What American Idol can teach us about our own life

American-Idol Simon cowell

American Idol muppets

American Idol (AI) is one of my favorite shows of all time.  I love it.  This brings me lots of grief from my friends.  Taunting.  Rolled eyes.  But I don’t care.  With the finale looming soon I thought it would be a fitting topic.  In addition to the weird, awkward bizarre auditions, AI has discovered some of our country’s best musical talent of the last 10 years.  But there is another side of AI that is kind of like a secret weapon.  This secret side sometimes makes me cry while I’m watching it.  It is watching people find they were “born to do.”  Especially young people.  It touches me at a deep level.  One month they are working at Cookout (not that there’s anything wrong with that—the shakes are great!) or drowning in math class, and then BOOM! one month later they are a bona fide superstar, doing what they were meant to do.  The best is when the contestants don’t even know how good they are.  They are almost surprised but it’s like something’s been nagging at them, a splinter in their soul, and they knew that they were meant for something like this.  “It’s what I’m meant to do.”  I can’t get enough of that.  It’s one of my favorite things to see happen in young people’s lives.

It’s similar to one of the all-time classic movies Chariots of Fire (you’ve heard the theme song, trust me!) when Eric Liddell, Olympic runner, is talking about whether to move to China to serve the Chinese people or to run.  He is talking about his purpose in life.  And he is talking about finding out what he was meant for. (watch 1 min clip from 0:45 – 1:40 HERE)

So this makes me cry.  People finding out their purpose in life.  Everyone was meant for greatness.  Most people haven’t discovered it.  American Idol can teach us about our life as well.  Are there times recently that you have said “I was made to do this” or  “I was born for this”?  If not, why not?  What is it you were made to do?  What changes do you need to make to be able to say this with regularity?


Posts coming in the near future:

Why American Idol is 100x better than The Voice

Why American Idol has done serious damage to our young people. 


Is there life after college? Advice for grads Part 4

Star Wars graduation

New talk Bob Mitchell’s farewell address at the 1990 All Staff conference is LIVE.

Check out the first 3 “Top 7” bits of advice for entering the real world.  WEEK 1.  WEEK 2.  WEEK 3. Now here are the last 7 tips and tricks.  The theme is professionalism.  One quick word before we jump into the advice:

With James Madison University’s graduation a little over a week away, many of the soon-to-be grads I work with experience deep bittersweet emotion.  Many have a sadness starting to envelop them.  Some of this is natural as they are moving away from newly developed lifelong friends but some is from wondering if their best times of life are over.  So many adults claim your best years are in college.  This is sad.  The rest of your life is downhill?  If you get married and if you have children, that time with your family is a slow, downward spiral?  No.  This is NOT TRUE.  Every season of life brings with it an increasing capacity for joy and experience.  As you graduate and enter the “real world”, your best years are yet to come!  Onward.

  1. Be early. EVERYWHERE.  Especially to work.  This shows people you value their time (as well as your own).
  1. You go from top dog to underdog in about 2.3 seconds. We often have an unrealistic perspective when it comes to finding a career. You want the job now that you will earn in 10 years.  That’s OK.  How do you get there?  Work really, really hard, be loyal, be a go-to person, and be unselfish at work.
  1. Dress up and be well groomed. Dress how you want to get treated.  When in doubt, shave and dress up.  Don’t give people any reason to doubt you.  You don’t regret overdressing (a couple taunts) as much as underdressing (people doubting your ability).  You don’t get a 2nd chance to make a 1st impression.
    1. Purchase 2 or 3 “ballin” outfits. These are high quality, correctly fitting, great-looking whole outfits that you can wear for all kinds of different occasions. They are worth the investment.  For the fellas, this also means one really good suit and one pair of really good shoes.
  1. Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life. We are all very busy, but hurry communicates all kinds of negative things.  Prioritizing and precision are better goals.
  1. Write compliments down, share criticism orally. “Insults should be written in the sand and praise carved in stone.”
  1. Have a professional email and a professional voicemail greeting on your phone. Your potential new boss doesn’t want to email you at youwishyouwereme@aol.com or hear freestyle rapping on your voicemail.
  1. Figure out how to manage email. One of my mentors, Michael Hyatt, has some great articles on this.  Find one HERE.  Only touch each email once and only check your email a couple times a day.  That and social media/indiscriminate web surfing are the 2 biggest time wasters of the day.  Make sure that your social media accounts portray the image you want to portray.  One that you would be comfortable with your boss seeing and reading.  Once it’s on the interweb, it’s there forever.

Remember grads, your best years are ahead of you.  Great things are in store!  Many blessings on the journey.

What advice or counsel would you suggest to a graduating senior?



Is there life after college? More life tips/tricks for grads…

Welcome to Part 3 of “Is there life after college?”  More tips for grads.  The first list is here and the second is here.  There is another talk unlocked on the website and it’s one of my favorites.  Bob Mitchell’s farewell address at the 1990 Young Life All Staff Conference.  Check it out HERE.  Onward.

  1. Have a personal growth plan of how you are going to grow this next year. If you don’t, you won’t grow nearly as much as you could. If you aim at nothing you’ll hit it every time.
    1. Have written goals for all aspects of life.
    2. Who do you want to be? Look around and get around the people you want to be like.  And ask them lots of questions.
  1. Smile and say Hi first. Be the first to reach a hand across a divide.
  1. If you go over someone’s house for dinner or drinks, take something. Wine, flowers, dessert, chocolate, something for their kids, etc.
  1. Develop the habit of getting up early (I’m still working on this one). How many influential people do you know who stayed up really late and slept in really late?
  1. Reflect more. Meditate and think more. Howard Hendricks said of every hour reading, 40 min. would be reading and 20 min. would be reflecting.
  2. Start a “Rainy day file.” This is a page/file/folder of encouraging things.  These can be notes, memories, emails, etc.  You can go here when you’re feeling worthless or down or useless.
    1. Related to this is starting a list/memo/folder of “Someday Maybe.” It’s the place where you dream.  Where you can think about the things that you want to do.
    2. Also related is your page with stories, illustration, quotations, etc.
  1. Do one extraordinary thing everyday. It adds up.  Something where you go the extra mile.  You can’t always do great things but you can do small things with great love.  Be genuinely interested in other people.  (this is the key to being “interesting” to other people—if you are “interested” in them)


What advice or counsel would you suggest to a graduating senior?


Some videos to start your Monday right.

A bowl of good large size

In honor of today’s date, I decided to send some comic relief.  I took the above pic.  It’s of a restaurant here in town that was having some trouble with its sign.  That trouble turned into a pot of gold.  Or maybe a bowl.  Serious post again Thurs. and another recording will be unlocked.  Here are some of my favorite funny videos to start your week off right.  Most are under 30 secs.  Enjoy.

1. The exercise ball bait and switch HERE.

2. I wanna take a nap.  Right here.  Good night. HERE.

3. When the beat drops… HERE.

4. Where did the time go?  Wisdom teeth recovery video.  HERE.

5. When you’re scared but try to laugh it off.  HERE.

6. The best thug life animal compilation (caution–this music has very explicit lyrics)  HERE 



Why do I feel much better about myself when I drive a cool car?

GTR side view

This was my car for the weekend.  It’s a Nissan GTR with the nickname “Godzilla” because it devours other exotic cars.  It’s one of the fastest cars on earth.  My dear friend John loaned it to me.  On Saturday I went to the student org Madison Motorsports car show at JMU.  It was awesome.  Very well run and lots of cool whips all over the place.  Several things I learned this weekend:

  1. I love cool cars. (check out pics below)
  2. I am such a novice when it comes to how cars work.
  3. I still like to drive fast. Very, very fast. Too fast.

Sidenote:  the best thing that could have happened to me was getting a ticket for going 90 mph when I was 16.  And I didn’t tell my parents until it came the mail.  Had to get a lawyer and everything.  Maybe that can be another post sometime in the future.  Don’t tell my mom.

  1. Fast and Furious 7 isn’t the most realistic movie.  But I still liked it.  A lot.  “That’s the thing about street fights, the street always wins.”  “Time for daddy to go to work.”
  2. I feel much cooler and better about myself when I drive a cool car.

Question:  Why do I feel so much better about myself while driving a sports car?

Answer:  Because I’m still insecure.  I’m still trying to impress people. I want still want people to like me.  I want people to see me in this car.  An expensive car communicates money, power, status, attractiveness, and more.  But it’s all a lie.  There will be a time in our life when we can’t even drive anymore.  And no one gets to take their car with them when they die.  It was so sad yesterday when I traded the cherry red monster for my 2008 mile 4-cylinder Honda Accord.  One car costs $100,000 and the other has 100,000 miles.  But that’s OK.  I’m still working on being secure enough to where I can enjoy fast cars for what they are, and enjoy the driving experience without worrying about what people think.  Until that time, I will continue admiring and driving performance cars whenever I can.  Because I need a lot of practice.  On the road and in my heart.

corvette stingray
warning sticker may consume small pets
GTR back view

car and plane mix tape 3