Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Donny Osmond on Having to be Perfect

In 1972, I was in love with Donny Osmond. I was a teenybopper but that is not why I want to talk about Donny here.

I watched him on Biography Channel when he revealed his social anxiety disorder and the panic attacks he suffered.

After a lost decade in the 80s, he won the part of Joseph in the London show of "Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat". The show became very successful with Donny in the lead role for six years. He had known how hard it was to restart his career after losing it and so developed the idea that he had to give a perfect performance every night because he was performing for standing room only audiences. He would beat himself up mentally if he made any mistakes as he told himself he had to be perfect. He did not want to lose his career again. He went in to therapy with medication. He was scared to go on stage, even though he was delighted that he had his career back.

He pinpoints the attitude of perfectionism to the early days when the Osmonds appeared on the Andy Williams Show and were known as the "one-take Osmonds". They had to live up to that reputation and Donny had to keep up with his brothers, even though he was only seven.

He recalled a negative press review after a concert in Nashville when he was 13. He thought it was a great show but the press slated him - a child. It really hurt.

One night before appearing as Joseph, he was literally shaking and said they should call for the understudy because he could not perform. His wife gave him some excellent advice,
"Why don't you do yourself a favour? Go out there and be average. Do an average job tonight for yourself and for the audience." Donny felt the weight had been taken off his shoulders. He gave the best performance ever because the pressure was gone and he had licence to be "average". He did not have to be perfect any more.

Finally, Donny said that adversity builds strength if you allow it. You let it be the foundation of your personality.

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