The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Training for perfection

Recently I had the opportunity to observe a candidate participating in a competition I was interested in. He had to pitch his project and needed to prepare himself as well as his short pitch.

He was putting himself under tremendous pressure to win. At the same time, he was super excited at this opportunity to win. In his case, excitement meant to share as much as he could of it. We heard multiple times how he had reached this stage of the competition. There were stories of setbacks that had to be overcome by motivating oneself not to regret anything. There were the stories of previous results that had only allowed him to come in second, they were the motivation to focus on winning. And there was a flow of questions as to how different parts of his speech would be seen or understood. These served the desire to win as much as the sensed necessity of perfection.

It meant that during his rehearsal, the elements that could visibly disturb perfection became most evident. One example was to speak very fast to stay within the time limits. And another was to stop speaking and wanting to start over again after using a wrong word.

It contributed to establishing even more pressure. It was as if any type of mistake had to be avoided.

While it makes sense to train the desired speech and have most of it well memorized, it is only one small part of the preparation.

Learning unfolds from experiencing how something didn’t work. This means that to learn it is useful to pay attention to all the things that may not work out perfectly. Some of these may be the circumstances within which the pitch takes place, and some of these may be the things one may not do well under stress. And paying attention here means to train using these conditions.

For example, if time is an issue having someone in the audience making the time remain visible can help. But it will only be of good help if one has trained oneself to deal with the available time. May it be by training to speak either faster or slower than usual. Or by training oneself to let go of some parts of the pitch when something goes wrong with the timing.

Perfection cannot be expected. Neither in the circumstances nor in one’s performance.

Assuming that one can train oneself to perfection is assuming that one has endless time to get there.



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