I better premise this by stating the following: I hate American Idol. Hate what is does, what it stands for, the way it has manipulated an entire creative industry is beyond forgiveness. My offspring watch it. I hear and see bits and pieces, so I get what the show is about. (Wait! I did watch the Far Away Idol on Shrek 2 and thought that was pretty damn entertaining, does that count?) But, I digress. What I rant about today is a lesson I learned from American Idol or more accurately, from Simon Cowell. I know so little about these people I had to Google his name to make sure I spelled it correctly.
I heard him in an interview on the radio several years back and was thoroughly impressed with his answer to one particular question. So impressed, that I incorporated his idea into the way I would prepare and evaluate everything from my training, to my stories, to athletes, to music, to books, to shows, to movies, etc. The interviewer basically asked him why, since he seemed like such a normal fellow in person, he was such an ass on the show. His answered floored me. He said he wasn’t trying to be mean, but he felt he was his responsibility to do the job that the singer’s parents should have done well before the point of making a spectacle of themselves on national television. Simon Cowell gave them an honest evaluation of their talent. An honest evaluation based on his expertise honed over many years in the recording industry.
What lesson did I learn from that? Well, I learned, and am still trying to learn, to be an honest evaluator. The trick, I think, is to be honest, not cruel. Whatever it is we choose to do in life, we need to strive to constantly get better. And sometimes that involves a little kick in the buttocks to wake us up. Yep, I will tell you from nine years of coaching, your kids, your players, your students, your own self, will get pissed off sometimes. NOBODY likes to be told of their weakness, but the weaknesses will always be there, whether someone tells you or not. Just remember, be honest, not cruel. Constructive, not destructive. Pushing people to get better is a talent and an art. The best coaches, teachers, trainers, agents and obnoxious, nationally televised recording industry executives all do it, and do it well.