Archuleta Wins Battle of Davids on American Idol – The Affirmation Spot

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Simon wanted it all season. The judges did everything they could to coax America to vote for it last week. Finally, the David vs. David showdown was reality last night on American Idol. Two Davids, two dreams, but only one spot as the next American Idol.

With everything on the line, Kansas City native David Cook stepped to the microphone first. Tasked by legendary producer Clive Davis with singing U2’s classic “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”, Cook succeeded in doing what he had done all year. He took a classic song and updated it for the new generation. Few singers can sing U2, but Cook flawlessly weaved the existing greatness of the song with his own dead-on musical instincts to deliver a strong first performance.

Suprisingly, the judges did not seem to find “what they were looking for” in the performance. In fact, all night the judges’ preference for Archuleta was apparent. They seemed to criticize Cook for the very originality they had praised all season.

Then it was time for the 17 year-old Archuleta to have his moment “in the sun”. Davis selected the Elton John classic “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down on Me”. The talented young performer delivered a stunning vocal performance that brought the crowd to its feet and drew unqualified praise from Randy, Paula, and Simon.

As he did last week with the Billy Joel song “And So It Goes”, Archuleta proved he could take a classic song by an industry giant and produce vocals those stars could only dream about on their own songs.

Despite Cook’s amazing performance, Simon summed it up, “Round 1 to Archuleta.”

The second songs of the evening were selected by the contestents from the top 10 songs created specifically for the Idol finale. David Cook delivered a solid performance, but Archuleta’s song seemed a better fit and he sang it for all he was worth. Again, the judges gave the nod to David A.

For round 3, the Davids were allowed to pick their own song. It could be something they sang earlier in the season or something new. David Cook chose Collective Soul’s “The World I Know”. Again, Cook proved that performers in this genre of music will soon be making room for him on the charts. While the song did not deliver the climactic bang Simon was seeking, it showed that David Cook is an artist and an original who will be heard from after the Idol lights fade.

Finally, David Archuleta took the stage for the season’s final song. He selected John Lennon’s “Imagine”. Let’s face it, this is one of the greatest songs ever. However, it is usually performed in vocally uninteresting ways. The young prodigy from Utah closed the show with an unbelievable rendition. He uncovered shades and nuances of the song with his vocals that I’ve never heard. It was really amazing!

In the charged response that followed, Simon declared that young David had, “Scored a knockout”.

Of course, that determination is up to voters across the country. We will all find out tonight on the results show whether America concurs with the judges.

Yet, this much is clear. David Archuleta rose to the occasion last night when every dream the young singer must have was battling against the nerves he must have been experiencing. He challenged a very talented, more experienced singer who is also heading for superstardom and he won.

There will only be one American Idol crowned this evening, but both Davids will emerge with their dreams in tact. Both are winners beyond the obligatory compliment used to soothe the pain of defeat.

American Idol continues to roll along not because it is a singing competiton, but because it taps into our collective desire to see dreams come true. Seeing it reminds us all that ours are still possible too.

Stay Inspired!


Beyond the Survivor China Finale – The Affirmation Spot for Monday December 17, 2007

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Today’s affirmation is:

“Today I am succeeding in life without compromising my values.”


Last night was the season finale of America’s favorite reality show – Survivor. I am a passive fan of the show. My wife really enjoys it and so I wind up watching about half the episodes each season with her.

For those of you who are regular viewers, you know all about the final tribal council. Let me catch up those readers who don’t watch the show. The goal of the show is to become the sole survivor and to win $1 million.

On the final show each season, the jury – comprised of the last seven people voted out – has an opportunity to question the final three survivors as to why each deserves the jury’s vote for the million dollars.

Invariably, the subject of deceit and lying comes up. The accepted wisdom of the show is that these characteristics are necessary to advance in the game. Generally, those players who are most adept at duplicity and use it without compunction are contenders to win the show.

The jury is comprised of people victimized by the treachery. Often they are understandably bitter and chastise the finalists for this behavior. The response is always the same. “Hey, it was just ‘game’. It’s not who I really am outside the game.”
Afterall, lying, cheating, stealing, and stabbing in the back are not only the norm in the game, but the only way to have a chance to win.

The Survivor book of wisdom says that honesty, concern for others, and integrity are characteristics that demonstrate weakness and are likely to get you eliminated.

This season, as is often the case, the biggest schemer in the game was awarded the million dollars. At the end of the day, the jury normally recognizes and rewards that person’s behavior. The jury develops A kind of awe of the person’s ability to “play the game”.

The message is clear. It is not that the game should have been conducted more honorably, but that whatever expedient means are necessary to win, are acceptable. Vice becomes virtue.

Of course, ‘the game’ in survivor is only a thinly veiled reference to the game of life we all play every day. The fact that these values are rewarded in a microcosm representing our world is troubling. This is a highly popular show watched by millions of children and young adults.

Is Survivor unwittingly teaching this generation that the fastest way to success is to abandon a positive approach to life and do whatever you must to achieve? Is the take away that as long as I can separate who I really am from what I have to do to win, it’s OK?

The news has recently been filled with information that some of baseball’s most respected icons may have been cheating the system and skewing the record books. This generation’s top hitter (Barry Bonds) and its top pitcher (Roger Clemens) have been implicated in the scandal along with a who’s who list of the games brightest stars. Are we seeing another
version of the same mentality – “I’ll do whatever I must to be on top?”

Are Survivor and the baseball scandal broadcasting a warning to us? I want to shy away from empty moralizing here, but taking the shortcuts or the easy way is always a temptation in life. We’ve gone beyond “me-first” to “me-only” thinking.

However,when this mentality rules in a society that society is risking collapse. No one trusts anyone else and every one hunkers down in a bunker mentality. People become short-sighted and the ability to cooperate lessens.

We need to ask ourselves whether or not this message represents the society we all want to live in.

We are capable of so much more! There is a superior way to achieve in life. We can build our skills, improve our outlook, and work towards our goals. We can learn to work towards goals that benefit me, but don’t tear down your dreams in the process. We can, indeed we must, pursue our dreams without leaving footprints on the backs of our colleagues
and friends.

I’m not advocating a world where there are no winners and no losers or where everything is “fair”. Such a world does not really exist. I’m also not saying Survivor isn’t tantalizing entertainment or pushing the idea that it should be off the air.

What I am suggesting is that we remember something clearly forgotten in Survivor and the baseball scandal. We cannot separate who we truly are from what we are willing to do to win. The real “game” we are here to play is one where we must learn to maximize our own potential without hurting others in the process.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Be peaceful Be prosperous


The Affirmation Spot

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