Friday, May 20, 2011

Important Idol

I admit it, I watch American Idol.

It has been a show that's captured my attention for a number of years.  The second season got me reeled me in when Clay Aiken sang "Here There and Everywhere."  I am a huge Beatles fan and that was my wedding song, it just gets me (the song, not Clay Aiken).

So for the past 10 years now (wow who would've thought, definitely not Ed McMahon) my wife and I have tuned in for the music, to see what brutally honest comment Simon might have for the haves and the have-nots, and to see what new hair style Ryan Seacrest is rocking (no man crush here).  We've even hung in there thru the Kara DioGuardi years.

Simon has been a big deal when it comes to American Idol almost more than the music and rising star who wins.  I honestly thought the show would not do well when he transitioned, (after all who is going to pick on Ryan).

Enter Stephen Tyler (a wildcard) and Jennifer Lopez (definite upgrade from Paula) and we can't forget our favorite "dawg" Randy Jackson who stuck around, to act as the three judges for season 10.

So why is Idol still a success as this past week brought in the highest number of votes at 95 million to chose who the two finalists will be?

There are two key factors to why this is the most important season and probably the most successful.

1. The judges are more encouraging than critical.

2. The contestants have a consistent coach in proven music producer Jimmy Iovine.

America may have been entertained with Simon, but never have been inspired as when Laura meet Stephen.

There may have been moments when you wished Simon was there to add his two cents, but the investment of encouragement goes a lot further than the junk change of criticism.

Especially when all too often in the moments of being critical turn into a habit of being cynical.  I think it resonates with people when someone encourages, because we have enough critics in life, whether its a boss, or a coworker, or that random person who leaves you strange comments on Facebook.

It is inspiring when you see someone considers others better than themselves. 

The addition of Jimmy Iovine illustrates that Idol is becoming more interested in seeing the contestants reach there potential, than just crank out another pop star with 15 minutes and counting.

One of my favorite quotes is from a former Notre Dame coach, Ara Parasheghian, "A good coach will make his players see what they can be rather than what they are."

Simon showed these contestants what they are, this season they have been shown what they could become.

They dynamic of coaching is one that transcends in other areas of life.

I have a number of friends who have personal coaches to help them get over the hump to reach that elusive goal weight (hmm maybe I should invest in one).  Churches are now offering life coaches as a way to disciple people into leadership and personal growth.

In the business field coaching is the hot trend with the most successful companies according to CNN, "Coaching now is part of standard leadership development training for elite executives and talented up and comers at IBM, Motorola, JP Morgan, Chase, and HP.  These companies are discreetly giving their best prospects what star athletes have long had: A trusted advisor to help reach their goals."

It may be just another season of Idol that comes and goes, but perhaps in a subtle way seeds of encouragement are being planted and principles of good coaching are being modeled for America to see every week on Wednesday and Thursday.

It may be entertaining for a time to criticize, but an encouraging word is never forgotten.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

More Please

I am not a good prayer, but I want to be.

The times when I talk to God the most are the times in my life when things go wrong.

When I need something,
and to be honest,
when want something too.

I can sound like a real baby.

Speaking of baby...

When my son cries and makes a fuss,
I think to myself, "Yup, I can sound just like that."

Lately he has been doing something that speaks louder than his cries.

It is something that gets my attention and my response.

My wife and I have been teaching him sign-language to help him communicate.
Since he cannot form a vocabulary yet, other that Elmo, ball, and now hat.

The hand motions work well.

He moves his hands together in a point to say "More."
and he has got that down especially when he wants Elmo cookies
(they are pretty good too, I have had some myself).

Recently he has learned to use the sign for "Please" (rubbing his stomach).

When he cries out of manipulation, not when he is hurt,
I have learned to tune it out until his crying spell has passed.

I do listen and respond when he motions the word "please."

I cannot help it, compelled to answer his please.

The same way when he is crying for my attention,
there is this moment when he will just lift up his hands,
out of sheer desperation and surrender.

I pick him up,
carry him,
and kiss him.

I never understood why people would raise their hands in worship,
mostly I would do it because other people did it (or if there was a key change).

It is a spiritual communication that goes beyond cries and manipulation,
but into a subtle language and a posture of the heart.

Maybe prayer is more about communicating with God,
than simply just trying to get his attention.

Maybe worship is less about getting what I want,
and more about surrendering.

Maybe this is what child like faith is all about.

Usually a Dad would want his son to be like him,
this time I have find my self wanting to be like my son.

Monday, May 9, 2011


I have been bullied.

I have been punched.

I have become an uncounted number.




I am not alone.

During my school days a fellow classmate would come to my locker ever day and he would punch me in the arm.

I lost count.

It was our morning ritual.  It hurt but then after awhile it didn't.  I became numb.  Desensitized to what was really taking place on the surface, but underneath pressure was building.
I knew, and he knew; and there was nothing I could do about it.

There was no reason behind his constant attacks.

There was only latitude to do so.

I couldn't fight back, although I was taller.
I couldn't tell someone, although everyone knew.


He was in a gang.
And I took the bus.

I would pray that I could catch my ride on time because If I missed the first bus,
I would be alone. Vulnerable. Easy prey.

No after school activities.
No games of football in the school yard.

The bell was my escape, and the clock was ticking.

And then it stopped.

Maybe my prayers were answered.
Maybe my best reaction was no action.

It is hard to believe that all of this took place in 6th grade.

Before I could drive.
Before I could die for my country.
I would die everyday.

Bullying is a quiet epidemic that screams in the silence.

Short or Tall
Skinny or Fat
Girl or Boy
Gay or Straight
Christian or Muslim

Everyone has been affected.

Whether you threw the punches, or took the punches.
Whether you watched the violence or turned away.

"Courage is fire, and bullying is smoke."

British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, said those words in the 1800s.

His words still ring true today.

I do not write this for sympathy, I write this to dispel the smoke.

Bullying must be talked about and brought into the light.

A stand must be taking when it is witnessed and in the aftermath that follows.

"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed."
Proverbs 31.8 (New Living Translation)

I bring this to light because there was a girl who I knew whose life was tragically affected by Bullying. 

There have been times when I have been bullied since my school days. 
It comes in different forms.
Only the setting changes.  

Sometimes words hurt more than fists.  
Sometimes the size of the bully doesn't change just the size of the office. 

The only thing that got me thru those moments then and now is talking about it.

Venting. Loud and Broken.  

I do not know where I would be if it was not for trusted family or friends, 
that allowed me the space for my messy frustration.
Like a balloon, I have popped, sometimes leaving a mess to pick up. 

There is Love in the broken pieces.
Who picks up what is left behind,
And makes all things new.