Yesterday I got an e-mail from the choir director at church, reminding us that the children’s choir would be performing, giving details about when kids needed to be there, and with a youtube link of the song being performed by another children’s choir (she’s so smart). I reminded my daughter that they were singing this morning and she said: “Mom, I’m not even CLOSE to ready!” I dutifully retrieved the e-mail, pulled up the youtube and sent her on her way to prepare. She emerged 20 minutes later, confidence restored, saying she thinks she even remembers all the words now.
I thought more about this interaction later and I just love it for a couple of reasons. First of all there was a lot of drama in her reaction, which I tried very hard not to find humor in. Secondly she said it just the way I would, hands out, horror face. And finally, the part that struck me later: the realistic goal.
When she talked about needing to prepare, she said she wasn’t CLOSE to ready. There was an inherent acknowledgement that perfection might not be possible, or even desirable. I can’t get there from here, but I’d like to be closer. So she went to work on it, in private, in a way that has worked before, using tools provided by her mentor, and emerged feeling confident enough that she could call it done and move on with the rest of her day. We had a movie to watch, after all. She didn’t keep practicing obsessively; she didn’t stay up half the night worrying about the fact that it might not be perfect. She worked until it was close enough to ready and then she released it. Needless to say, they were wonderful, a brave group of around 10 kids, singing in parts, surrounded by flowers.
So often we hang on to what we have to offer because it’s not ready; it could be better; it should be perfect. We torment ourselves; we hide our lights; nobody wins here, people. That project, performance, experiment, book, report, essay, song, painting, idea, business venture, recipe, dance, sermon, whatever it is you’ve got hidden may never, ever, ever meet your standards and you will make yourself feel bad every day that you notice that 1) it’s still not there and 2) you aren’t sharing it. What would happen if you just decided to get it close to ready? What would happen if you decided a B+ was good enough? What if you decided that you are good enough no matter how your big idea does?
Go ahead, take a few more minutes. In fact, decide exactly how many minutes that’s going to be. “I’m going to work on this for 45 more minutes and then it will be close enough for me to release.” How does it feel to think that? A little scary and exciting at the same time? A little scared and excited sounds better than disappointed in yourself and your work.
Let me get you started. It’s good enough. You are good enough. And both you AND your big secret project can be changed at any time. Let it out. Let us see you. Sing and know your song is close enough to ready for everyone to hear.