After watching the American Idol finale last week, I was convinced (like many millions of others) that David Archuleta would win. But when he didn’t, I was completely confused. I found myself going back through the last performances and trying to figure out why. I honestly don’t even regularly watch the show, but my curiosity was now in control. I wanted to understand how David Cook pulled off one of the bigger upsets in American Idol history – and by over 12 million votes, I might add. This wasn’t just about winning a singing competition. I wanted to know what was within David Cook had that made him win. Because if I could figure that out, perhaps maybe I could find that level of success in my own career.
But as I looked closer, it seemed like any strength that one had, the other could balance out with his own strengths.
- David Cook had more of a sexy rock-star look. But David Archuleta had a rabid following of younger fans that preferred his boyish rock-star appeal.
- David Archuleta sang classically composed songs that could have competed at the level of Whitney Houston hits. David Cook made up for that by pouring more passion into his edgier songs.
- David Archuleta was absolutely overwhelmed and humbled by the glowing response given by the audience and judges during his performances. David Cook responded by being so overwhelmed with emotion while singing Collective Soul’s The World I Know that he brought Paula Abdul (and the rest of the room) to a standing ovation.
At the end of watching their final performances, I was honestly stumped. It seemed like Archuleta had the competition in the bag. So I sat back and watched the winner announcement show.
More than half-way in, the male contestants started doing a performance of several songs, and suddenly Bryan Adams appears to sing his song “Heaven” with them. My husband is getting envious that these kids get to sing with such a great musician.
And suddenly, I stumbled upon my answer.
In a singing competition, it was ironic that it wasn’t anything said or sung. It was so subtle that you probably missed it. And yet, it summed up the competition in one gesture, and it also explained immediately why Cook won and Archuleta lost.
At the end of the song, all six male Idol contest finalists were singing alongside Bryan Adams, and as they sang the very last line of the song, David Cook casually slung his arm over Bryan Adam’s shoulder.
And this is probably one of those anti-climatic moments in which you go “Uh, Wendy, WTF does him putting his arm around Bryan Adams have to do with anything”? But I believe this was evidence that the Butterfly Effect was in action as people made their votes for the Americal Idol winner.
What is the Butterfly Effect? The phrase refers to the Chaos Theory work of Edward Lorenz, suggesting that a butterfly’s wings might create tiny changes in the atmosphere that may ultimately alter the path of a tornado or delay, accelerate or even prevent the occurrence of a tornado in a certain location. It explains how seemingly tiny, inconsequential events can have a huge impact in the future.
David Cook felt comfortable enough to stand shoulder to shoulder with a rock legend. It has everything to do with him winning, because it showed that David Cook was able to own the success of an American Idol.
Can you imagine David Archuleta putting his arm around Bryan Adams? I only had to watch him a fraction of the season to be able to say that I don’t think he would have done it. David Archuleta was extraordinarily talented, served up flawless performances, was able to lead the pack for nearly the entire season, and undoubtedly will continue to go on to be a superstar someday. But in the last days of American Idol, that superstardom was still too big for Archuleta to touch. You could see it in his face, in his body language, and especially in his eyes. David Archuleta felt like winning the competition was still infinitely bigger than him.
David Cook, on the other hand was just as humble, but he stepped into the superstardom that American Idol offered him, and he accepted it. Although he technically put his arm around Bryan Adams after the voting was completed, it shows exactly where he was mentally and emotionally leading up to the end of the competition.
Voters picked up on David’s confidence and rewarded him for it. He made subtle, tiny indications of his confidence along the way, and I bet that many people didn’t even realize it affecting their decision. But those tiny indications contributed more than a little to the fact that David Cook won.
So What Does David Cook’s Confidence Have to do With You and Me?
I actually had a bit of an epiphany when I realized the implications of what I had uncovered. Sometimes success seems so dang huge, like I’m trying to walk around in clown shoes that are 10 sizes too big, but instead of growing into them, I’m really just walking around like a clown. It seems like that level of success would rip me open because it’s so much bigger than just little ole me, a mom sitting with her laptop in her little home office, just wanting to help people make a living from home.
In that moment of watching David Cook win, I saw someone so likable, so talented, and so deserving of that prize own his truth. And I realized that even now, when someone gives me a compliment, or acknowledges what I have accomplished, I still squirm a little and will even sometimes downplay it.
Tiny, self-depreciating indications that I haven’t quite owned my own truth – that I am here to change lives. End of sentence. No explanations, no justifications. My mission with Sparkplugging is to reach every single person in the world that I can with the tools they need to succeed.
Who am I not to own this? It’s what I have been put on this earth to do. And perhaps this tiny little blog post can serve as a “Butterfly” for me to finally own my greatness – and who knows where it will lead someday?
So this is where I ask you: What were you put on this earth to do? What subtle ways have you been denying your own truth? And in what tiny, subtle ways can you make changes to move towards who you were born to be?