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by Jennifer Brown Banks

Who's on Your American Idol Team?

“I get by with a little help from my friends.”

I think that American Idol’s Simon Cowell really gets a bad rap! Though I don’t always agree with his caustic comments, I can appreciate the guy’s honesty. In fact, I think we could all use our own “American Idol” panel when it comes to personal and professional success. But there’s one caveat: be careful from whom you seek advice!

Truth is, everybody’s got an opinion. But that doesn’t mean you should treat it as gospel! Too often I find that there is a lot of bad advice and good intentions. Particularly when it comes to relationships.

The funny thing is that remedies for relationship woes are almost like medical remedies. Application depends upon individual dynamics. In other words, what works for you may not work for me, and vice versa. Still, objective input can be valuable. Sometimes we’re much too close to a situation to see it clearly. As they say, “love is blind.”

So here's how to assemble your own American Idol team and what to consider:

» Do consider seeking advice from people who have demonstrated a genuine interest in your emotional and spiritual well-being. People who have been supportive in the past.

» Don"t take input from individuals who have issues of insecurity and jealousy, or those with a hidden agenda.

» Do consult people who have a proven track record in the areas that you are in need of help. Have you ever noticed that the judges on American Idol have had careers in either performing on stage or managing talent?

» Don"t take the advice of those who are struggling, or have failed in your area of weakness. It would be a case of the blind leading the blind.

» Do seek out someone who is trustworthy. Can he/she be counted on to keep your confidences? Have they breached vows with others?

» Don"t confide all your dreams and fears in gossips. If they tell other folks’ business, it’s just a matter of time before you will be the topic of talk as well.

» Do consider that everyone on your team probably shouldn’t be consulted equally about everything. For example, when I’m seeking career advice, I often look to other writers in the field that have ventured where I’m trying to go. Among them are a best selling author, a magazine publisher, and a fellow poet. I wouldn’t necessarily go to my sister for input, because she doesn’t have that background or knowledge base to draw from. Now, if I needed decorating ideas, I’d call her first! I also place great stock in what my mom says, in terms of my writing, because she seems to have a knack for knowing what works. Now, advice on matters of the heart would be different. Here’s where mom and I differ and our paths diverge!

» Do make sure that your team of “experts” is diverse. Ideally it should be men and women, young and old.

» Don"t try to choose people who are “yes men”---meaning that they agree with you or stroke your ego simply for the sake of making you feel good about yourself, or avoiding conflict.

» Do allow yourself to be open to criticism. I’m often amazed at how some of the singers on the Idol show have such poor attitudes when their performance is being critiqued. Some rant and rave, use profanity and even throw out threats against the judges. “If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen! “ How else will you grow?

» Don"t think you know everything. My mom has often told me that you can learn something from everybody, if you’re receptive. I’ve found in my own personal life that elders are particularly helpful when it comes to parenting issues and resolving relationship conflict.

The bottom line? Believe in yourself, be objective, and do what works for you. Always strive for your personal best. After all, you are the final judge.

> - The best approach to find the one. <

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Jennifer's Gems is a weekly column written by award-winning poet and writer, Jennifer Brown Banks. It is published every Wednesday. Click here to read her welcome letter.

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