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Beyoncégate: Avoiding the Perils of Perfectionism

Why Beyoncé should use her Super Bowl half-time performance to answer to no one but herself

(Image: File)

(Image: File)

For my daughter’s sixth birthday, I took her to see Beyoncé live at Madison Square Garden. It cost a car note, but came with a priceless guarantee: She would never forget that night and neither would I.

Fast forward a dozen years. My “little” girl is a college freshman and Beyoncé is a wife with a little girl of her own. Unchanged, though, is the fact that my daughter and I remain huge fans of this woman who continues to be a great role model. What sets her apart? Beyoncé is enormously talented, but she constantly takes risks and strives to grow. She’s beautiful, but her reputation is built upon excellence and a ferocious work ethic, as well as the warmth and respect she shows others. She’s rich (and then some, given her reported $40 million in personal earnings last year) but she seems to understand that her real wealth lies in the sanctity of her family, not her fame. Her demonstrated values have enabled her to stay above the fray that’s derailed many of her peers.

So it has pained me to watch what’s occurred in the wake of last week’s Inauguration. The so-called Beyontroversy diminishes the enormous significance of that day, and it strives to diminish her as well. The fact that she has yet to issue a statement about it leads me to speculate that the star is reeling, unaccustomed as she is to negative press. But the proximity of her scheduled Super Bowl appearance makes me wonder if she will respond there by pulling off one of the most incredible live performances of all time.

That would be one way to silence her critics, and I have no doubt she could. What I question is if she should.

Beyoncé should have performed live at President Obama’s inaugural. The other artists did, she surely could have, and ceremony organizers should have insisted upon it; it’s just that kind of party. But there are no do-overs for life’s big moments and, given her amazing track record (no pun intended), Beyoncé has nothing to prove. The Super Bowl is a very different animal. Its super-hyped half-time performances are often tracked, and for good reason. It came to light last week that Whitney Houston’s “Star-Spangled Banner” – the Super Bowl showstopper against which all others are now judged – was performed with a background track. Why would we hold Beyoncé to a higher standard? More importantly, why would she?

She’s a perfectionist, that’s why. And perfectionists are harder on themselves than anyone. I know, because I’m a perfectionist too. But the lessons of seven Women of Power Summits and a few wise friends have me finally embracing the fact that none of us is perfect, least of all me. I understand too that no matter how brilliant, hard working, or accomplished you are, there will always be some who doubt you – and talk about it. That minority of haters can never shape your story unless you allow it. The challenge is to keep going and doing your best on your terms, in spite of them. When you err (and you will) own it, learn from it, and – here’s the hardest part – let it go.

On Sunday, when the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers do battle, I’ll be rooting for Beyoncé, hoping that the only critic her performance strives to please is herself.

Join me and hundreds of other powerful women, including Xerox Corp. CEO Ursula Burns, Radio One Founder Kathy Hughes and ABC’s Scandal inspiration Judy Smith, at the 2013 Women of Power Summit, February 27-March 2, 2013, at the Waldorf Astoria in Orlando, Florida. Enter the code DGTWPS when you register at http://www.blackenterprise.com/events/women-of-power-summit/ and get $200 off!

ACROSS THE WEB
  • Peggy Duncan

    You’ve described her beautifully, Carolyn. I totally agree. She strives for the absolute very best in all she does and keeps her personal business out of the media. She’s the best!

    • Caroline Clarke

      Thanks Peggy and the others who weighed in. The point I was really trying to make is bigger than Beyonce. It’s about the price too often paid for perfectionism. We all blow it sometimes by making a mistake, a poor decision, or failing miserably. So what? Move on. Don’t shape the rest of your life, or even your next move, around it. Beyonce sang the Star Spangled Banner live for the press today at Super Bowl Media Day. That response says she felt she had something to prove; she didn’t. It says she felt she owed them -or us – a do-over; she didn’t. It says she hasn’t let it go; she must. I hope now she has. And I hope the rest of us who may be too hard on ourselves (or those around us) learn from this.

    • Caroline Clarke

      Thanks Peggy and the others who weighed in. The point I was really trying to make is bigger than Beyonce. It’s about the price too often paid for perfectionism. We all blow it sometimes by making a mistake, a poor decision, or failing miserably. So what? Move on. Don’t shape the rest of your life, or even your next move, around it. Beyonce sang the Star Spangled Banner live for the press today at Super Bowl Media Day. That response says she felt she had something to prove; she didn’t. It says she felt she owed them -or us – a do-over; she didn’t. It says she hasn’t let it go; she must. I hope now she has. And I hope the rest of us who may be too hard on ourselves (or those around us) learn from this.

    • Caroline Clarke

      Thanks Peggy and the others who weighed in. The point I was really trying to make is bigger than Beyonce. It’s about the price too often paid for perfectionism. We all blow it sometimes by making a mistake, a poor decision, or failing miserably. So what? Move on. Don’t shape the rest of your life, or even your next move, around it. Beyonce sang the Star Spangled Banner live for the press today at Super Bowl Media Day. That response says she felt she had something to prove; she didn’t. It says she felt she owed them -or us – a do-over; she didn’t. It says she hasn’t let it go; she must. I hope now she has. And I hope the rest of us who may be too hard on ourselves (or those around us) learn from this.

    • Caroline Clarke

      Thanks Peggy and the others who weighed in. The point I was really trying to make is bigger than Beyonce. It’s about the price too often paid for perfectionism. We all blow it sometimes by making a mistake, a poor decision, or failing miserably. So what? Move on. Don’t shape the rest of your life, or even your next move, around it. Beyonce sang the Star Spangled Banner live for the press today at Super Bowl Media Day. That response says she felt she had something to prove; she didn’t. It says she felt she owed them -or us – a do-over; she didn’t. It says she hasn’t let it go; she must. I hope now she has. And I hope the rest of us who may be too hard on ourselves (or those around us) learn from this.

    • Caroline Clarke

      Thanks Peggy and the others who weighed in. The point I was really trying to make is bigger than Beyonce. It’s about the price too often paid for perfectionism. We all blow it sometimes by making a mistake, a poor decision, or failing miserably. So what? Move on. Don’t shape the rest of your life, or even your next move, around it. Beyonce sang the Star Spangled Banner live for the press today at Super Bowl Media Day. That response says she felt she had something to prove; she didn’t. It says she felt she owed them -or us – a do-over; she didn’t. It says she hasn’t let it go; she must. I hope now she has. And I hope the rest of us who may be too hard on ourselves (or those around us) learn from this.

    • Caroline Clarke

      Thanks Peggy and the others who weighed in. The point I was really trying to make is bigger than Beyonce. It’s about the price too often paid for perfectionism. We all blow it sometimes by making a mistake, a poor decision, or failing miserably. So what? Move on. Don’t shape the rest of your life, or even your next move, around it. Beyonce sang the Star Spangled Banner live for the press today at Super Bowl Media Day. That response says she felt she had something to prove; she didn’t. It says she felt she owed them -or us – a do-over; she didn’t. It says she hasn’t let it go; she must. I hope now she has. And I hope the rest of us who may be too hard on ourselves (or those around us) learn from this.

    • Caroline Clarke

      Thanks Peggy and the others who weighed in. The point I was really trying to make is bigger than Beyonce. It’s about the price too often paid for perfectionism. We all blow it sometimes by making a mistake, a poor decision, or failing miserably. So what? Move on. Don’t shape the rest of your life, or even your next move, around it. Beyonce sang the Star Spangled Banner live for the press today at Super Bowl Media Day. That response says she felt she had something to prove; she didn’t. It says she felt she owed them -or us – a do-over; she didn’t. It says she hasn’t let it go; she must. I hope now she has. And I hope the rest of us who may be too hard on ourselves (or those around us) learn from this.

    • Caroline Clarke

      Thanks Peggy and the others who weighed in. The point I was really trying to make is bigger than Beyonce. It’s about the price too often paid for perfectionism. We all blow it sometimes by making a mistake, a poor decision, or failing miserably. So what? Move on. Don’t shape the rest of your life, or even your next move, around it. Beyonce sang the Star Spangled Banner live for the press today at Super Bowl Media Day. That response says she felt she had something to prove; she didn’t. It says she felt she owed them -or us – a do-over; she didn’t. It says she hasn’t let it go; she must. I hope now she has. And I hope the rest of us who may be too hard on ourselves (or those around us) learn from this.

    • Caroline Clarke

      Thanks Peggy and the others who weighed in. The point I was really trying to make is bigger than Beyonce. It’s about the price too often paid for perfectionism. We all blow it sometimes by making a mistake, a poor decision, or failing miserably. So what? Move on. Don’t shape the rest of your life, or even your next move, around it. Beyonce sang the Star Spangled Banner live for the press today at Super Bowl Media Day. That response says she felt she had something to prove; she didn’t. It says she felt she owed them -or us – a do-over; she didn’t. It says she hasn’t let it go; she must. I hope now she has. And I hope the rest of us who may be too hard on ourselves (or those around us) learn from this.

  • http://twitter.com/AlfredEdmondJr Alfred Edmond Jr

    Had Beyonce sung the National Anthem without a track, I suspect that the “Beyontroversy” would then have been how her performance fell so far short of Whitney Houston’s now legendary rendition. Our expectations, as consumers of media and entertainment, passed ridiculous a long time ago; we’re so used to air-brushed, photo-shopped, cosmetically enhanced, and perfect lip-synching to flawlessly remixed tracks that we don’t appreciate real (including Kelly Clarkson’s inaugural performance, which people didn’t exactly rave over initially) anymore. In the meantime, be PERFECT Beyonce–but watch out for our hypocrisy when we find out what it takes to achieve that perfection. Performers, including both Clarkson and Knowles, can’t win. But here’s the inconvenient truth, everybody: You can have real. Or you can have perfect. But you can’t have both at the same time. Get over it.

  • http://twitter.com/annnoire Ann Noire

    Why are people taking this so personally (fans) and sensationally (media)? Beyonce isn’t held to a higher stand when it comes to this recent controversy. It comes with the territory. Christina Aguilera was dragged through the mud for singing live and forgetting the words. And not all critics are haters. I was a “stan” from 1998 to 2004, and the biggest set up for criticism is a perfectly contrived image. If you want this story to be let go by the media, let go of having to prove or defend it. After today’s press conference, I see fans nor Beyonce is letting that go.

    • http://twitter.com/AlfredEdmondJr Alfred Edmond Jr

      I am not a Beyonce fan. I own none of her music, nor I have ever been to any of her concerts. But there is a huge difference between forgetting the words to a song (for which the singer is near totally to be held accountable), and taking steps to account for an environment totally beyond the control of the singer, with multiple venues to deliver the best performance experience possible for audiences both live and listening on TV and other media. Aguilera deserved to be taken task for forgetting the words, which would have been just as big a fail had she been singing to a track. The treatment of Beyonce has NOT been fair, but in fact, unreasonable.

  • TT

    I think it’s more a case of narcissism. The whole issue is that her desire to be “perfect” and ego trumped that momentous occasion. She was singing allegiance to her Country and paying respect and honor to the President…why fake that! She was chosen because they know that she can sing. I still don’t get the magnitude of the controversy, but I do get the point! I also think the underlying message is that folks are tired of her this “perfect image” that she tries to portray. I hope she really gets that message. She is human like the rest of us..not a robot! She has great work ethic, and is beautiful, and talented…but human! I believe she needs to take a break from the limelight, focus on her kid, and give us all (and herself) a much needed, overdue break!

    • http://twitter.com/AlfredEdmondJr Alfred Edmond Jr

      You are totally off base. ALL performers are expected to deliver flawless live performances, not just Beyonce, especially for such media spectacles as Super Bowls and Presidential Inaugurations. People expect to be blown away by the singing of the National Anthem–period; there is a high price to be paid for anything less than perfection. This is not about narcissism; this is how this woman makes her living. Many a career has been damaged, if not outright destroyed, by flawed, but real, performances that fall short of the unrealistic expectations of an audience, amplified by critics on TV, radio, magazines, newspapers and now social media, and captured for instant replay on smartphones and YouTube for virtual eternity. In an environment with an impossible number of variables to control, it would have been a disservice to the President, those in attendance and watching and listening on TV around the world, and to our National Anthem itself, for Beyonce and the producers of the Inauguration to do anything less than whatever they had to do to honor the moment and our nation. If she synched to anything other than her own voice–her own performance–her critics would have a point. But she did not. So they don’t.

      • tt

        I think anyone could have lip synched. Part of the reason she was bestowed that honor was because it was generally assumed that she would actually sing it live. She was more than capable, she is a professional singer and gets paid big bucks to do so! The other 2 artists performed live with no issues! IJS. I could have stood up there and lip synched, and I can’t sing a lick! In other words…what was the point of selecting her out of of the countless other artists that could have given similar if not better live performances?

  • EgyptianLover23

    Alfred, what are you talking about? Last week you tweeted that she should have performed live and you said perfection wasn’t required which it wasn’t. Kelly Clarkson’s performance wasn’t perfect, but it was fine and LIVE and yeah they may have made fun of Christina Aguilera for forgetting the words but everyone respected her for putting herself out there. And I thought that other than forgetting the words,Aguilera was good. Beyonce didn’t even put herself out there. The other performers did it so what made her exempt? Does she think the rules don’t apply to her for some reason? All the reasons she gave were excuses. That’s why people lost some respect for her. Obviously she can sing so why didn’t she bless us and the president with a live performance? imperfections and all. I agree with the previous commenter. People are tired of this “perfect” image she keeps trying to shove down people’s throats. She needs to get over herself.

    • http://twitter.com/AlfredEdmondJr Alfred Edmond Jr

      You’re mistaken. I never tweeted that Beyonce should have performed live. I tweeted that you can have real, or perfect, but you can’t have both.

      • EgyptianLover23

        OK

  • Rashida

    Beyonce responded to the incident last night at the Super Bowl press conference. She sang the National Anthem live, responded to what happened and answered questions about the upcoming Super Bowl performance.