Many successful people are perfectionists. At the same time, they have the ability to say “Done is Better Than Perfect” and just complete and wrap up a project. What is the best way to overcome the stalling and procrastination that perfectionism causes? How does one overcome the fear of potential critique or the fear of not being successful? In this interview series, called How To Get Past Your Perfectionism And ‘Just Do It’, we are interviewing successful leaders who can share stories and lessons from their experience about “how to overcome the hesitation caused by perfectionism. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Carrie Leaf, MS, LMFT, Mindset Coach. Carrie is a masters level licensed marriage and family therapist and mindset coach. She specializes in behavior change, identifying and releasing negative thought processes, and increasing self-confidence to help you get unstuck & achieve success. She uses a holistic approach integrating mind, body, and spirit to serve as the foundation for personal growth. www.carrieleaf.com
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory? I was born and raised in small town Iowa. Both of my parents were educators. I completed my BA in Iowa as well before transferring out of state to complete my education. Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life? This is hard because there are so many that I like to fall back on but I think the quote phrase “be true to yourself” has circled around in my life and finally taken on a new meaning as I age. Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life? In younger years, that saying seemed obvious and did not hold much weight. With age, I have learned just how much we lose ourselves through our life experience and choices and that growth and healing is really just a journey back to our true selves. We are the experts of ourselves, and we intuitively know all of the answers that we seek. Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much? I would say that practicing and experiencing EMDR therapy has made the most impact on me in my personal and professional life. It has opened my eyes to our subconscious world and experiences and has taught me how to navigate that space. Becoming aware of my shadow self and all of the negative belief systems that I carry with me, and then learning how to clear that out and reprocess the belief system to a more positive and productive one has been life changing. You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Passion/purpose, drive (willingness to fail and delayed gratification), curiosity/zest for life. Can you please share a story or example for each?
Passion and purpose: My career is both my passion and purpose. It brings me joy, it gives me purpose, it fulfills me, and it teaches me. I remember in the middle of grad school I had a moment of panic. I was momentarily questioning my career path. I wasn’t sure if this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I drove home from Illinois to Iowa to explore, contemplate and discuss thoughts and feelings with my parents. I circled around other curriculum and options and every direction I went, it landed on my need and desire to work with and help other people because otherwise I just didn’t see the point. I didn’t see what could be more important than that in this life, to me anyway.
Drive: The drive and motivation to go after what I want, pushing through fear has been crucial. I have learned that in order to follow my drive and motivation that I have to be willing to redefine failure, be Ok with failure, and worry less about what other’s think. I’ve learned that following through and acting on my drive means failing many times over in order to learn and improve. With that comes patient and acceptance of delayed gratification. No one becomes an expert or a pro overnight. They dedicate a lot of time, energy, and effort into their art. You have to be willing to put in the hard work and wait for the pay out. Sometimes this means having faith that there is a pay out and accepting that it may not look as you originally envisioned.
Curiosity/Zest for life: Part of what keeps me going is being constantly curious. I love to learn, explore, understand and try new things. This sparks ideas and creativity and keeps me motivated and avoiding complete burn out. I like to mix things up. I like to live life and not just go through the motions. When things feel at a standstill, it means I must also learn to trust the process. All things in their own time is another phrase that I like to fall back on. What is meant to be does not need forced. To just be and let be allows for things to flow in and out of our lives as they are designed to. I like to remind myself to trust this process.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Let’s begin with a definition of terms so that each of us and our readers are on the same page. What exactly is a perfectionist? Can you explain? Perfectionism is a cluster of personality traits in which the individual feels that they need to be or appear to be perfect. They may even have beliefs that perfection is possible. Perfectionism is often used to cover up or hide from shame or judgment. The premise of this interview series is making the assumption that being a perfectionist is not a positive thing. But presumably, seeking perfection can’t be entirely bad. What are the positive aspects of being a perfectionist? Can you give a story or example to explain what you mean? What the general public sees as a positive aspect of being a perfectionist is that they often have a lot of drive, motivation, and energy. Perfectionists tend to appear to have it all together and they tend to be considered successful in their careers. What are the negative aspects of being a perfectionist? Can you give a story or example to explain what you mean? A negative aspect of being a perfectionist is how hard they tend to be on themselves. They create a great deal of pressure, stress, and worry to be perfect. They often report not being able to turn that off or stop what they are working on until it is “perfect.” It can cause they a great deal of stress and take away from their quality of life as well as other things in life that they enjoy because it can be time-consuming. Another negative aspect of being a perfectionist is that it could be covering up deeper issues of guilt, shame or negative belief systems. The person will then put all of their efforts into “proving themselves” through perfection instead of facing their mental health and wellbeing concerns. From your experience or perspective, what are some of the common reasons that cause a perfectionist to “get stuck” and not move forward? Can you explain? Often a perfectionist will hit a saturation point of where they have been working themselves so hard to the bone for so long that they just feel they are going to burn out and snap. They just can’t maintain it anymore. They are tired. They are burnt out. They feel like they’re going to have a breakdown. Here is the central question of our discussion. What are the five things a perfectionist needs to know to get past their perfectionism and “just do it?” Please share a story or example for each. I wish I could say that it is a simple of just five things for a perfectionist to change behaviorally, but that is simply not how it works. We as humans develop habits, neural networks, ways of being, behavioral patterns, and thinking patterns that get pretty ingrained into who we are and how we operate. This is what I refer to when I mean say we all have our own homeostasis that we operate from. For someone to change their homeostasis in 5 steps of “just doing it” is like me telling a 20 year cigarette smoker to smoke his last cigarette right now and never pick one up again after doing these 5 steps. What are the chances? Not likely. For someone to change their perfectionism ways, we have to dig deeper and hit from every angle. So if I am to break it into steps, I would start with
Get your mind/body/spirit in check/balance. Make sure you are eating, sleeping, and exercising well. Start working with a coach/therapist. Practice or explore your spirituality.
Identify the negative belief that is behind the perfectionism behavior. What is this individual telling themselves about themselves on a subconscious level?
Exploring where this negative belief originated.
Working with a therapist to re-wire the brain and reprocess the associations tied to these life experiences that contributed to the perfectionist behavior.
Have some fun in life. Find the balance between working hard on yourself and enjoying yourself.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? The movement that I am currently trying to build momentum around is wrapped into my upcoming book “Therapize Yourself: Choose to Heal and Find Your Truth.” In Therapize Yourself, I present a step-by-step program to bring out the best version of you by integrating the Mind, Body, and Spirit as well as identifying and clearing out negative belief systems. I want to encourage everyone to recognize that they are their own self-healers and also to motivate people to ask for help in healing and growing. We all need it. Every single one of us. Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens! Mark Groves (Createthelove on instagram), Dr. Nicole LePera (the.holistic.psychologist on instagram), Gabby Bernstein (Gabrielle Bernstein on instagram), Mark Manson. These are all people with helping and healing natures and platforms. I would love to meet them and feel their energy, learn from them and just soak up some of their good vibes! How can our readers follow you online? Yes! https://www.instagram.com/carrieleafcoaching/ https://www.facebook.com/carrie.leaf.39 www.carrieleaf.com Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!
An Interview With Tyler Gallagher