Susan Boyle and the Two Captains: A Return To Simple Narratives

The singing sensation Susan Boyle who recently auditioned for Britain’s Got Talent, a Simon Cowell creation, has taken the world by storm.

I first got wind of this phenomenon when a friend of mine sent me the link last week. If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look at the YouTube video below, then continue reading.

I have written a lot about how the way physical looks, dress and adornment communicate significant information about us to others. That’s not the subject of this post. What strikes me is that with the endless fixation on news about Octo-Mom, or this or that celebrity’s latest missteps, we are moved by the story of Susan Boyle. Or the story of the Captain of the Maersk Alabama. Or the story of Captain "Sully" Sullenberger, pilot of the airliner that water-landed in the Hudson River. Here are ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Brave things. Average people going about their workaday lives who suddenly are seen as above average.

As my astute virtual assistant, Tassey Russo, told me, as we have gone about simplifying our lives in these difficult times, we also are more drawn to simpler narratives, stories of people who look threats and danger squarely in the eye and shoo it away. We have become exhausted by the negative energy on display almost daily by people who are cowardly, tone-deaf or utterly self-involved. Compare Ms. Boyle and the two captains to Maurice "Ace" Greenburg, the former disgraced CE O of AIG, who when testifying to Congress a couple of weeks ago, refused to accept any responsibility and blamed others for the company’s catastrophic straits. We’re looking for inspiration and motivation and these good people provide it.

They are the real role-models. Their self-worth is not inflated or measured by money and material things. Our admiration for the trappings of wealth and those who promote it is properly transferred to those who are modest and have an accurate understanding of their abilities; they know what they know, how to succeed in extremely difficult circumstances. They are truly deserving of our admiration.

Furthermore, we see ourselves in these people and secretly wonder if called upon, would we step up? We hope we would, but we question it. (They’re just like us. Or are they?) We are plagued by self-doubt because we’re somewhat out of practice; for too long, we have admired and emulated the wrong people for the wrong things.

These people are true leaders and heroes. There are many of them all around us. Let’s find and recognize them.

Ruth Sherman Associates LLC / High Stakes Communication / www.ruthsherman.com

P.S. And, Susan Boyle is a talented singer. I was a voice major in college — I know what I know, too.

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