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A lesson from Susan Boyle’s confident performance




Britain's Got Talent contestant Susan Boyle teaches the power of confidence that comes from within

Have you ever had someone make negative assumptions about you before giving you a chance?   Perhaps you don’t fit the traditional mold of the dreams you aspire to – you feel you’re too young, too old, too big, not attractive enough, experienced enough, educated enough, or [you fill in the blank].  When it comes to your dreams, what really matters is whether you have the talent, grit and confidence to rise to the occasion when opportunity knocks – just as 47 year old Susan Boyle did on Britain’s Got Talent a week ago.   According to the Washington Post, videos of Ms. Boyle have been viewed 85 million times in the last week.


 The unemployed, never-married and admittedly “never kissed” singer had, until this month, sung only in her local town.  Many columnists and commentators have simplified the reaction, saying the audience – with its eye-rolling, snickers and sarcasm before her performance – judged the book by its cover.  Indeed, they did.  But the reaction goes deeper than that.  How do you explain the tears and resounding cheers from that same audience within seconds of Ms. Boyle’s opening notes? 


 It was more than her voice that led them from jeers to tears to cheers.  Besides a bit of guilt from realizing how shallow they’d been in judging her, I think many related to being the underdog.  Overlooked.  Underestimated.  Ridiculed for having the audacity to believe that your dream is possible – especially if you don’t look the part. 


 In a world of slick marketing and Photo-shopped magazine covers, we seem to readily discount anything or anyone who doesn’t measure up.  In fact, if Susan Boyle looked like a typical pop star, we wouldn’t be talking about her.  No one is shocked when a beautiful, young woman has talent.  We seem to give beautiful people the benefit of the doubt.  As a culture, we’ve even been known to make celebrities out of people with no talent as long as they look good.


 While the audience seemed uncomfortable with Ms. Boyle’s looks, she seemed perfectly comfortable – and refreshingly confident as she walked on stage with her hand on her hip.  “I’m going to make that audience rock,” she said backstage before her performance.  She knew she had the talent and she believed in herself. 


How about you?  Do you believe in yourself?  Do you too quickly judge others?  Coach yourself with these two coaching questions:


  1.  In what way are you underestimating yourself right now?  Perhaps it’s time to step up and stop hiding the gifts you have to offer the world.  We will all be better off if you let your light shine.
  2. Is there someone you aren’t giving a chance because they don’t “look the part”?  Look beyond the cover and you might discover some unexpected positives.

 (If you want to hear a little more of Ms. Boyle, check out her rendition of Cry Me a River from a charity CD 10 years ago:


Valorie Burton is a Professional Certified Coach (PCC), speaker, and author of five books, including Why Not You?  28 Days to Authentic Confidence,  What’s Really Holding You Back? and How Did I Get So Busy?  Subscribe to her free e-newsletter at and follow her at



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