinary-looking–and well past the age of most up-and-coming stars, yet she totally knocked their socks off!  How many amazing talents are hidden behind average looks, age, and ‘small villages'.  Though who knows what will ever happen with her singing, she had the courage to try out for the show, get on the stage, and do what she does best.

The audience was horrible to heckle her, but I guess that's the reality when striving for a dream for which we don't look the part.  We may be ‘too old', ‘too busy with young children', ‘too inexperienced', ‘too poor'. Some of these things we can change, many we cannot.  The quest is to accept our plight, determine if it is still worth trying for the dream, and then navigate our way through the obstacles.

I know a woman in her early 50s out West who is getting a doctorate in clinical psychology. She is amazingly talented and would make an incredible psychologist.  Unfortunately she has received little support from the faculty, while enduring many unkind comments about her age.  Nor did she get an offer for an internship even though she applied and interviewed throughout the country.

In casting about for a way to help decision makers look past her age and see her abilities, she finally decides to rely on her extensive social network.  After a month of calls, visits and e-mails, my friend landed one of the country's most prestigious internships.  She is thrilled to have her chance on the stage, and I think she will be prove just as effective (if not more so) as her younger colleagues.

Thank you Janika for guest-posting on the fly; I look forward to many more posts.

What did you think?

Why did Susan Boyle move you?

Click here to read what Boston Globe reporter Michael Paulson had to say.

American Idol: Which Judge Are You?

Simon, Paula, Randy.

Each of the American Idol judges has an idiosyncratic approach to critiquing the contestants.

Let's start with Randy.

Randy — Randy likes to remind both the contestants and the audience of his stature as a producer/musician. Expertise is important, but in telling the contestant that they weren't as good as Mariah, Whitney et al. all of whom he's played with, the critique tends to be more about Randy than the contestant.

Paula — Paula gives compliments, lots of them. But because her need to be liked is so palpable, she seems to give to get. This only serves to further discount her already discounted opinion — because she's a woman we expect her to say something nice. Not to mention her often muddled thoughts.


Simon — Simon gives it to the contestants straight up. They know it and we know it and so we trust and value his opinion. Could he be more kind? Absolutely. Is he any less self-interested than Paula or Randy? Probably not.

But in this single moment — when the judges must give feedback to the contestants — providing his honest opinion, and thus maintaining his integrity supersedes asserting his stature or being loved. Ironically, he has become the ‘biggest hitter' and most ‘beloved' of the three.

I know that it is unfair to reduce people to a single trait or characteristic, but if we consider these judges as archetypes, here's the question:

When our husband, daughter, son, friends, co-workers share their dreams with us, haven't they figuratively just sung, and are now waiting for our critique?

If they are dreaming big, do we applaud them? Or do we tell them them we're not sure that they can realize their goal so as to shore up our own self-esteem? Regardless of why we discourage them, is our commentary more about us than them?

Or, are we so eager to be loved, especially as parents, that we aren't willing to be honest. And thus, over time, we are eroding the value of our opinion? For women, finding the balance between being supportive and ‘keeping it real' is especially difficult.

Or do we honor others by giving our honest assessment? With love, mind you — Simon could use a little more love.

There's probably a bit of Randy, Paula and Simon in all of us, depending on who we're interacting with, how we're feeling about ourselves on a particular day, but in general, who do we need more of?

And who do you need more of in your life?


Related Posts:
Why We Love American Idol
Rachel, Leah and ‘So You Think You Can Dance?'
Et tu, Whitney?
Tie-Dye, Daughters and Dreams

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