By Sunny Simon
Just as I tuned into “The Voice” the other evening I witnessed a singer experiencing a timing issue. Immediately I felt his pain. Performing live in front of millions of viewers demands precision. Drawing on his courage and skill he quickly recovered and the remainder of the performance was flawless. Immediately after the song, he was interviewed by the host and admitted he came in two beats too soon on the introduction and had to start over. The judges rose to his support by explaining even after years of performing seasoned professionals make mistakes. It was at this point where I felt the performance went awry. The judges were signaling forgiveness but our wanna-be star appeared closed off to the input probably experiencing a mental beating from his inner gremlins. Instead of relaxing into the supportive feedback, the contestant crossed his arms tightly over his chest listening with pain written across his face seemingly paralyzed by his fear of failure. I understood his disappointment, but wished he had gracefully held his head high and let it go.
When are we ever going to learn there is no such thing as perfection? I believe in setting the bar high. I support shooting for the stars, going for the gold or in this case striving to capture that coveted title. Conversely, we must acknowledge in the real world, not our make believe version, professionals make errors. How many times have we witnessed star figure skaters, like Katarina Wit or Kristi Yamaguchi landing on their backsides. For years we watched “the agony of defeat” clip on ABC’s Wild World of Sports. The producers of that show reminded the viewing audience in “the thrill of victory” is linked to defeat. Hard as we try, we don’t win them all.
Many of us struggle with the obsession to never be less than picture perfect. That is exactly the right term: obsession. If you find yourself in that category, it may be time to make a change. I love the term “recovering perfectionist” because ridding yourself of the fear of one false move is a process. Begin by acknowledging that mistakes are as common as breathing.
The next time your key presentation, job interview or big date doesn’t go exactly as planned, spend a short moment acknowledging what went wrong and how you can improve, then move on. The test of a real winner is the ability to admit defeat graciously but more importantly, the power to release, not fixate on the loss. It is said that practice makes perfect, perhaps better put, as a life practice avoid upset at imperfections in you or in others.
Sunny Simon is the owner of Raise the Bar High Life and Career Coaching. More about Sunny at www.raisethebarhigh.com