You Can’t Control the Outcome

Wouldn't it be great if you could control how every performance comes out? To be able to guarantee that you would do a good job and that your audience would think you are great.

You can't.

The fact that you can't guarantee the outcome is behind most performance anxiety.

In this episode I talk about this discomfort and a different way to approach it.

p.s. don't worry, there's still a lot you can do to influence the outcome and help increase the probability it will be good!

If you would like to transform your approach to performing so that you can feel confident (even without being able to guarantee the outcome!) then go to to find out how to work with me.

Podcast 19 Title

The Courageous Performer Podcast

You Can't Control the Outcome

Read the episode transcript here:


Hi, I'm Hattie Voelcker from Find Your True Voice, and today I want to talk to you about the idea that you can't control the outcome.



So much of performance anxiety and nervousness and overthinking come from this feeling that you are nervous about what will happen and you want to be able to control what happens, you want to be able to control the outcome. Because that way, you know that it's all worthwhile, you know that you're good enough, and it will all feel okay. The trouble is, this, not only won't work, but it creates a lot of the problem that you're struggling with anyway.



So this idea that you, if you can control the outcome, you won't feel nervous, is sort of a self fulfilling prophecy. Because the truth is, no matter how prepared you are, no matter how much you've practised this, how good you are, you can't control the outcome. You can definitely influence it, but you can't control it. And that brings about this sense of anxiety, and that's why so often the solution that we try and impose to get rid of our nervousness is to eliminate the possibility of mistakes, it brings in that perfectionism. Practice, practice, practice to eliminate the mistakes and not feel safe, unless you have. Unless and until you have eliminated all the mistakes. But we all know that you can't eliminate all mistakes because things go wrong, accidents happen. It's why we subconsciously bring tension into what we're doing. Vocal tension, emotional tension, intellectual tension, because we're seeking to control but there are all those negative aspects that come with that tension.



It's why we put off because we put off not because we're lazy or stupid or silly, or whatever it is, we put off because we hope we won't feel so vulnerable. Later, we hope we'll make changes that will make us feel stronger and more powerful, and more in control later on. But the trouble is, until you solve the underlying insecurity, it doesn't matter how much you procrastinate, you'll never get to that state. And it's why we use self criticism. It's why we beat ourselves up, we bully ourselves. Why you will, if you tune into your voice, hear exactly how mean you are to yourself.



The real solution to this problem is actually to get comfortable with not knowing to get comfortable with the idea that you can't control the outcome, you can influence it, you can improve the chances that it will be a good outcome, but you can't control it. And this is where it has a really interesting crossover with, with coaching and my other work that I do, and that's where in the coaching space, one of the things we talk about is this idea of getting being okay with the state of unknowing. Being okay with uncomfortable, because that's where actually, the interesting stuff comes out. That's where we discover more, that actually is where creativity lies at the edge of your skill zone at the edge of your competencies.



And if even if you're not a singer or an artistic performer and you're somebody who delivers speeches, creativity is a really important part of holding your audience's attention and captivating your audience. Creativity also gives you this responsive flexible space. And being comfortable with not knowing being comfortable with the idea that something unexpected may come out allows you to be both creative and responsive. It means that when something does come out, something unexpected comes out, you don't react and to try and take back control. To bring in tension again because it feels out of control. It means you can go at the thing that's come up with curiosity and explore it.



But all of this requires trust. And when I talk about trust, I mean trusting yourself trusting that you are able to deal with the unknown whatever the unknown may be because we don't know what the unknown is! And trusting that you are capable enough. And that's where the real work is, how do you trust yourself? And this is all about building a different relationship with yourself a different, more supportive, more trusting relationship.



Now I can hear your heads probably going, but how do I trust when I know I make mistakes? And this is, this is the conundrum, this is where the work is. Because when you don't trust yourself, you will be mean to yourself, you will bully yourself. And the more you bully yourself, the more you realise you can't trust yourself, you can't even trust yourself to be nice to yourself. But also the more you bully yourself, the more tension you get, the more mistakes you make. And you create this self fulfilling prophecy. And you go, "Well, look, I shouldn't trust myself, I keep making these mistakes."



And so often, we fear trust, and I've talked about this with hundreds of performance, we talk about not wanting to trust ourselves, because if we trust ourselves, and stop beating ourselves up, then we will. it will start slacking off, we'll start not giving it our all. But you'll find that trust is actually like giving a child responsibility. Yeah, you can't guarantee that they will rise to it. But more often than not, when you give a child responsibility, they rise to the challenge. And they do you proud and you're surprised by how well they do.



And behind all this is trying to understand the reason you don't trust yourself. And this is where starting to listen to how you talk to yourself, how you really talk to yourself, and we had the first session of the Fearless Performer Programme last week. And it's really interesting because whilst we talked about this idea of being nice and talking in a warm and supportive way, but at least 50, if not 75% of the room, said, 'Yes, but I'm different. I do need the boot up the behind, I do need someone keeping me going, I need to talk to myself aggressively. You don't understand. I'm different." And so many people think that they are the different one.



Now, next time with this group, we'll be digging into the reason this dynamic exists. The reason that you feel you're different the reason that you treat yourself this way. For you listening to this, what I'd like you to do is just to start to tune in to the way you talk to yourself. And then ask yourself, "Is it any wonder there's no trust?"



If you had somebody in your life, who talked to you the way you talk to yourself, you will be even more visible the impact. Now flip it the other way. Imagine you were talking the way you talk to yourself to a good friend or a child? What impact would it have on them? How would they respond to it? I bet it would damage their self esteem. I bet it would damage their confidence. I bet it would make them feel a bit crap about themselves and not trust themselves as much.



So the way you told yourself is behind this lack of trust. So start really listening to how you talk to yourself. And consider, just consider, letting go of the bully and seeing what happens when you talk to yourself nicely and trust yourself. I'm Hattie Voelcker from Find Your True Voice. Thank you for listening.