You’ve Got Talent!

She was a contestant on Britain’s Got Talent in 2009. She walked on stage, no make-up, untidy hair, unfashionable dress, an unattractive, unemployed, overweight woman, seemingly past her prime.

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It took enormous courage for a shy, introverted person like her. Perhaps that’s why judge, Simon Cowell, was polite in the onstage interview but you could see he was unimpressed.

There was bravado in her banter – when asked her age, she replied “47” adding with a hip-shimmy “and that’s just one side of me”. Everyone but her, looked embarrassed.

Asked about her goal, she said she wanted to become a professional singer. The audience laughed and Simon asked: “Why hasn’t it worked out so far?”

“I’ve never been given the chance before, here’s hoping it’ll change,” was her reply.

There was eye-rolling and more laughter from the audience when she confessed her dream was to be as successful as Elaine Page, Britain’s undisputed first lady of musical theatre, who starred in dozens of West End shows including Evita, Cats, Chess and Jesus Christ Superstar.

“What are you going to sing tonight?” The judge asked. Her choice was startling, “I Dreamed A Dream” from Les Miserables, a demanding song, clearly an over-reach for an amateur.

Yet, she stood her ground.

The audience tittered. Simon sighed, clearly expecting 3 minutes of cringe-worthy spectacle, gave her the nod.

The music began. People held their breath. She gave a little smile.

And then, Susan Boyle opened her mouth and sang.

In seconds, people were on their feet, clapping, amazed, delighted. Her clear, strong mezzo-soprano voice soared, her powerful expression of the song, taking them with her on a spine-tingling flight of inspiration.

The faces of the judges told the story, during one of the most stunning performances you’ll ever hear. It was literally jaw-dropping. At the end, the entire theatre erupted in a standing ovation.

Judge Piers Morgan said it was “the biggest surprise in three years on this show … everyone was laughing at you; no one’s laughing now”. The female judge Amanda Holden, moist-eyed, said she was thrilled, “Everybody was against you, I honestly think we were all being very cynical and it was the biggest wake-up call ever … it was a complete privilege listening to that.” A yes vote from all three judges sent her on to the next round.

Susan Boyle eventually came second in Britain’s Got Talent but judge Simon Cowell worked with her and her first album became the UK’s best selling debut album ever. It was the second best selling album of 2009 in USA. By 2013 she’d made three more albums, sold 19 million albums worldwide, been only the third act ever to top both UK & US charts twice in the same year, performed before the queen and with her idol Elaine Page, wowed audiences in a solo tour, received several Grammy award nominations and accumulated a personal worth estimated at over £22 million.

Britain’s Got Talent provided Susan Boyle with an opportunity. She took it and the world is a better place for that.

We’re not all going to sing with a voice that rocks the world but I believe each of us has, as yet unrealized, potential. We all have unique talent that will enable us to soar and bring people with us.

The question is, how do we discover our talent? How do we develop it? How do we find and take the opportunity to show it?

And, can we see past our pre-judgment to encourage and support other people to live up to their potential?

Mentors do, if we equip them with the mindset, skills and tools that enable them to see talent and develop it.

At Mentoring Works, we now incorporate strengths-based development into our workshops for mentors and mentorees and run strengths development programs for individuals and teams, with or without a mentoring component. This enables people to identify hidden talent, develop strengths and apply them in ways that increase engagement, productivity and teamwork. Leaders learn how to increase the motivation, effectiveness and performance of their team.

If you’d like to chat about how we can help you develop your talent call or email me now to set up a time to talk.

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About Ann Rolfe

Ann Rolfe is internationally recognised as Australia's leading specialist in mentoring, and is available for speaking, training and consulting. Here Ann shares her knowledge and allows you to ask your most pressing questions about mentoring.

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