When Simon Says… Keep the Critics from Killing Your Spirit
Even if you never set foot on the stage of an “American Idol” audition, it is 100% guaranteed that you will eventually meet up with a Simon. You know, that person who is full of shot-gunned critiques. Whether they be image, personally or professionally focused, whether you ask for them or not, they always have something to say.
However, if you let them have too much power, sometimes Simons can prompt a mortally-wounded response, leaving you second-guessing your gifts and abilities, or even worse, gutted to the point that you don’t even want to try.
My Simon was guised as a college feature-writing professor. At times my articles would come back looking like road kill — and I would be in tears. Did God really want me to be a writer? Were my parents just trying to save my feelings by telling me that I was good with a pen?
I let the critiques fester so deep, I began seeing myself as a victim of a personal attack. So out came my cat claws along with the occasional not-so-nice thought, I bet she would even give Katie Couric an ‘F’ if she were in this class or maybe she’ll get a chronic case of cafeteria-related food poisoning and I won’t have to deal with her for the rest of the semester.
The feelings and insecurities were the same for CCM R&B recording artist George Huff, when he found himself face to face with the notorious real-life Simon Cowell on the audition stage for the third season of “American Idol.”
Like a number of the other contestants that were on the show, it took a huge school bill for George to jump out of his comfort zone and open himself up to the bullets of the critics. “I’d shied away from doing that kind of thing because of my look,” says the wildcard pick. “But, I felt I didn’t have a choice but to do the show. I was praying to God, ‘How am I going to pay off this huge debt?’ Then God released me and helped me take on the mind of Christ and it was no longer about my image and what I was insecure about.”
But even though George felt the release, the image issue was the first thing that Simon swooped on. “Simon said I was old fashioned and didn’t look like an ‘American Idol.’ Before they chose the final 32, I was sent home.”
Then an amazing thing happened. “I remember sitting on the couch thinking if that competition wasn’t there, would I still be doing what I am called to do — and that’s ministry. When I finally realized that ministry was in the picture whether “American Idol” was or not, the phone rang and the person on the other end said, ‘You have two hours to get on a plane and come back to the show.’”
With God’s purpose in the forefront, George’s mindset totally changed. “I felt like I had already gone through the worst. ‘Come on Simon, tell me how old and how terrible I am. I can take this.’ I had already been through it.” He knew that being on the show was part of God’s plan to stretch his gifts. At the same time, with that in his spirit, he didn’t feel the need to retaliate against biting comments and wasn’t really broken up when he finally was voted off the show.
For George, the “American Idol” experience definitely had more perks than negatives. During his time in Hollywood, George got a chance to be styled, as well as coached by the best in the industry in regards to his stage performance and vocal technique. In just five short months George built a huge fan base and was transformed into the artist we know and love today.
Since his rise to fame, George, who says he will never get tired of being labeled the “former ‘American Idol’,” inked a deal with Word Records and was nominated for a Dove for his 2005 release Miracles. As well as the honor of awards and a number of guest TV appearances, George is also partnering with the Gospel Music Channel and Ford to produce “Miracles”, which is part of the “Bold Moves” campaign showcasing Ford products, customers and employees making bold moves in their lives.
No matter what the critics might say, George believes the key to working through it lies in making it not about you. “You’ve got to be focused on purpose — the divine call that God has placed on your life. When you’re focused on that, it doesn’t matter what Simon says or what critics say. It doesn’t matter what the outcome is. God will allow both good and bad to work in your favor.”
So, what are some other ways to keep the critics from killing your spirit?
When you ask for honest critiques, be prepared for the hard truth — both positive and negative. “You are perhaps the worst singer in the world” would probably not be the kind of response you would like to ever receive, but there may be some truth to it.
Stay positive, even when you’re feeling like you’re being attacked instead of critiqued.
Learn to filter information. Just because someone didn’t enjoy your presentation, doesn’t mean they didn’t see something of value in it.
When you are being criticized, come at it with the right attitude. A humble attitude speaks volumes about your character.
Don’t let positive feedback go to your head so much that it keeps you from working on problem areas.
There are people who only dish out destructive criticism. Don’t take it as a personal fault, but make it your goal to come away with at least one thing you can work to improve.
Don’t be too proud to admit you have room to grow in your gifts. Even the most trained and tested musicians and artists can improve in one way or another.
If you doubt the critique that you’ve received, get a second opinion, but not from a family member or friend.
Remember, in front of the judges, you are judged by your performance, not you as a person.
Never change the heart of who you are to fit the mold that your critics would like you to fit.
Pray for your Simons, and ask God to help you learn from your critics.
For more information on George Huff and his national debut release, Miracles, visit www.georgehuffworld.com
Amber would like to thank Dr. Johnson, who she lauds as being the professor who taught her the most about writing and editing. Now Amber has a red pen of her own and is not afraid to use it.