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Perfection Paralysis.

When I did my first two TV appearances, I didn’t realise I’d be as nervous as I was.

I had been experiencing a bad case of the nerves for a few days before, so severe that I even considered bailing out at the last minute. I thought I had worked through it all. How wrong I was. Sweaty palms, tense shoulders, and a posture as stiff as an ironing board sitting on that damn couch. There was more work to be done channeling all that nervous energy in a more productive way.

And, of course Little Miss Critic, being the self-appointed whip-cracker that she is, put that whip to good use; going over my responses and thrashing me for saying some of the things I did, and not saying the things I should have. I wasn’t perfect. My responses weren’t perfect. And she was lettin’ me know. If regret could do physical damage, I’d have been bleeding.

That being said…

We don’t always need to strive for perfection. Often, the simple act of showing up is all that’s needed.

You also can’t deny your inner voice of gloom its right to express. Because if you do (deny it, that is), it will only get louder and louder until it drowns out every other sound, including the voice of support and wisdom that’s trying to come through. When you do something to less than your own perception of “perfect standards”, let your critic have its say and then do this:

1.    Acknowledge what is.

Without the big story of negative self-talk and criticism, get down to the facts.
In my case, those are:

  • I was nervous, and as a result, a little too serious.
  • It wasn’t my best display of skills.
  • All of that said, it was my first TV appearance and it wasn’t perfect.
  • It’s not even a fraction as bad as Miss Critic is making it out to be; it never is.
  • I showed up when I could just as easily have made some lame excuse and copped out…I have to put that down again…I SHOWED UP!
  • I know to relax for the next interview – and there will be plenty!

2.    Pick out the learnings.

What can these facts teach you?
For me, those are:

  • Relax, lighten up and enjoy the experience! It’s not about the outcome.
  • You know your stuff so trust in yourself and find ways to deliver an impactful message.
  • Don’t look back – you can’t hit “Ctrl + Z” (or the equivalent for all you Mac users).
  • Celebrate the triumphs – there are always more than you initially think.
  • Laugh at the blunders – so you messed up a little. So what? We all do.
  • And SMILE, you’re on TV!

3.    Commit to applying what you’ve learnt.

For me, that means:

  • Getting back on the horse and doing more appearances.
  • Doing breathing and visualisation exercises before the next appearance.
  • Cutting me some slack.
  • Showing up again and again.

Bottom line, I did it. Perfect or not, I showed up. And really speaking, perfection can be an elusive bugger that holds us back and stops us from showing up at all for fear of not getting it right the first time. And when we don’t show up, we don’t create, and when we don’t create, we stay stuck. Because we keep talking in circles about getting it absolutely, positively, exactly 100% perfect before we get out there, before we put ourselves out there. But really, what measure do we have for “perfect” if we haven’t created anything to measure it against? And if perfection is what we’re striving for, then we’ll never take that step; we’ll never just screw it, and do it.

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