Surgeon performing surgery

It’s not brain surgery

With rest, I regain my perspective.

I had a big lead-up to taking some time off. Then that turned out to be a little more stressful than we had planned. But I got to spend some dedicated time with the people I love the most, where I didn’t have to check emails. Bliss.

I beat myself up for failing to complete a task and having to hand it over. There might even be an entire blog post in that itself. Just as I’d tell anyone else that it’s ok to ask for help, I had to ask for help. When I set the bar high for being a person who will do what she has said she will do – personal circumstances meant I didn’t. The result – it got taken over and handled, because I am supported.

I do set a high standard for myself, and so do the people I work with. We’re juggling deadlines, events, travel & family and every time we stand on stage we want our presentation to be the best it can be. We want our demos to shine. We want our storytelling to resonate.

And it feels like “done is better than perfect” is a cop-out.

With rest, the world shifts slightly back into alignment for me. I’ve returned with the mantra of “It’s not brain surgery.” That’s not a nod to the less complex nature of technology presentations versus years of medical training. It’s an acknowledgement of the pressure we put on ourselves for the perfect outcome.

There are people in the world with some pretty important jobs. I am not one of them. I make PowerPoint slides. I do not hold in my hands you loved one’s complex central computer that is vital to their survival.

If my PowerPoint deck is not perfect or my demo fails or I lose my place and screw up my presentation, nobody will die.

Sometimes I have to remind myself of that. I have to lift off the self-imposed weight of my own high standards. That doesn’t quite mean I’m willing to let my quality slip. But it does mean I’m ok with whatever the outcome is. Because nobody will die.

The truth is, my audience has no idea what to expect anyway. They have no awareness of any differential between my ultimate version of this presentation and what gets delivered on the day. The more you speak in public, the more you realise your inner monologue can be “well I stuffed up that and those two sections could have been better” and some people in the audience will think it’s the best thing they’ve ever seen. On the flip side, you can walk off stage thinking it’s the best presentation you’ve ever given and you’ll get some negative feedback in the comments because somebody didn’t like something. That’s how it rolls.

So, forge onwards, keep doing your thing when it comes to your work but stop with all the self-imposed pressure of perfection. Last time I checked, death by PowerPoint isn’t actually a thing.




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