Simon, Paula, Randy.
Each of the American Idol judges has an idiosyncratic approach to critiquing the contestants.
Let's start with Randy.
Randy -- Randy likes to remind both the contestants and the audience of his stature as a producer/musician. Expertise is important, but in telling the contestant that they weren't as good as Mariah, Whitney et al. all of whom he's played with, the critique tends to be more about Randy than the contestant.
Paula -- Paula gives compliments, lots of them. But because her need to be liked is so palpable, she seems to give to get. This only serves to further discount her already discounted opinion -- because she's a woman we expect her to say something nice. Not to mention her often muddled thoughts.
Simon -- Simon gives it to the contestants straight up. They know it and we know it and so we trust and value his opinion. Could he be more kind? Absolutely. Is he any less self-interested than Paula or Randy? Probably not.
But in this single moment -- when the judges must give feedback to the contestants -- providing his honest opinion, and thus maintaining his integrity supersedes asserting his stature or being loved. Ironically, he has become the 'biggest hitter' and most 'beloved' of the three.
I know that it is unfair to reduce people to a single trait or characteristic, but if we consider these judges as archetypes, here's the question:
When our husband, daughter, son, friends, co-workers share their dreams with us, haven't they figuratively just sung, and are now waiting for our critique?
If they are dreaming big, do we applaud them? Or do we tell them them we're not sure that they can realize their goal so as to shore up our own self-esteem? Regardless of why we discourage them, is our commentary more about us than them?
Or, are we so eager to be loved, especially as parents, that we aren't willing to be honest. And thus, over time, we are eroding the value of our opinion? For women, finding the balance between being supportive and 'keeping it real' is especially difficult.
Or do we honor others by giving our honest assessment? With love, mind you -- Simon could use a little more love.
There's probably a bit of Randy, Paula and Simon in all of us, depending on who we're interacting with, how we're feeling about ourselves on a particular day, but in general, who do we need more of?
And who do you need more of in your life?
P.S. A conversation with my friend Mike Kopelman inspired this post. Thanks Mike!