Career Lessons from Kris Allen

Regular readers know that American Idol is my guilty pleasure and last night, the show provided a rare surprise – despite the fact that producers and judges had been hyping a finale between Danny Gokey and Adam Lambert all season, a dark horse contestant sneaked in under the wire, beat one of the two the judge’s favorites and made it into the finale.

The whole thing reminded me of a question I saw from a job seeker the other day. I volunteer as a career expert for Careerealism on Twitter, where people send in their job search/career questions and a bunch of us give our best advice. One of the questions was about a co-worker who was not pulling her weight, but who was getting away with it. The question was: “should I tell my boss what she’s really up to.”

Most of us said no. First, speaking negatively about a co-worker just winds up making you look bad and second, the truth will usually come out anyway if you just keep your head down and do your work.

Kris Allen’s ascent on American Idol just proves this point. It didn’t matter that he wasn’t given a lot of screen time in the early rounds. It didn’t matter that the judges routinely dismissed his performances and praised less worthy attempts to the high heavens. It didn’t matter that Simon Cowell went on a publicity tour to tell everyone Kris would never make the finals – none of it mattered because every week Kris just worked hard, kept his head down, and earned new fans. And so we came to last night and the shots of the judges with their jaws literally hanging open as the results were announced.

Times are tough right now and a lot of you are doing more work than you’re paid to do. If you’re also carrying someone who doesn’t deserve to be there, please don’t try to push the issue by talking to your boss or, as one employee I once knew did, sending an anonymous letter (really!). Just pull a Kris Allen. Ignore what everyone else is doing and just focus on doing your best every day. It will pay off

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