Motivational and inspirational writer, Bryan Hutchinson is the author of several books about life with ADHD including the highly acclaimed, best selling "One Boy′s Struggle: A Memoir" and the author of the hilarious eBook that went viral "10 Things I Hate about ADHD"

American Idol and a Valuable Lesson for People with ADD or ADHD

Okay, I admit it, I am a fan of American Idol. Yep, you got me there. I intend this to be a fun post, but you know how intentions are…

I think Crystal Bowersox will win it all this year; however, I think Siobhan has an outside chance to become the dark horse and give Crystal a run for her money. A few long weeks ago Siobhan proved she has what it takes to win it when she rocked the Rolling Stone’s episode, but she has fizzled ever since. There is a very good reason why she has fizzled of late. As a matter of fact it is the same reason it would have behooved Katie Stevens to listen to Simon when he suggested she go in more of a country direction. Katie was rather lost on the show as to what kind of artist she is, or wants to be.

Now, think about this for a moment, Simon is one of the most successful in the music business when it comes to spotting talent and pointing that talent in the right direction. Simon is arguably far more successful than his judge counterparts at spotting real talent. Ever wonder why he gets paid so much more, it’s not just because he entertains us with his direct take-no-prisoners verbiage, although he does that quite well too. He picked Adam Lambert to win it last year, but as we know Adam did not win; however, who do you hear on the air waves all day long from last season? You guessed it. That’s why Katie should have taken Simon’s advice, but she didn’t. If you listen to all of Katie’s performances it becomes obvious that only the one’s with a country bearing did she actually rock (which Simon suggested all along).

Why didn’t Katie listen? Youth, stubbornness or she doesn’t care for country music or was it the mixed messages from the other judges? There’s still hope for her after all, she has the summer Idol tour and she more than likely will get a record deal, so let’s see if she decides to pay attention to Simon’s advice then.

Just a very short note on Simon’s direction: Carrie Underwood didn’t have to listen to Simon tell her which direction she needed to go in, because, well, she was already in it (country), and what did Simon predict at the time? Only that she would be the most successful Idol ever to win it, and she hadn’t even won yet! Again, he was right. How did he know? If you think that’s something, Simon mentors Susan Boyle and Leona Lewis from his British shows, both are going in the right direction, breaking records and singing their hearts out. There’s more to it, of course, but when a huge new name hits the scene with awesome music that captures your attention, there’s typically one name behind the scenes (sometimes in front), Simon Cowell. We don’t have to like him to recognize the fact he can pick ‘em and lead ’em.

American Idol and Simon Cowell provide a valuable lesson for ADDers everywhere, each and every week; as a matter of fact it’s pretty much a good lesson for just about anyone. However, ADDers, I think, are closely related to entertainers, so this lesson I will reveal (if you haven’t guessed it already) hits home for us especially:

Find your direction (who you are), stick with it and build from there, but also be flexible enough to listen to wise mentors – especially those with a proven track record.

American Idol proves to us week in and week out that it takes more than talent to make it. It takes direction, finding who you are as an artist (person) and build on that. When the voting starts for the top whatever number on American Idol, the ones with the best chance of staying are the ones who already know who they are as an artist and they build on that from week to week.  Who’s the current front runner? Crystal Bowersox. But why? Yes, she is ultra talented, but so is Katie Stevens. Crystal knows who she is as an artist and she builds on that week to week to week and she gets better and better. Crystal has a signature and you know she’s going to bring it.

As an example only: Katie Stevens represents many of us ADDers in what I am trying to suggest. We are constantly in flux, we are constantly distracted and we have difficulty finding our true direction. Furthermore, many of us are confused about ourselves and stubborn to a fault. However, from time to time in our lives there comes along someone like Simon Cowell and gives us accurate, much needed direction. We might not like it or agree with it, but it is still accurate, and yet, for some reason we all too typically ignore it. Katie’s still young, she’s going to make it big time. She’s brimming with talent and if she takes the right direction, the sky is the limit. The same thing goes for a lot of us, no matter our age.

I know all too well that there have been several Simon Cowell’s in my life and I know when I have listened (read my book One Boy’s Struggle for the best examples) and benefited from listening, and I know when I have ignored their advice to my own detriment. Gosh, looking back on some of the dooziest I have ignored, I just want to stop writing this right now! But, many of us have the same problem Katie had, we are getting mixed messages. In our minds we have all the other judges up there giving us different advice and directions, so we get distracted and even more confused. The best we can do sometimes is look at who’s giving us advice and recognize what they have been successful at. If they know what they are talking about and are the best at what they do, we might want to listen a little more closely.

In my book One Boy’s Struggle I told you about how I started seeking out and listening to mentors and, of course, you know what happened. My life started to change profoundly for the better. Oh yes, and there have been times when I have been stubborn and distracted, thought I knew best and, unfortunately, paid the consequences much as Katie did. However, I have been fortunate enough to have other chances. I have learned to listen more intently.

I realize that even though I have ADD I am an individual with talents, but sometimes I can use a little direction. Just because I have ADD doesn’t prevent me from learning from my mistakes and listening to those who have been there and done that successfully. However, we have to be very wary of the blind leading the blind, as the saying goes. You might do worse than just stub your toe. Seeking the right mentor, with the right credentials and a proven track record for overcoming, succeeding and leading is probably best. What do you think?

I would love to see Siobhan make the final 2. She can do it, she’s proven it, but she has only unquestionably proven it one episode, every other week she has gone in one direction or the other, never quite matching her best performance. I hope she re-finds herself before it is too late. I hope she listens to Simon this time. If she does, she could potentially steal the prize from Crystal. Hit that note Siobhan!

Of interest: Tim Urban listened closely to the judges and was on the rise. I think he was a bit late in getting around to defining himself; however, with that said, I think Tim will be one of the most successful from the 2010 season when he becomes a commercial artist. I personally think he had the best attitude of this year’s contestants and it will take him very far. Sometimes attitude can make all the difference, even for a substitute who was a last minute call-in for the final 24 and made it to #7 for 2010 – out of how many contestants?

When it comes to ADD and ADHD, it takes more than the right direction and a good attitude, but considering the alternatives, we could do worse for ourselves.

–Whew! That’s it for this one folks. Hopefully I’ve made a little sense with this analogy, please let me know what you think.–

Here’s Katie’s country rendition of Wild Horses on American Idol: