The following is an excerpt from Chapter 7, Take Your Cue, from my book, Claim the Stage: A Woman’s Guide to Speaking Up, Standing Out, and Taking Leadership, which is THIS far from being published. Stay tuned for more about my book launch and release date!
Preparation builds confidence. But overpreparation due to the need to be perfect can kill your confidence because it presumes a lack of readiness or worth that can only be conquered by doing, or being, something that is unattainable.
The pitfall of perfection is one that women of all ages and career levels risk teetering into. And it’s why, when asked how a lack of confidence shows up for them, 60 percent of my survey respondents replied: “I tend to wait to speak until I feel completely sure of what I want to say.” Which very well might mean they speak up too late, or not at all.
Perfectionism and overpreparation can keep women from realizing their potential. That’s why it’s essential for women to understand the difference between striving toward excellence and needing to be perfect at all costs. Striving toward excellence can help them gain mastery in a skill and prepare them to perform at their peak; it can also leave room for disappointing outcomes and a healthy openness toward trying, failing, and trying again. Needing to be perfect, however, can spin women into procrastination, keep them in a heightened state of anxiety, increase their tendency to second-guess themselves, and stop them from responding to their cue to claim the stage. That’s why it’s so important to stay healthily self-aware around a tendency to push toward perfection, and to set and honor healthy preparation limits.
“Been There, Done That,” Says The Recovering Perfectionist
I learned about maintaining reasonable preparation limits the first time I assisted my producer, Doug Messenger, in mixing the recorded tracks to my first album, I Will Fly. It became quickly apparent to me that Doug and I could, if we chose, spend a never-ending amount of time tweaking and fixing each song, insisting on making them “perfect.” Doug, who shares my inclination to strive toward excellence, and who had spent countless more hours than I producing, mixing, and completing music tracks in his many years in the business, had this to say about the process: “We just have to do our best to come up with a song mix that feels as good as we can get it, and then let it go. If we don’t, we’ll drive ourselves crazy trying to make it perfect, and never finish this album.” He was, of course, right, because, as the saying goes, “perfect is the enemy of done.” Taking that approach and holding each other accountable to stay on the healthy side of the preparation line allowed us to finish and release not only that album, but two more. And, in retrospect, when I listen to the songs on the albums we produced, I am more than satisfied with how they came out, even though I know Doug and I could have continued to tweak them endlessly in the studio. I would much rather have finished and released my albums to the world than spent my life getting ready to get ready to finish them.
In order for you to take your cue to claim the stage and reveal your gifts, your perspective, and your big idea to others, you need to stop preparing when it’s time to stop preparing. Put another way, stop getting ready to get ready. When you get your cue, don’t think, just do. Because you can’t shine in the spotlight if you’re hiding in the wings.
Excerpted from Claim the Stage! A Woman’s Guide to Speaking Up, Standing Out, and Taking Leadership. Copyright IndieBooks International, 2001, All Rights Reserved.