When I was judging singers on BBC1’s award-winning format television programme, All Together Now, I became well-known for looking for a kind of ‘perfection’ in the brave talented contestants that I was in the privileged position to be passing verdict on.
Though I was always honest and, I believe, fair in my approach to the task I had been given by Endemol Shine, the snappy sound bites that the viewer at home is privy to are only a tiny fraction of my approach to working with creatives, and the final edit of the programme has always been rather at odds with the work I do – and have done for twenty years now – as a Mentor, Facilitator and Teacher (check out my workshops and 1-2-1s here).
The other thing that was limiting about my experience on the programme was that we judging panel had not had the benefit of seeing any of the singers progress, change, grow or overcome challenges. We were simply presented with a ‘finished’ article and asked which of them was worth £50,000 in prize money. Rather a daft thing to do, in retrospect. Because when it comes to growing as an artist, the only competition should be with yourself; one the day before, the week before, the month before – you get the idea. An artist who spends any time at all comparing themselves to their peers and lamenting what they’ve achieved and the output of work they’ve delivered, is an artist that is not spending that time growing and improving.
So, the show, for me was a bit of a poison chalice. On the one hand, it exposed me to millions of people who didn’t know me before, but on the other it gave a very limited view of what I do and how I approach working with creatives, as these Testimonials from my students will hopefully illustrate.
I’m still an artist myself. I still create. I want to be better than yesterday, and I have high standards for myself. I also still have a heck of a lot to learn. As a mentor, I am hard to impress, I want my students to be the best that they can be. I want their audiences to not be short-changed. I want us to both be proud of the creative growth. Sadly, a shiny-floor TV show is not the platform on which to adequately demonstrate this.
Perfection is stagnation.
Imagine yourself on the blocks at the start of a running track. Look to your left. Who’s there? Look to your right. Who’s there? Look all the way down the line. Who are you competing with?