Beyoncégate: Avoiding the Perils of Perfectionism

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 and get $200 off!