Thursday, February 26, 2009

Speaking Your Mind

We like a lot of the competition reality shows around our house, including Top Chef, Project Runway, Hell's Kitchen, Amazing Race, True Beauty, and others.  One of our favorites, however, is American Idol.  Us and about 35 million other people, apparently.

The best thing about American Idol, in my opinion, is Simon.  Most people love to hate Simon, but I think he's great.  I love how you never know what is going to come out of his mouth.  He never sugar-coats anything.  I think one of the things that makes the show so successful is that everyone watching imagines he had Simon's courage to just say what he thought to everyone.

When we are children, we have no problem saying exactly what we think.  How many times have we all heard a young child point out something about a person that is embarrassing?  "Mommy, look at that thing on his face!"  "You smell bad!"  There is no filter in their minds that stops them from saying these potentially hurtful things.

Yet as we grow older, we begin to learn from society that there are some things better kept to yourself.  Most people eventually learn to speak "only if you have something nice to say."  Some people of course learn this later than others.  I, personally, went to high school with an entire school's worth of late bloomers in this category.

Yet, I watch Simon and see that we could all learn something there.  There is something liberating and healthy to flat-out-honest talk with no hidden meaning and no games.  If we lived in a world full of Paula Abdul's would it be possible for us to grow and evolve into better people?  Or would we all just become a bunch of coddled pansies?  I think we need some Simon's out there to push us to be better.

At work, and at home, the world would be better if people said what they meant all the time.  Not in a cruel way, but in a way that will take the guess work out of navigating relationships.  Is my boss happy with my work performance?  Does that friend really want to hang out with me?  Does my wife still enjoy being with me as much as she did when we got married?  Maybe you wouldn't like the answers, but at least you could quit living in self doubt.

In the politically correct world that we live in, everyone is so concerned about hurting other people's feelings, or saying the wrong thing and getting sued!  It is killing the "say what you mean" way of life.  Everyone wants to skirt around issues like a skillful politician.

So, I say bravo to Simon for encouraging people to tell it like it is.  For every person that learns this lesson, this world will be a better, more truthful place.  Sometimes hurt feelings are better than denial, knowing a persons thoughts are better than guessing, and sharing is better than bottling up.

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