American Idolatry

Posted on May 22, 2009



Well finally we can continue on in our lives. The new prince of reality TV has been crowned in Kris Allen. With a staggering 100 million votes, this year’s American Idol broke its previous records. The result show was the buzz around the office, talk shows, and social networks. Now that the dust (and glitter) is starting to settle, I began to ask myself, why is this show so popular? It has retained its dominating popularity among many competitors for over 7 years showing no signs of slowing. Sure, someday the spotlight of Idol will grow dim, but until then, what’s the source of its popularity? Many fans claim the pop culture mega phenom is all about the artistry of the music, the celebrities, and performances. While I agree, I also think the attraction of AI is about something else; a short cut.

Most of us live in a world of obscurity, going about the daily grind unnoticed and overlooked. Even ‘successful’ creative leaders are insecure about their place in this world. And while we say we are okay with that, deep down, we long to be recognized, elevated, and worshipped. While watching Kris Allen receive his accolades, we dream of the day when we will be bestowed our own crown. The problem is that Idol fools you into the short cut of talent. Talent is only part of the equation of success. Real, long lasting success and impact comes in equal parts of talent, hard work, and time. If talent is the nose of a rocket ship, time is the engine and hard work is the fuel. Sure the more talented you are the more aerodynamic your rocket is but without the rest you won’t go far. Unless you are one in a billion that wins American Idol, talent won’t be enough. In idol, you don’t need hard work (at least by comparison) or need time once you win the biggest musical award in America (or in the galaxy).

If you want to be a successful creative leader then stop day dreaming. Hard work, time, AND talent are key. Work harder than anyone else. Plan on resting when you’re dead, otherwise kick it into gear. ‘Time’ is not about waiting but more about the right timing. When the opportunity arrives you have to act quickly and decisively. And finally, hone your craft. Constantly reinvent your talent, and be original and authentic. The more aerodynamic you are the easier it will be to fly.

You may not end up on TV with 100 million votes but you’ll get something better. Maybe your audience will be a classroom full of kids. Maybe it will be your team at work. Maybe it’s the worship band in your ministry. With hard work, time, and talent, you’ll be able to model to others what it REALLY takes to succeed. That’s why God put us on this planet- to influence and inspire the next generation of artist leaders. To teach them it’s not about short cuts but stewardship. It’s about teaching others to do the very best with what you have.

By doing that, you’ll get your well deserved crown someday.