If you don’t follow America’s Got Talent and you’ve never heard of Kodi Lee, stop reading this and watch this clip from his first appearance on AGT:
Spoiler alert, for those of you too lazy to watch the video: Kodi Lee is blind and autistic. He walks on the stage escorted by his mother, who is confident and articulate in the spotlight even though her son seemingly lacks those attributes.
The judges pepper Kodi and his mom with questions. Simon is more skeptical than usual. I knew nothing of his story the first time I saw his audition and found myself wondering what talent Kodi was going to share with the world.
Then he sets his walking stick aside and steps behind a Steinway grand piano. After an awkward silence, he begins to tickle the ivories and let his unbelievable, otherwordly voice loose.
To say I couldn’t believe my eyes and ears would be an understatement. Kodi sounds incredible. He is a natural on the piano, a superstar singing on a stage with millions of people watching him. A minute earlier he had been a blind, autistic boy unsure of himself. It’s as if a kindergartener showed up on an NBA court and started throwing down windmill dunks.
How often do we prematurely judge others and conclude that they have “no talent” or are “hopeless?” How often do we criticize ourselves for the same offense? We could see what Kodi Lee appeared to be, but you can’t see someone’s heart, someone’s soul, or someone’s passion by simply by looking at him.
Kodi Lee reminded me to never judge anyone’s potential by how he looks. We need to have a “growth mindset” so that when we meet other people, we see them as the best version of themselves and not what they appear to be at the moment. Otherwise we’d look at a caterpillar wriggling across the ground and view it as another grubby insect, not as the beautiful butterfly it will one day become.