Achieving High Standards in Performing

Are you someone who sets themselves high standards? Some might call you a perfectionist, you may or may not agree.

The belief is that it's the high standards that have got you where you are, and that (although you don't think you've nailed it yet) if you let go of them, everything would be so much worse.

The truth is there's a secret to achieving high standards, and you won't believe it will work when you hear what it is. But it works better than any other system.

In this Episode I also invite you to join me live in London. To find out more about this event simply go here: Free Your Voice.

Plus if you haven't downloaded my free audio to get yourself in the best headspace the 5 minutes before you perform, you can get that here: Fearless in 5 Minutes

Podcast 4 Title Page

The Courageous Performer Podcast

Achieving High Standards in Performing

Read the episode transcript here:


Hi. So welcome to this episode. I'm Hattie Voelcker. From Find Your True Voice, and there's been a lot going on recently, especially with clients, and it really brought up this topic I'm going to talk about today, because there's a lie perfectionist tell themselves, and it's one that causes them so much pain and difficulty.



And don't let yourself off the hook if you're somebody who doesn't consider yourself a perfectionist, but just somebody with high standards, because there's a, there's this perversity in the sense that some people don't think that they can be perfectionists, because in order to be a perfectionist, surely you have to achieve perfection at some point. So they just think they have high standards. So include yourself in this camp, if that's you.



It's this belief that it's the high standard they have, that have gotten where they are today. It, and really, it's an excuse to carry on a pattern that causes you so much pain, and so many problems and so much tension in your life, and in your work, and you you don't need it. Because it's not actually the having high standards, the perfectionism that causes the major problem. The major problem is how you treat yourself because of those high standards you have, because of your aim and your desire for perfection. Leaving aside what perfection is and whether you can achieve it just for a moment, just looking at how you treat yourself, one in order to achieve those high standards and two, when you don't achieve them.



When was the last time you felt good enough? Because even if you hit that standard, my expect my experience is that one of two things happens. You either pick holes in your achievement. And although you might go Yeah, that was amazing. I've finally achieved perfection, everyone gave me good feedback, or I finally achieved a really good standard that I'm really proud of. But then, if you're anything like many of my clients and how I used to be, you'll then start saying things like, "Well, the positive feedback was just people being kind," or "They would say that," or "It was a circumstance" and you start to dissect what happened. "Well, then that happened, and they looked at me strangely at that point, and then I messed up the words there and I lost my place there or I was slightly flat here." And you notice all the things that in your head, make the performance not good enough.



So you either do that pick holes in your performance and the the feedback you've got, the positive feedback you've got, or you don't grade, the challenge itself. So it's this idea that you go, "Yeah, well, I only did well, because it wasn't actually that much of a challenge."



And this was certainly something I did, you know, I got a first class degree. Brilliant. Why am I not just proud of myself for the work that I put in and the achievement I achieved? And, and yet, it wasn't long after that, that I started saying, "Yeah, but it was a first in Philosophy. And I was very lucky with the questions that happened, you know, and Philosophy is one of the easiest subjects, you know, they don't challenge you very much." And I started to downgrade the challenge.



It was the same when I did well on my bar exam. "Well, it was because it was multiple choice questions for the majority of it and I'm very good at that, and that's just a strategy," or when I got pupilage, "Well, yeah, but it wasn't a provincial set." And then when they gave me tenancy and I actually became a barrister, a full fully fledged barrister, "Yeah, well, that was because I was from the area and they were nice, and they liked me," and that it was nothing to do with my skill, and everything I achieved I then downgraded and I don't know if you do the same.



So if you actually think, "I did a good job." If you allow yourself to do that or, or if there's some incontrovertible success you've had, then you downgrade the the challenge. If it's not incontrovertible, if you're anything like I was, you start to chip away at whether you were actually successful and that you're stuck in this kind of catch 22 scenario that you won't feel good enough until you hit the standard and then if you do hit the standard, you either pick it apart, or you say that standard wasn't a high standard anyway.



So it's like you're stuck in this situation where you're never going to feel good enough. And that creates so much tension. But more than that, during this whole process, you're not very kind to yourself. And you, you beat yourself up. And you beat yourself up, that your preparation isn't good enough, that you're procrastinating about things, that the performance wasn't good enough. And fundamentally, this is just all evidence that you're not good enough, essentially, confirming the fear that you have, not so secretly underneath, that, fundamentally, you're not good enough.



And there's part of you that if you have evidence that you're not good enough, then that might be a relief, because maybe you could stop having to try.



So there's all of these different things going on. One is you've got the standards that even if you do hit, you pick it apart. Two, you're horrible to yourself during the process, which creates all this tension, you're horrible to yourself in the preparation, you're horrible to yourself during the performance, and you're horrible to yourself afterwards. And all of this creates tension, psychological tension, emotional tension, physical tension, which makes it harder to do a good job. And so you get stuck in this situation where there's never any joy. And part of you would be really relieved if someone said, "Look, you don't have it. Just never bother singing in public, never bother having that aspiration to sing in a particular place. Never put yourself out there to do public speaking, maybe you just weren't designed to do public speaking, maybe that's just not for you." And wouldn't it be just nice if you have permission to stop?



There is another solution, and it's a secret that I guarantee you won't believe when I tell you it, but it will transform your life when you eventually do believe it. And it will not only change how you feel to make the whole thing less painful and less hurtful, and less tension inducing, but also will make you better at what you do.



It is that if you stop driving yourself, if you stop beating yourself up, you don't actually stop having high standards, you start properly achieving those high standards. In fact, there was a lovely lovely client of mine who once said, he came to me because he was a perfectionist, and he didn't really want to give up being a perfectionist because he liked what he thought it gave him, which was high standards. But he said to me, at the end of our time together, "I knew, Hattie, that letting go of perfectionism would help me enjoy life more, I just didn't believe or realise it would improve the quality of my work."



Now, I can vouch for this as well because since changing this in my life, my nerves have dramatically reduced. I worry far, far less. My output, my output, my output has increased phenomenally. And the quality of my performing and my singing, and so much of the work I do has improved beyond all measure. Not only that, but I actually work harder and achieve more than I ever have. And procrastination doesn't rule and ruin my life.



But to top it all off, I enjoy it all so much more. I'm no longer tied up in knots with tension and anxiety. I'm no longer talking to myself horribly., and yet I'm achieving these high standards, I'm actually achieving higher standards. So given I'm saying you're not going to believe this, and betting you don't. How on earth can you achieve this? Well, fundamentally, it's about making some perspective shifts, major fundamental perspective shifts, which are entirely possible. And that takes thinking and work.



But there are some smaller shifts you can make that will really help you to see how this works. If you haven't already, download the free audio and I'll put the link underneath this this podcast episode for you to download that if you haven't done it already.



Even better than that, why don't you join me live in London on the 15th of April, when I will show you way to prepare for your performances, that until you actually slay these demons and make them more fundamental perspective shifts can actually redirect your demons to help you. What we do is I take you through the process that redirects your attention in a way that will supercharge what you're doing so that you really connect with the audience. You reduce your nerves, you reduce your anxiety, and you hone your message, so you get it through. Whether this is a song, and it's about really connecting with the audience so they hear the song truly on a different level, or whether this is public speaking, and it's honing your message so your audience is captivated and stays listening to you and really takes the information away. This works for both because it's all about perspective shifts.



Fundamentally, what I'd like you to take away from this episode is one thing. Stopping being mean to yourself, doesn't mean lowering your standards. It actually means giving yourself space, headspace physical space to achieve them. And more than that, to enjoy the process. I'm Hattie Voelcker. From Find Your True Voice. Thank you for listening.