The date is March 22, 2012. I am in Los Angeles for a big event called "Conception Day." It is the celebration party for Barbara Marx Hubbard's New Book called Birth2012, and it's being broadcast to 22,000 people.
The show begins in a hour, but I am not mingling like everyone else. I am searching everywhere to find a hidden, sound-proof place where I can warm up my voice and practice the song I was asked to perform.
I end-up in the stairwell of the parking garage. It's stark and very dimly lit, but it's the only place I can find to be alone. So I begin doing my vocal warm-ups. I am just hoping that no-one walks into the stairwell and hears the strange sounds coming from my mouth. It's all clear for about 5 minutes, and then the workers begin going home at the end of the day. I feel the heat in my face as I attempt to explain myself and the strange sounds. Feeling ridiculous, I just stop and wait until the halls are empty again. I check my watch. It's now just a few minutes before the show is slated to begin. Where has the time gone?
As I sit in the audience, I try to stay calm, wanting to enjoy the various speakers and performances. But I can feel my whole body sweating. I ask myself why I ever agreed to sing this song that I had written so recently and performed only once before (in front of friends). Tonight is a whole different ball game, and I don't feel ready. I am wearing this white and gold outfit that I worry looks too New Agey. But it is too late to change my clothes. I must ignore the butterflies in my stomach. I've got to just go for it!
I am alone on the stage, with all 22,000 eyes on me. My heart is pounding out of my chest, and I am desperately listening to find the beat of the music. But the room is full of echoes, and it's hard to hear. I am a little off tempo. But I have to keep going. There's one of the world's best keyboard players, Freddy Ravel, in the audience. I pull him on stage to join me, and his presence is a calming balm. I try to relax and look natural, but my blood is still racing. I desperately want to do a good job, so people really enjoy themselves. And at the end of the song, people are standing up and dancing and clapping. There is a feeling of celebration in the air!
But my smile quickly fades few days later, when I am watching the video of the event. My to do summersaults as I listen and realize that I was actually off-pitch a few times. Was THIS what I broadcasted to this huge audience? With these off-pitch places? I feel a wave of nausea begin to move through my whole body. I feel ashamed, and I want to hide or disappear from the Earth.
Then I begin to realize how much my inner critic can color my experience. Though I had a truly celebratory night at the live event, when watching the video I was instead seeing through the harsh the eyes of judgment. Perhaps ten percent of the performance was negative, while 90% was good. But that 10% caused me to label the whole performance as "terrible" and "embarrassing." And while this inner critic can be helpful as it helps me to hone and refine my gifts, when it's in the driver's seat it will usually destroy the precious seedlings of my hopes and dreams.
I have to remind myself that it's NOT about being perfect. And it IS about each of us showing up fully and giving our soul gifts to the world. I did show up to the best of my ability, and that's enough. Some may be critical, but for most people, it's my humanity and willingness to play full out that makes a difference-not the perfection of my song. In fact, I have been told that my humanity and my imperfection actually create a space to step forward and give their gifts, even while they are still in progress. Who isn't?
So let's talk about you now. What sort of message is your own inner critic giving you these days? How much are you holding back your own precious gifts because you are worried that you aren't good enough? Or because you are scared of being judged? We've all been told that we are our own worst critics. And while we've heard it before, most of us (including me) have not been able to escape the critic's clutches. But that critic needs to move out from the driver's seat of our life. So here's the real question. Are you willing to be less than perfect in service of making a difference?
It's time to really own the importance of the contribution you can make (or are already making) to humanity and our planet. I invite you to imagine the possibilities if you step fully into the POWER of your blessing force. It's time to embrace being "perfectly imperfect." Even so, you can make a world of difference. I know it.