005: Perfectionism Is F*cking Up Your Videos
The podcast dedicated to giving you a no-bullshit look at what it takes to build relationships through video. This is for the scared, the overwhelmed, and the awkward as fuck, and all those who believe diy doesn't have to mean amateur but don't know where to start ...
Welcome to the Video Matters podcast.
In this episode ...
Let’s start with some serious shizzle you didn’t know you needed to hear: why perfectionism is fucking up your videos. Because if perfectionism is a thing with you, it's definitely a problem for your videos.
I know that sounds weird, because how can that make things worse?
Because perfectionism is a sneaky bitch and isn't actually about doing something really really well, it's about being afraid.
Perfectionism isn’t an internal standard of excellence you’re holding yourself to, it’s an external standard of excellence based on what you think other people will want to hold you to. You’re not struggling to create something amazing because it’ll make you happy, you’re struggling to create something perfect to make other people happy so they don’t tell you off.
Perfectionism is about being so afraid of what other people might think. Might! You don’t even know if they will! Sometimes you don’t even know who ‘they’ are! But you’re so afraid of what they might think that you either work yourself into the ground trying to meet an impossible standard, or - like me - you don’t do the thing at all.
I struggled with perfectionism for years. In fact, I still struggle with it. Coming from a professional television broadcasting background, I know the standards that video’s held to in that world and there’s no way I can make anything similar diying by myself. I’d need a full crew, a studio, equipment, hair, make-up, wardrobe, and ideally Joss Whedon scripting to meet the standards I’d love to hold myself to so that ex-colleagues won’t ever be able to laugh and point at me for what I do. Because that’s my fear, that’s what I think people will do. That and laugh about how I look, say I shouldn’t be in front of the camera because I’m not photogenic enough.
And do you know what? Neither of those two things are actually relevant, they have zero impact on my ability to create engaging content that - yes - may be DIYed, but certainly isn’t amateur.
Perfectionism isn’t about a standard of excellence, or bettering yourself, it’s a defence mechanism against shame and criticism.
It’s holding off embarrassment. Unfortunately, it’s also holding off connection, which is the thing we do want. Without connection, you're fucking up your videos, because that’s what they’re for.
I want you to think about video as the first impression someone has of you and your business, because it’s always going to be that for someone. And within that realm of first impressions, no one cares about you.
They don’t, they do not give a shit about you and who you are. What they care about, in that first impression, that first exposure to you and what you do, is what you can do for them. That’s it. What is the problem they’re having, and can you solve it for them? That’s all they’re after, that first time watching one of your videos, it’s not about you at all, it’s about them.
Let’s take this a step further. If this is the first podcast episode of mine you’re listening, you don’t care about me right now. You care about me helping you with perfectionism, that’s all you’re interested in. You’ll come to like me and know me and care about me as you consume more of my content, but that first episode you listen to, you don’t.
I hope you find that as hugely liberating as I did. Because it means there’s nothing you can do within that first impression, that’ll make someone like you more. Only your ability to help them can do that, and that isn’t by looking a certain way or being perfect, it’s by being useful and providing value. It means you can stop worrying about if your nose is too big, which is one of my things. Does this lighting make my nose look big. It becomes a non-issue, because nobody else cares.
And by the time people know you and like you and care about you, those things still don’t matter to them, because - more importantly - they trust you, and that’s worth so much more.
People don’t relate to perfect things, they relate to things that remind them of themselves. We’re all struggling to be seen and be heard, and we do that by looking for things we recognise from ourselves, because if we see it elsewhere then it must mean it’s okay, right? We all know, deep down, that we’re not perfect, so by trying to present a perfect front, you’re actually making it more difficult for people to connect with you. Yes they can learn from you, but they don’t feel a connection to you, that only comes with being human, being like them. A messy fuck up, who puts themselves out there anyway.
Video’s about building relationships, that’s why it’s so effective. You can see someone, hear them, learn their quirks and habits, really get to know someone. You get a taste of their personality, unfiltered by words on a screen. And if you’re so worried about what other people might say, you’re not going to be saying things that you should. Self-censoring isn’t going to help you, and it certainly it isn’t going to help build relationships. You can’t change the world by being exactly like everyone else, and maybe it’s not the world you want to change but you can’t effect any kind of change if you’re just doing what everyone else is. And business is all about creating change.
To make a difference you have to be different, and that’s very much not perfect. As Elizabeth Gilbert says, perfectionism is just fear in really good shoes.
When it comes to video, I think perfectionism tends to show up in a number of ways. Production value is one, people want their videos to look perfect. It can take the form of equipment, this is a really common one. People think they can’t make videos without the best equipment, the ‘proper’ equipment. And I’m putting that proper in quotation marks, because, really, what does that even mean? Your phone has the proper equipment built-in, equipment doesn’t have to be a barrier to entry any more. It can also be in how you look, which is a huge one, and - like I said, it’s one of the ways perfectionism shows up for me.
But here’s what I’ve figured out, and it comes back to that self-censoring thing. You do not have to look like everyone else who are valuable to other people in order to provide value. I know we’re built to want to fit in, but you can’t be a leader unless you’re willing to stand out. For me, in the video niche, that means I don’t have to have the perfect blow out, the perfect nails, or the perfect skin tight dress, if that isn’t who I am naturally. And I am very much not that person naturally, you may not be either. But it also means that if that is who you naturally are, that's not wrong or bad, you just need to look for other ways to stand out and be different. We all have something unique about us, we’re not carbon copies of everyone else.
Because I struggle with how I look, for a while there I got it in my head that maybe I had to look like everyone else successful in order to be successful, and that is so not true. I think the thing we’re most worried about, or hate the most about ourselves, is often the thing that makes us unique. Here’s the thing though, you do not need to change yourself to meet what you think other people’s standards will be, and that doesn't just go for video. Who you are is enough, and if it helps, if you need it? I give you permission to be yourself, whatever that looks like for you, because out there are people like you desperate for someone like them to stand up and show them the way.
Because what you have to say, it’s important. It is valuable, no one else can say it like you can. Who you are, your personality, and how you communicate, is what keeps your audience coming back to you, instead of someone else who does what you do. They came to you because they thought you could solve a problem for them, and when you did they kept coming back because they liked how you did it. Trying to change who you are, it fucks that up.
So, how do we combat perfectionism?
I think it’s important to recognise how easy a line it is to cross, from excellence into perfectionism. Usually perfectionism comes down to details, so if you’re getting stuck in the weeds try taking a step back and looking at the big picture. Marie Forleo says the way to fight perfectionism is to always stay in a growth mindset, and work towards progress instead of perfection. When you’re making progress you’re getting better, and it’s an internal standard that you’re growing.
You can still work towards excellence and not be a perfectionist, it doesn’t mean you’ll end up mediocre. You just have to let go of the fear of what other people think, because as I’ve been harping on and on throughout this episode, excellence and perfect are not the same thing. But you have to make the decision to change, and then identify what that change looks like.
I decided on minimum standards I wanted my videos to meet, because it meant that I could take action. If I spent my time trying to meet all the standards, I’d never do a thing, or I’d burnout trying. Maybe that’s you too, so identify what’s actually stopping you, and then figure out what you need to do to get past it. Sometimes, it’s just that I need a fringe trim, sometimes it’s that I need to give myself a stern talking to. Remembering why you’re doing this in the first place, that’s a big help.
And figure out whose opinions do matter, and why. Because if perfectionism is fear of what you think people will think, taking the time to decide who’s thoughts actually matter can really help here. I like Brené Brown’s suggestion on the Being Boss podcast, where she talks about writing those names on a 1” square piece of paper, and I’ll link to that episode below so you can go take a listen.
Because, and this is also important, opinions aren’t facts my friend. Just because someone thinks it, doesn’t make it true for you.
But until you figure out what is true for you, and put meaning behind it so you can remember it in the face of other people, it’s too easy to let other people’s opinions become your truth.
Brené recommends keeping that piece of paper in your wallet, so every time someone’s opinion (or potential opinion) becomes a barrier, you can take it out and see if their name is there. By becoming clear on who does matter, it gives you permission to ignore everyone else whose name isn’t on that tiny piece of paper. Which, when you think about it, is really kinda freeing. As Voltaire said, don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. It’s down to you to decide to move forward. What we think, we create. If perfectionism is just fear in a different name, you have the tools you need to overcome it you just have to start taking those steps, because what you have to share, it’s really fucking important and no one else can do it the way you can.
Don't let perfectionism fuck up your videos.
Tors is a television professional, who studied all aspects of television production before launching her career spanning almost a decade. She's worked with a BAFTA nominated production team, has her own entry on imdb.com, and has even walked the red carpet several (terrifying) times.
She's had chips thrown at her by David Tennant (it was an accident, he's got terrible aim), she's interviewed some amazing actresses, and she attended the cast and crew screening of Empire Strikes Back at the grand old age of four.
Now she lives in south Wales with a large dog and a small cat, where she uses the knowledge she gained in her television years and beyond, to help online biz owners step in front of the camera and connect with their audience.