Episode 22 – Embrace Imperfection (-:
Updated: Sep 13
Are you a perfectionist?
I always have been and it is NO fun!
If you are, you know the ridiculous standards we hold ourselves to.
In this Episode we’ll look at the concept of embracing our imperfetions the way we embrace those of our idols or the people we love.
When we look at our loved ones or our idols we include their imperfection as part of their charm or perfection!
Even I need to listen to this one again…haha
The Inner Singer Podcast
Episode 22 – Transcripts
Embrace Imperfection (-:
You’re listening to episode number 22.
Welcome to the Inner Singer Podcast, providing tools and techniques to strengthen your inner singer, your beliefs, your confidence, your mindset. And now, your host for the Inner Singer Podcast, Mike Goodrich.
Well, hey there! This is Mike Goodrich. Thanks for listening to the Inner Singer Podcast, episode number 22. Here we are in 22 weeks and counting.
Well, the last couple of weeks, we’ve answered questions. And both those questions sort of inspired this topic this week. If you’ve listened to the previous two (and it doesn’t matter if you haven’t), if you have, then I’ll think you’ll see how this relates.
What I’d like to chat with you about today is the idea that I have struggled with for a long, long time in many areas of my life because you know what they say, “The way you do anything is the way you do everything.” so, I have always approached everything with this kind of an attitude from singing to teaching to parenting to being a husband to driving, anything. It doesn’t matter what I do. I approach it from this aspect and this mindset. And it’s not really ever served me. So, I’m hinting around at it a little.
Before I say what it is, I’ll give you some examples. We see people in the Olympics. They get these amazing scores. We see athletes and they do these amazing things. We hold ourselves to such amazingly high standards whether it’s somebody winning a bunch of Grammys or a bunch of Tonys or gold medals. It doesn’t really matter what it is. But all of sudden, the bar is raised higher and higher. And we find ourselves (at least I found myself) feeling like the only way to make anything of myself in this world was to be perfect.
So, that’s what I’d like to chat a little bit about, the idea of perfection and perfectionism. Can anybody relate to that? Give me a virtual yes if you can relate to this idea of wanting to be perfect – the perfect singer, hit the perfect note, have the perfect range, sing the perfect phrase, find the perfect song, write the perfect song, perform in a perfect role, everything. All cylinders firing all the time.
Like in Olympics, Nadia Comaneci, perfect 10, 10, 10, 10. In baseball, perfect game, no run scored, no walks, no hits. As much as you can see, “Oh, it was just perfect! Oh, it was just perfect!”
Quite frankly, a perfect game in baseball is the most boring game in the world to watch. It’s packed with stress for everybody once it gets into the later innings and people actually realizing, “This guy is pitching a perfect game.” All the other team wants to do is get a hit or get on base in some way. The team of the person, the pitcher that’s pitching the perfect game is trying desperately not to mention that he’s pitching a perfect game because of a superstition that, “If I mention it, he’s going to mess it up and it’s going to be my fault.” You never mention that, “Hey, you’re downing a perfect game here, man. You’ve got a perfect going here, dude.”
So, it’s all this tension, all this fear, no hits on other team, the most boring game to watch except you get to be one of the few who says, “Oh, I saw a perfect game! Woo-hoo!” I would much rather see an imperfect game with a lot of hits, couple of errors, lots of runs scored, a couple of guys cross the plate, lots of action. That’s a lot more fun than some ridiculous idea of a perfect game.
And quite frankly, from a singing standpoint, I would rather see a performance with heart, with people just wildly having a great time and having fun. I don’t care if there are mistakes, I don’t care what happens. I want excitement. I never want perfection.
When I go to a show, the most boring thing in the world is perfection. “Oh, yeah! They were really great! They hit all the notes. Perfect vibrato! Perfect this, perfect that.” “Well, did you feel anything?” “No, not really. It’s kind of boring.”
Life is not perfect. I want to see somebody alive on stage. But unfortunately, I picked up the idea that I needed to be perfect because the people that I was listening to and idolizing, in all their imperfections, were perfect to me.
Let me repeat that. I actually never mentioned that before, but that really makes a lot of sense to me. The people that I was idolizing and listening to and putting on a pedestal, with all their imperfections, these people were perfect to me.
I could name them. I could name them one by one, the greatest in the world, how if you listen to some live performances and even some studio recordings, you can pick out a flaw here, a flaw there if you really want to nitpick. But who wants to? I certainly don’t. And yet I was looking at all these people completely overlooking all of their imperfections and then adapting this idea of wanting to be perfect to myself and allowing no imperfections whatsoever.
“Oh, I was a little pitchy on that note. That vibrato wasn’t perfect. That high note didn’t ring like I wanted. Oh, man! I didn’t hold it as long as I wanted to hold it. Gee! I have a little phlegm on that note. Oh, gosh! I kind of missed that. I can’t hear the ‘t’ in that word,” whatever, just anything you want. Perfect, perfect myself all over the place.
Now, we know that we’re talking about singing. But like I said, “The way you do anything is generally the way you do everything.” So, I carry that over everything. Parenting, “Oh, man! I can’t believe I didn’t say that right. I can’t believe I said that… I’m terrible. I’m the worst parent ever… Oh, why did I read that book? That was a stupidest book. I should’ve read that book.” The list goes completely on.
“Why didn’t I eat that? That was the wrong to eat. I shouldn’t have eaten that.”
“Why did I take that way on the way to the studio? I knew I should have gone that other way. There’s so much traffic this way. I knew I should’ve gone the other way.”
Come on, really? Just perfect, perfect. I got to be the perfect driver. I got to take the perfect directions. I got to make the perfect meal. I got to be the perfect parent. I got to sing the perfect song.
I know I’m overdoing this a little bit, but can anybody identify with that, this idea of perfection?
And in the last two podcasts, answering those two questions, the one where the gal was afraid. She was fine when she was doing dialogue on stage in a show, but when it came to the singing, she was afraid because she started thinking about her voice. Why? Because we think we need to be perfect.
And with the young fellow who had the fear that somebody was going to ask him to sing if he wasn’t warmed up, I used to have the same fear and I shared it in detail in the last podcast. Why? Because he was afraid and I was afraid that I had to be perfect. There’s no allowance for error, none.
The funny thing is the first time I saw – I was a big fan, I am a big fan of The Beatles. I love Beatles. The first time I saw Beatle Mania (I was a kid. Actually, I was more than a kid, but I was younger, very younger), the thing that I love about Beatle Mania – in case you don’t know. Beatle Mania were four guys that they got (I don’t know if it’s on Broadway or anything, it may not have been at that time), they were touring around the US. It was four guys that kind of look like John, Paul, George and Ringo and played and sang Beatle songs just like the Beatles.
I mean, these guys really figured it out. They really got down to figuring it out. They sound like them, they look like them. And the thing that I loved about the Beatle Mania is that – if you listen to some Beatle music (I can’t think of anything specific right now, but I did know back then. This was going to back to something like 30 years ago. So, I definitely knew back then), there are some imperfections in some of the Beatle recordings. Rather than fixing them and cleaning them up, the guys in Beatle Mania, they play the imperfection. So, it was like just like listening to record. It was like seeing the Beatles.
And I thought that was the coolest thing in the world because what does that make these imperfections? It makes them not imperfect. It really makes them the perfect way to do the song.
If we’re going to talk about perfection, let’s include the imperfections in our definition of perfection. I prefer to get rid of the word perfection altogether. But if we’re going to have it, if we’re going to have the word perfection, let’s include in that concept our imperfections like we do with our idols. Let’s give ourselves the same latitude. Let’s give ourselves the same love. Let’s say, “Okay. I’m now looking at this singer that their voice cracks once in a while. I know that their voice isn’t perfect, but wow! Whatever I like, I really like.”
I mean, you listen to these guys. I don’t want to name names, but there are so many singers that we love, whether they’re rock singers or musical theatre or pop or country or whatever they are, even opera singers quite frankly, there are so many singers that we love that if we really nitpick like crazy, we could find these imperfections. But we accept them as a perfect part of the package.
So, if we’re doing that for these other people, doesn’t it stand to reason that we should be doing it for ourselves, that we should include our imperfections as part of our perfect being?
When we’re singing, if we have a little imperfection here, rather than say, “Oh, no! I got to get that. I got to do that over again. It’s terrible! It was awful. That was not perfect,” how about, “You know what? That’s perfect. That’s perfect in that particular rendition. That’s just how it had to go.”
I remember when I was singing a song, when I was recording a song one day with a guy that was really cool, that I like, I was listening back to something, I said, “Oh, I really want to do that again,” he goes, “Mike, it’s great!” I said, “No, it’s not.” He says, “Mike, it’s music. It’s not supposed to be perfect. It’s music. It’s the heart in it, that’s it!”
And I know having sat in on enough sessions with producers that an artist will oftentimes say, “Oh, no, no, no. I got to go back. I want to do that again” and the producer will say, “Are you kidding?” The artist will say, “No. I’ve got a better one in me” and the producer will say, “I don’t know. That really nailed it. That had everything. That had the heart.” “No but I can sing it better,” “Dude, who cares?! Who cares if you can sing it better? I don’t think you‘re going to grab that again. I don’t think you’re going to get that heart, that energy, that passion, that’s soul. Sure, take another pass at it if you want, but I think we got it.” “No, but I think I can sing it better.”
The artist is married to the fact, “No, I sang it. I could sing better than that.” Yeah, yeah. But can you feel better than that? You’ve got the feeling, you’ve got the passion, you’ve got everything in there as the package.
I mean, if I was going to name names (which I could easily do) I could rattle off three, four, five, six names right now of people that if they allowed themselves could get in the way and say, “Oh, man! I could sing that better. I’ve got a better note than that. Can I do that again?” I’m thinking, “Man, thank goodness they either didn’t do that or their producer said, ‘No. No, no, no. We got it. That’s the one. That’s the one going out there because that’s the one that has all of you in there. Maybe you can sing it better. Maybe you can sing a more perfect note, but that’s the performance right there. That’s the one we got.’”
So, this whole idea of perfection is very limiting. It’s very conditional and it really is binding. It holds us in a tremendous amount of bondage to something that is really a figment of our imagination because look at the people that you like and look at their imperfections and look how you embrace their imperfections and do the same thing with yourself.
Let’s go back for baseball for a second. I used to play a lot of ball when I was a kid. I love baseball. And we’re talking about the perfect game. We’re talking about, “Oh, you got to pitch a perfect game. Nobody gets any hits. Nobody scores any runs,” all these wonderful things that you have to do to make the most boring game ever.
But what about a hitter? What makes a good hitter? I don’t know how many of you like baseball and how many of you watch baseball. I know I have a lot different countries on here, so forgive me. But let me just say, in baseball, when the batter goes up to hit the ball, do you know that an All-Star, a guy who makes the All-Stars or maybe a Hall of Famer will go down to the Baseball Hall of Fame, you what their average usually is? You know how many hits they get after being at bat 10 times? Three, three out of ten.
You can’t get much further away from perfect hitting only 3 out of 10, right? But that’s called batting 300. Batting 300 is in the major leagues in baseball, it’s considered quite a feat.
So, you got to think of that. And that doesn’t count being hit by a pitcher walking. That means you go up 10 times. And out of those 10 times, you hit the ball, you got a single, a double or a triple or a home run, you hit the ball and nobody gets you out and it’s not an error. So, you actually get what’s called a hit, three times. You only have to do that 3 times out of 10 to be considered a fabulous player.
I know that realistically, we really can’t take that into our singing except in our attitude. We can adapt of, “Man! Okay, if I’m batting 300 here, I’m doing pretty well. I don’t have to hit 10 out of 10.” And yet, that’s what we do as singers. We feel like, “Oh, my god! I have to hit 10 out of 10. My pitch has to be perfect. My vibrato has to be perfect. My mix has to be perfect. My high note has to be perfect. My breathing has to be perfect. Everything has to be perfect. And I have to remember the words and I have to remember the melody. Oh, my gosh! I have to do this in front of somebody with my eyes open. Good heavens! How am I going to do all these stuff?”
Well, what if we just bat 300? What if we just do our best? We have some fun. There are a lot of people probably out there having amazing careers that vocally are only batting 300. I mean, seriously.
I am a voice teacher. I am a technique guy for the last 25 years. I can listen to somebody – and I don’t do this, I’m just saying I can do this. I can listen to somebody and nitpick the heck out of their voice. Now, I don’t do this. Why? It’s not fair and it’s not fun. And who wants to do that? It’s silly.
I’ll often time go to shows and I’m the guy having the best time. I’ll go to an amateur opera or an amateur musical theatre thing or something and I’m just enjoying the heck out of it. Somebody will come up to me and say, “Well, that singer is a little pitchy, huh?” I’ll say, “I really hadn’t notice.” And I’m really being sincere. I mean, I don’t listen for that at all. When I go, I’m going and I’m having fun and I’m enjoying myself. I’m taking in the experience.
Now, if somebody is just up there and falling off the stage and singing flat all night, yes, that’s a little hard to miss. But I’m talking about the general nitpicking that somebody will sit in the audience and say, “Okay! Wow! They were a little flat on that. It sounds a little pitchy, that. Man, I’ve heard that done better. They don’t have a big voice”or whatever number of criteria that we put on these poor folks up there.
And usually, the only reason we are doing this is because we do it to ourselves. And that’s really inner singer. That’s really inner singer. If we’re looking and judging somebody really, really harshly, we probably judge ourselves really, really harshly. If we expect somebody else to be perfect, we probably expect ourselves to be perfect.
So, let’s look at this idea of perfection and see if we can re-frame it to include all of our imperfections. Unless we can just take the word out of our vocabulary completely – which is not that easy, but certainly we can shift it and reframe it and look at all those people we love and how we accept their imperfections as perfect. And then, hold the mirror up to ourselves and say, “Wow! Okay! I’m going to accept these imperfections as perfect, as a perfect part of the package.”
And have fun. It always gets back to having fun. My gosh! When I watch these kids, my wife and I teach in this home schooling group, they just have fun. Nobody’s perfect, nobody tries to, nobody cares. They’re there, they close their eyes and singing with their hearts. Oh, man! I’m sure in their minds, they’re phenomenal. They’re just having the best time ever. And that’s how it should be.
We definitely mean it. I know we’re adults. I know singing is a serious business. No, it’s not. Let’s have fun. Let’s just have fun, okay? Let’s drop this whole idea of perfection and have fun.
I know I’m preaching to the choir, but just as I’m talking to myself. Every single one of these podcasts is for me too, for me. I am talking to myself. I’m not just talking to all you folks out there that are listening to this podcast. I am talking to myself as well.
I’m not saying, “Oh, I have these all together. Listen to me. I’m sitting on a mountaintop.” No, no, no. That’s a bunch of nonsense. I want to keep this clean. I was going to swewar, but I won’t swear. No, that’s nonsense. I’m talking to myself.
And when I say, “Let’s take the word perfect out of our vocabulary, let’s include our imperfections,” I’m talking to me. I’m talking to me. I’m talking to me, the guy who looks in the mirror who still thinks, “Oh, wow! I do have a big nose. I know why Seth told me to get a nose job years ago.” Seriously, really, I’m being fun right now, but it’s true. Guys, I don’t have the perfect nose. Well, who cares?
I have a student of mine the other day told me, “Dude, I’m so glad you didn’t fix your nose.” I would never have thought of that.
So anyway, if we’re going to include our own imperfections as part of the perfect package, then let’s move on and have some fun with this game.
Bye for now. Look forward to seeing you next week. Thanks for listening. Bye!
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