Season Ten of Idols 2014 has begun. Idols is South Africa’s search for a singing sensation. According to the Idols website, ‘South Africa’s biggest reality competition, Idols, is back! For over a decade, the South African version of Idols has been one of the country’s biggest shows, always full of spice, scandal and above all, supers (sic) singing. The show’s forte is forging superstars from raw talent and it has consistently launched the boys and girls next door to the top of the pop charts’ [my italics]. In simple terms, Idols is a competition that launches unknown singing talents, catapults them to stardom and success. In every competition, there are winners and losers, and there are lots, and lots of tears, especially those that are eliminated in the first round of auditions.
It was when I was watching the ‘Wooden Mic’ contenders on Monday night, (‘contestants who believe with all of their hearts that they can sing, only to be greeted by the reality that they sound worse than a broken record’) that I saw the tears and disappointment from those eliminated. In particular, the one contender’s teary comments that caught my attention were ‘It’s so hard to put your life on hold just to chase a dream, a dream you don’t succeed in achieving’. The reality is that the wooden mic contenders cannot sing for their life. Amongst other reasons they don’t make it, according to the judges: ‘they’re unprepared, they don’t know the lyrics of their chosen songs, they seem uninterested, they have no energy, don’t dress the part, they don’t give their best performance, they don’t choose the right songs, plus, they don’t seem like they really want to win the competition’. What makes everything worse, is the way the judges give feedback – it’s harsh, to say the least, mostly unkind, and perhaps a little hurtful. But it’s true. And it’s honest. And right. My heart really goes out to the judges, considering what they have to hear, and see.
My focus on this article is really not on singing. It’s on discovering your real and true talent. As I was thinking about the contestants and how emotionally broken they were, I pondered how they would wake up the following morning with their dreams shattered. And I realised and remembered that most, if not all, would not have any idea of how to move forward, considering that they had put all of their effort into the singing. Some will disappear into oblivion. They will simply not be able to move on. I asked myself a question: Is it possible that their lives are doomed? Maybe. Do they know THEY they have talents? Real talents?
What are the possible issues?
- It occurred to me that maybe some have misguided dreams. Their dreams are based on the affluence that comes with the Idols fame.
- They don’t understand their life purpose.
- Most critically, they don’t really know what their talents are, and where their passions and areas of strengths are.
- They don’t really have goals of what they want to do with their lives.
How, then, do you discover your real talent?
The power to dream
The first thing to do to discover your talent is to define your dream. We all want to be successful in life. What success is and means is different for everyone. It can be becoming a multimillionaire, owning a big mansion, buying your dream car, getting that job with a global company, travelling the world, becoming South Africa’s singing sensation, or simply just passing matric: we are all born inherently wanting to be successful.
But, and a big BUT, you need a dream that will sustain you when you encounter failure and setbacks. And, it must be the right dream. You need to crystallise your dream into a personal vision, but to do that, you need to be specific about your dream. You need to have a dream that is so tangible that you can almost feel it, so that you foresee the success happening. And you develop that by asking yourself: What do I really want in life? Sit down, take a pen, do that exercise. Ask yourself: What do I really want in life?
You need to have a strong sense of purpose: It means knowing who you are, what you want, why do you want what you want. And have a fierce commitment towards your purpose. You need to have a well-defined life purpose, a reason for existence, which is going to define who exactly you are, what values you espouse, and how are you going to live your life.
Your passion, your talents
Your passion is the reason you wake up in the morning, and just the thought of it can keep you up late with excitement. For you to be able to do the things you want to do, for your to be able to achieve the dreams that you want, for you to be able to live the life you want, you need to follow your heart. This is because your heart is more than your body’s most important organ—it’s also the essence of your spiritual and emotional being. You need to know, what it is you love doing, and you need to do it, with all that you can, and all that you are. It’s not enough to just ‘do’ something you’re not good at. You’ll end up being mediocre. Passion drives all achievement in all the fields of your life.
To uncover your talents, you need to ask yourself a set of questions:
- What is my dream?
- What is my life purpose?
- What do I love to do?
- What do I do most of the time?
- What do I keep on trying to do?
- If I could do one thing for the rest of my life, and be happy while doing it, what would it be?
- What would I do, even if I didn’t get paid for it?
- What are my goals?
- What steps and actions do I need to do to unearth my talents, and achieve my goals?
You need to have clear, practical, consistent and achievable goals. Setting goals helps you decide what you want to achieve, and then move step by step towards the achievement of those goals. The process of setting goals and targets allows you to align the things you will do with your dream, and your life’s purpose, what are you passionate about, in other words, your talents and passion, where you want to go in life and what you want to do with it. This confirms what exactly you want to do, and affirms what you have to concentrate on to do it. By setting sharp, clearly defined goals, you can measure and take pride in the achievement of these goals. Because when you achieve your goals, you are on your road to achieving your dreams. You can see progress towards what previously seemed out of reach.
A winning mind
You must have a winning attitude. This means having the courage to succeed, the courage to confront your past/mistakes. When you have encountered failure, the failure would be the first step in refining your dream. You need to understand where you are, so that you can determine where you are going. It also means having resilience when you fall, and have the ability to bounce back. This will also help you to persevere and to hang in there when you are encounter challenges and setbacks, because you will have an understanding that the challenges are just temporary, and will soon pass.
Sometimes you will get negative feedback that will make you feel disillusioned. Don’t feel sorry for yourself. There’s no time for that. Rather, stand up, brush yourself off, and review where you are, where you are going, and how you will get to where you need to get. Move on. If you believe the feedback you received does not really describe you, and you know in your heart of hearts that being an ‘Idol’ is the ultimate dream, then there is always the next season. In the meantime, celebrate life.
My challenge to you? Do you know your talents, your passion? Are your talents informed by your dreams, are they informed by your life purpose? If you happened to be on Idols and were given feedback that you cannot sing, it’s time to do a reality check. Perhaps you your talents are in entertainment, but then singing is not for you. So, what will it be? It all starts with you.
‘Everyone has talent. What’s rare is the courage to follow it to the dark places where it leads.’ Erica Jong