I was in the middle of conducting Hamilton in Puerto Rico in January 2019, with Lin-Manuel Miranda playing the leading role, when I decided I needed to quit my job as Music Director on the show. My repetitive strain injury was around 8 months old at the time, and the pain had gotten so bad whilst playing the show (the Music Director also plays the piano parts in addition to conducting), I knew that it was time to walk away.
It was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make, and it wasn’t easy to adjust afterwards; I was heart-broken to leave a show I loved, and found it difficult to deal with the fact that I’d worked my butt off for 25 years to get to the top of my game, only to now being told that my injury was likely serious enough to prevent me from performing at that level ever again.
I’ve always loved life for its ability to present opportunity when the time is right (!), and a few months after leaving Hamilton, I had the chance to speak to the producers at TEDx in Santa Barbara. They were looking for guest speakers for their program later in the year, and they were interested in my experience on the show and whether that might be some kind of platform to speak about. Being a huge admirer of TED Talks, I was excited for the opportunity, and proposed using my management experience in performance to talk about the differences between the pursuit of perfection and excellence from a leadership standpoint. Whilst they were interested, it was clear that my idea wasn’t overly original, and so they encouraged me to dig deeper. In doing so, I realized that I had very strong views about perfectionism, particularly disagreeing with the premise that perfectionists should lower their expectations and standards to be able to live with their perfectionism. Further research provided a more solid foundation for a possible talk, and after a bit of back and forth, the producers agreed that I would speak in November, 2019.
I feel truly thankful that the organization at TEDx Santa Barbara saw something in me, and worked with me to uncover and explore my ideas surrounding perfectionism. It provided focus, at a really difficult time, and has inspired me to make this my new area of expertise, and to launch what I’m calling ‘the second phase’. Life is currently a mixture of physical recovery and mental exploration, and is now at the point where I’m launching a new and exciting career helping people understand their perfectionism - exciting!
Learn more about my work on Perfectionism HERE!