This past Tuesday night, there was nothing on television. Typically, my Tuesdays, beginning in January and all through May, are filled with American Idol and the heartbreak, the laughter and the hours of dialing and texting votes for our favorite Idol. But just because a winner was crowned nearly a week ago, it doesn’t mean that Idol isn’t still dominating headlines and water-cooler conversations. For those who weren’t following along, there was an upset victory by Kris Allen (far left) last week, as he prevailed over the glamorous, charismatic, bigger-than-life Adam Lambert. It was being billed as almost a David and Goliath television moment. Adam Lambert had lived the whole season in a bigger-than-life spotlight, eating up his moment, and basking in the love-hate relationship he was forging with America. Kris on the other hand, was the soft-spoken and humble kid who just liked playing his guitar (and his piano, occasionally) and singing a catchy tune. Kris was the guy every girl dreams of bringing home to meet her parents. Adam, well, let’s just say he’d be a great, great friend to the ladies, but his expertly applied mascara might scare Mom (and Dad) just a bit. An upset win? An impossible outcome? A demerit for society and our fear of strange, different, and unique? Or was it just pop-culture at its finest? The question everyone is asking is did the right person win? Kris Allen himself, who took the majority of the 100 million votes to win the world’s biggest singing competition, has said that Adam was more deserving. Yes, Kris himself thinks Adam should have won. Famed Idol judge Simon Cowell also thinks Adam Lambert should have won. So how in the heck did Kris Allen end up becoming our American Idol? There’s many great quotes attributed to Woody Allen, but among his most famous (and inspiring) was this:
“Eighty percent of success is just showing up.” —Woody Allen
Kris Allen is now on a long list of overnight successes produced by the Fox Idol machine. And it’s funny what can happen sometimes when you simply do the thing you say you’re going to do. Meaning, rather than talking yourself out of something, or finding a dozen reasons “why not,” talk yourself into whatever far-fetched idea or dream you have, and then show up. Most people create reasons why something can’t happen, and then never try, or give up. And Lord knows the early weeks of American Idol give us audition after audition of people embarrassing themselves following their dream. Well, those people are delusional. But guys like Kris Allen, who’ve been singing their entire lives, who’ve learned to play an instrument, and who’ve made themselves students of music and entertainment, they’ve figured it out. They “showed up” long ago, and each new success is just another chance they had to “show up.” And they show up, again and again. And let’s not forget runner-up Adam Lambert. Did he really lose? Is he a loser? I’d argue he’s a roaring success as well. We have to make sure we’ve defined “success” properly. For example, a while back, my daughter asked me about running a 10K and whether or not I was going to “win.” And as I sat at the starting area with nearly 3,000 fellow runners, I wrestled a little bit with how to answer the question. And then my mind turned to the Boston Marathon and the nearly 23,000 people who run in it. We often define success as winning and losing. One person wins, and the other loses. Heaven or hell. Black or white. Yes or no. We cling to cliches like “win at all costs,” “failure is not an option,” and “coffee is for closers,” but are such things realistic? So I told my daughter what most every person knows who enters a 5K run, a half or a full marathon, or even American Idol: I’m already a winner for just being here. For just having showed up. When you run in something as basic as a 5K (3.1 miles if you don’t know), you’ll see young people, old people, blind people, skinny people, fat people… well, all kinds of people. Some are fresh off their high-school track teams and finish the entire race before you finish your first mile, while others walk the entire route. Fathers will run with their 8-year-olds, and sometimes middle-aged women, donning pink baseball hats, will walk arm-in-arm with tears streaming down their faces as they remember a dear friend who might’ve recently lost her battle with cancer or heart disease. No matter what the story, it’s inspiring. Do you want to be an American Idol? Do you want to open your small business? Do you want anything and have you been talking yourself out of it? Well, it’s time. Time to put up, or shut up. Time to show up. It’s easy to pass off the ultra-cheesy American Idols and to rail against making them idols or role models at all, but indeed, because they dared to dream, they are worthy of our praise and the pedestal we put them on. They showed up. Mel Robbins is a no-nonsense life and business coach who has turned her expertise and love for helping people into an impressive media career. She is the producer and host of the hit syndicated radio show The Mel Robbins Show, a daily talk-radio show that changes the lives of callers through honest and entertaining coaching, storytelling and problem solving. She is also a monthly Columnist for SUCCESS magazine. For more, check out her site.