Lessons from American Idol

One of my guilty pleasures is watching American Idol on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. I might not be paying 100% attention as I’m often doing the dinner dishes or tidying up in the kitchen, but I do manage to catch snippets of what I would consider important lessons to aspiring artists, performers, and writers. Sure, it’s fun to spoof/poke fun at the judges and roll eyes whenever Ryan Seacrest opens his mouth, but I think what keeps me watching are the people who open themselves to abuse (and approbation) week after week. What courage, what masochism!

Here are some of the lessons which have been bludgeoned into my head:

Know yourself. “Be true to who you are” while trying “not to be self-indulgent.” The industry/promoters like labels and to tuck their artists in neat, tidy packages. Even though we’d like to believe we transcend labels, we do tend to gravitate to certain behavior patterns and style choices. Be prepared to distill yourself to your essence, but don’t become a parody of yourself.

Take risks. Challenge yourself to take risks in order to grow and stay fresh. The worst thing you can be is boring.

“Right song choice makes a difference.” Know what you do best and make the most of it. In the words of Julia Cameron, each of us has our vein of gold, the area in which we are most truly ourselves and from which our gifts and interests mesh and interact most smoothly and powerfully. When we tap into it, magic happens.

Believe in yourself and others will believe in you. Be prepared not to be loved by everyone all the time. Even with one’s parents, there will be times of less love. Accept it as part of the growing process. In fact, without self love and self acceptance, the admiration from others is meaningless.


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