Simon Says…

Many years ago when I first started watching an occasional episode of American Idol, I was shocked, speechless, and sometimes stunned by what “Simon says.” However, I have watched many episodes since then and out of all of the judges, I look forward to his feedback the most.

As a member of Toastmaster’s, nothing bummed me out more than receiving a speech evaluation of, “You are so much better than me so I don’t even know what to say,” or “you are so good, I can never find anything to say bad about your speech.” All that I heard was, “Blah, blah, blah.” That feedback was extremely ineffective and meaningless to me. I imagine the evaluator felt they were cheering me up and making me feel good. Many times, I left the meeting questioning how good or poor my performance was.

So there I was last night in front of my bathroom mirror, brushing my teeth, and thinking, “What would Simon say?” I had lost 5 pounds about a month ago and had not gone up or down since then. I stopped exercising due to some serious chest congestion but had not made any further progress. As I pinched the bit around my waist and turned sideways, I gave myself a Simon, American Idol, reality check. My long term goal was not being met and even though I have a million reasons, “why,” my waist and self image were staying the same. That direct feedback did NOT leave me with a good feeling.

When a person stops and evaluates the situation they are in, there are always two ways to look at it. When I looked at myself in the mirror, it was a great time to acknowledge what was great about the situation. I was down 5 pounds, had not gained it back, and was having this painful discussion with myself! However, with an honest long term evaluation of where I was now and where I want to be this summer when I take off my shirt at the beach, there was clearly more progress that needed to be made. I was still able to pinch more than an inch and it was hard to stomach! Truthful feedback, even when it is not what we want it to be, engages our levels of emotion and motivation which allows us to keep working towards our goals or get frustrated, give up, and quit.

In that painful moment a profound decision was made. I recommitted to my goal and vision of being on the beach. The next morning I was running again and making better food choices. In Toastmasters’, I found some good honest “Simon says” evaluators and engaged them to give me honest, direct, and blunt feedback after the meetings on my performance. I have a newfound appreciation for my new version of “Simon says…”

If you are stuck in a place without much motivation, the first thing you can do is to give yourself some direct “Simon says” feedback. Get real and evaluate your performance today in relationship to what it takes to “be the next American Idol.” Evaluate your current performance to what it will take to win the whole competition. It will show you where you can grow and be more instead of becoming complacent and feeling good where you are. After all, having watched several seasons of American Idol, Simon has always been right.