I’ve heard “I’m a perfectionist and will not do anything or show anyone my work until it’s perfect,” come from so many good, well meaning, and talented people. Doesn’t this sound like a noble statement?
Perfectionism has been defined as “a combination of excessively high personal standards and overly critical self-evaluations” (www.medicalnewstoday.com )
Even though perfectionists really want to be successful, they are always trying desperately to NOT make mistakes. They are extremely hard on themselves which causes stress, and stress can cause a myriad of mental and physical health problems.
No one likes making mistakes, but perfectionists REALLY don’t like making mistakes. According to experts the list of ailments that are attributed to perfectionism is long, but for the sake of understanding the severity of perfectionism, the two most common results of this way of thinking and being are anxiety and depression. (check out the 2:27 min. video on perfectionism at www.medicalnewstoday.com by searching the effects of perfectionism on mental and physical health).
What does this have to do with singing, EVERYTHING! If as a singer you are a perfectionist, you will not allow yourself to be vulnerable, which is one of the most important characteristics of a singer. If you are not willing to open up and allow people to see who you really are on stage by protecting yourself, the deep expression that you want to convey will not reach your audience in an impactful way. (For a deeper understanding of vulnerability, check out the Brené Brown book called “The Power of Vulnerability: Authenticity, Connection & Courage).
If while you are practicing you are only trying to fix your mistakes, and that is all you are trying to do, your focus will be on the wrong things and when you get on the stage, that is what you will be focused on, NOT making a mistake.
“Take chances, make mistakes. That‘s how you grow.”
-Mary Tyler Moore
Instead, if you’re working on a new breathing technique to develop your breathe control, allow yourself to breathe deeply without the raising up of your shoulders and or pushing out of your chest, simply expand your lungs like a balloon by expanding your torso. Focus on relaxing while you take those breaths in and out with as little to no sound. Not only your physical body must be relaxed while doing breathing (or any) exercises but also your mind (calm, at peace, serene, etc.).
Entertaining your audience, relaxing your body and mind, telling your story through song, utilizing your vocal technique as best you can at the time, feeling the emotional content of the song and interpreting it your way and allowing yourself to be seen (being vulnerable) should always be your goal. But NOT MAKING A MISTAKE should never be your goal as your focus will be in the wrong place and, ‘you will get what you focus on’. So, for all those singers who want to develop their voice and performance skills, just think about babies.
Babies are constantly working towards moving, rolling over, crawling, standing and then finally walking. Babies don’t think about how messy or silly they appear to be, they just KEEP ON GOING no matter what. We would not think of telling babies they are making mistakes because we know this is the natural process of learning, yet we do not give ourselves permission to do the same.
We as human beings learn from our and other peoples’ mistakes, period! This is how we learn. Be kind to yourself and start seeing making mistakes as another opportunity to develop, and never as loosing but always as learning. Adopt the attitude that you will not allow yourself to feel that you made such a huge mistake that you can never come back from, we ALL have fallen at some point, but those of us who get back up and try again, are the real heroes.
Mickey Rooney said “you always pass failure on your way to success.” Be encouraged and keep on singing!
The Confidence Booster