Let It Go: Smash That Perfectionism in You with Kathy Mela

In this week’s episode, we had a very meaningful conversation with Kathy Mela about recovering from perfectionism and becoming a great leader. It is absolutely easier said than done. Many have been struggling with this for years, running in circles, and preventing growth.

Perfectionism, according to Kathy, is striving for something that we know 100% in our subconscious that can never happen. Being a perfectionist heightens the wall around you. It gives you baggage. It stops your growth.

Tune in to this week’s episode and go deep on smashing that perfectionism within you, and learn more about proven strategies that bring people on top of the ladder.

Visit Kathy’s website: https://freegiftfromkathy.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kathy-mela-leadership-expert/

Clubhouse: https://www.clubhouse.com/@kathymela

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kathy.f.mela

Katie Brinkley 0:02

Hi friends. I’m Katie Brinkley, and you’re listening to Rocky Mountain marketing. This podcast is all about helping Colorado-based small business owners, entrepreneurs, realtors and professionals discover the strategies and systems that take their marketing to all new heights. Let’s dive into today’s episode. Welcome back to Rocky Mountain Marketing. Today, my guest is Kathy Mela, Kathy has uncovered the number one truth about leadership after working with hundreds of healthcare leaders over her 45 year career through brain science and mental fitness. She guides executives, professionals and entrepreneurs to greater clarity, confidence and courage, helping them identify the patterns that hold them back from being more purposeful, powerful, and a more brilliant leader. Kathy, thank you so much for joining me on the show today.

Kathy Mela 0:55

Oh, you’re very welcome. And thank you for having me. I’m excited to be here and to chat with you and your audience today.

Katie Brinkley 1:01

Well, and you and I have had the opportunity to get to know each other on different social audio platforms. And you and I are in a bunch of the same Facebook groups. So it’s great to have a face to face conversation with you so that we can really get to know each other a little bit better. And, you know, I know that we had a call before, you know, we hit record here. But when you and I talked, I saw that you were going to bring a ton of value to the Rocky Mountain marketing listeners. And I think that that’s one of the biggest problems that a lot of us have as entrepreneurs is we can kind of tend to be a little bit of a perfectionist. So that is what we are going to dive into today, we are going to talk about the health dangers, the perfection trap that kind of keeps us stuck as entrepreneurs. But before we dive into all of the perfectionism talk, let’s just get to know you a little bit more, because you’ve been doing this for over 45 years now.

Kathy Mela 1:57

Yes. So I guess I’ll say Who am I and yeah, I am a leadership coach and recovering perfectionist, I’d like to call myself a recovering perfectionist, because it’s a pattern that I’ve had for most of my life. And it doesn’t just automatically go away. I know we’d all like for these things to be like magic. And you know, the truth is it’s not. And so it’s something I do address most days, you know, watching my tendencies, my pattern to go to that perfectionist mindset, and then bringing it back to where I want to put my focus which is on making progress in my life. And being really clear what it is I want want to create what I want to do. So I do have a healthcare background, I was a nurse for 20 years, then went back to school, a nurse practitioner for 25 years and became a leader. I’ve always been a leader, I you know, even in school in high school, if I joined a club, I was a leader, I jumped into things, I guess it’s sort of an innate ability in me. And so I’ve always kind of gravitated towards those roles. And when I took a leadership position in, you know, my last position as a, as a practitioner, I really didn’t do it for a great reason. Oh, that’s a story for another day. And I really got, you know, started looking at that I started I got introduced to the personal and professional development and growth, you know, community and start taking courses and looking at me, and how I wanted to lead and you know, changed over time, some of the ways I was leading myself and my team. And so that’s a little bit about me, I love the power of our minds. I’ve always been fascinated with how our minds work and and that’s really you know, when we talk about a leadership coach, it’s all it all comes back to mindset. What are you thinking about? Where are you thoughts take you because I my tagline is to is my deal. And the T stands for thoughts become things. And our thoughts are powerful. And we don’t always acknowledge that we’re not always taught that we don’t always remember that, you know that what we think about we actually bring about so I that’s kind of a little bit about me, and why this I’m so passionate about leadership and focusing on leading ourselves learning to lead ourselves, as I say, often in a more powerful, brilliant, you know, magnificent, fun, joyful way. You know, you throw whatever word you want in there, it’s like learning to lead yourself is always the first step in learning to lead others in my humble opinion.

Katie Brinkley 4:14

Well, and you bring up a really good point there, Kathy, you know, what, one, the leadership thing I think that that is something that a lot of entrepreneurs have is that they do have that leadership quality, but how you can be a good leader, not everyone has had leadership training, or or maybe they weren’t really the one who always raised their hand saying, well, I’ll go ahead and do it. But they were following their passion and they were realizing that in the corporate world, or maybe some of the other things that they were doing was not fulfilling them. So they have started their own business. They are an entrepreneur, and being a leader, sometimes can be the hardest job. So before we get into the perfectionist talk, I just want to talk a little bit about being a good leader. What are some of the biggest mistakes that you see A lot of business owners making when they they need to be being a better leader as opposed to just being a business owner,

Kathy Mela 5:08

I think it’s first, for me leadership starts with getting clear who you are. And that’s whether you’re you know, whether you work for somebody, whether you work for, you know, an employee, whether you’re a leader in a company, or whether you’re an entrepreneur, and there is a little bit of a difference, you know, from that, because there’s a different mindset around whether you’re a leader for a company, and whether you’re leading yourself in your own business. And so if you shifted from a company to leadership, I feel like that brings with it another set of challenges, because you almost have to kind of undo some of those thought processes that you had around around some of the things that are important as an entrepreneur, like, you know, marketing and sales and those kinds of things, you know, oftentimes people aren’t necessarily doing those in a job. So I think for me, the first thing is to get clear, you know, you hear this a lot, you know, get clear on your why, and I really bring it down to even more than your why not just your why get clear on who you are. And, you know, I know I, you know, I say, when I usually start talking, this might get a little woowoo, you know, and in the healthcare arena, and in the business world, you know, we don’t always like to get into the what we call the woowoo thing. And yet behind the wall is a lot of science, it is important to really know who you are at your core, what are your strengths? What are your characteristics? What are you good at? What is it that you just do with grace and ease that flows for you know, for you, some people are great with numbers, some people are really creative. Some people like to design things. So it’s like really getting clear who you are first, then you can figure out what to do with that, you know, a lot of times we identify with a title, maybe it’s, maybe it’s your mom or your parent, or you know, your grandmother, or maybe it’s that you have some title, like a CEO, or you’re a manager of some company. So we get hung up on these titles. And we think that’s who we are. And that’s not who we are. Our purpose and and who you’re designing created to be is really, someone you’ve always been since probably before you were born, but certainly since the day you were born. And it’s what you do best. And it’s it’s your strength, it’s who you again, it’s who you are, it’s in your DNA. And so it’s really important to discover that what happens in life is that we get layered over with a lot of stuff, we get told who we’re supposed to be. And we think about who we supposed to be. And there’s a lot of judgment in our world. And we’re not really taught to be in tune with our inner being with who we are inside. And so we have to sometimes unlearn some of those other things so we can get that clarity. And that’s where I bring the clarity and get really clear on who you are. Because then when you were really clear about who you are, then you can align all the doing with that, you know, I live for a long time, living a life where I was not aligned with what I was doing. And it’s a totally different experience and feeling to truly be aligned with what you’re doing

Katie Brinkley 7:57

yet. So, on that, what if someone says I don’t know, if I’m aligned with what I’m doing? What would your advice to them be?

Kathy Mela 8:04

I would say, if you’re not sure, if you’re aligned with what you’re doing, then go back to square one that you have to get so clear on who you are. It goes, you know, again, we can use those purpose, the words purpose or mission, I say it’s who you’re designed and created to be who you really have been your whole life. Once you’re clear with that, then you can take the steps to align everything with that, then it’s like you have a it’s like, to me it’s like going I like to give analogy. So it’s like going for a hike without a compass, or a map. Where are you hiking to? What are you doing? What if you get lost? How are you going to get out? Like, you have to have a little bit of a direction. So having your compass is knowing who you are, then you have this direction. And then you can say somebody gives you an opportunity? Well, is that an alignment with what I want to do in life with who I am? Maybe Maybe not, you know if it is great go after it. If not, it I love to put them in, I have my absolute yeses. Things that are really the absolutes of your life that you can align, again, with your purpose with who you are. So that your you know your direction, it makes life so much easier. And because I was one of those people as a perfectionist, I thought that you know, if somebody invited me to something, want me to do something, if I said no, then I agonized over it if I said yes. And I agonized over it because my schedule was that I’m making my schedule crazy. So when you get that clarity, it makes it all so much easier. And then you let go of trying to be perfect and focus on what’s the progress you’re making in the direction you’re going rather than the direction everybody else is going.

Katie Brinkley 9:37

Well when I think that is definitely one of the hardest things when it’s hard to put on the blinders and not see what other people especially with social media, it’s hard not to see what other people are doing and not say well, why am I not getting that result? I had a post like that and they had 4000 likes and I had four why what are we doing different and that is one of the biggest things that I I’ve seen as a business owner, in social media, I had to put on my blinders focus in on my own journey. And that’s when things really started to change. Now, we talk about You talk a lot about perfectionism. So just give us your definition of what a perfectionist is.

Kathy Mela 10:18

Let’s see, what do I want to say today about perfection? I, for me, it’s about striving for something that’s, I don’t like to say impossible or unattainable. And yet it is, because perfection is something that it doesn’t happen. Okay? Yes, something may be perfect. And we use that word, I pay attention to the words a lot. And I’ll say, Oh, that’s perfect. Yes, in that moment, you know, the the email you wrote, or the creation you’re designing, or the program you’re designing, or the artwork you’re doing. In that moment, it may be perfect. And you might go back and look at it five minutes later and find this mistake. Or you may look at it five minutes later, or five hours later and say, Oh, I don’t really like that painting, after all. So in that moment, it may have looked perfect. So there is, you know, I think we can say something’s perfect, and yet, there’s flaws and everything. And in that perfectionism is getting something to one point that never changes. And if you really think about it, everything is always changing. Life is changing. Even the buildings that we in, then look like they’re perfect and solid, yet they’re not they’re always shifting and changing, the ground is shifting and changing. So I think there’s a lot of people that resist change and don’t like change, I get it, I was one of those, I used to say that I don’t like change, I don’t change, yet. That’s almost putting up like a wall. So I changed my language around that, you know, well, I embrace change. Now, I may not always like it, I embrace it. Because sometimes change happens that we don’t like in life, that’s true, it may not happen the way we want it to. And the more you can embrace it, you know, I look at it as I don’t know if this I didn’t really give a clear definition of perfectionism. But it’s this striving for something that we also know in our subconscious that is not really attainable. And then what happens with that constant striving for perfection is we begin to feel like failures, like we’re unworthy, like, we’re not enough. And that just snowballs into, you know, a big ball of Yuck, that then becomes these layers of stuff that we got to start to peel off later in life. So I don’t know if that’s a clear enough definition. But that’s kind of my roundabout definition.

Katie Brinkley 12:21

Well, and I think that one of the biggest things that many entrepreneurs have is needing to check all the boxes themselves. And I know, I was one of those people, I didn’t think like, well, there’s no way I could hire somebody, because there’s nothing that I could let go of, nobody can do this except for me. And I think that that is one of the biggest traps as an entrepreneur is letting go of certain things, letting go of certain tasks. And when you do that, that is when really your business flourishes and grows, because then you’re able to set aside the time for other aspects of your business.

Kathy Mela 12:56

I think it’s getting clear on what your strengths are. And I agree with you, because as a parent, you know, I can remember going back and doing things behind my kids because they didn’t do it. Right. They didn’t do it the way I wanted it. And that’s really a method of control wanting to control others. And if we really look at that, we don’t control others. We don’t even our kids, you know, we don’t control what they think same do. We don’t control the happenings in the world. Really, the only thing we have control over is what we think what I think that saying, Do I have control over that. And and you have control over what you think, say and do so being able to let go. But and I won’t say You know, I’d like to tell you it sounds like a really simple process. And for some people, it’s harder to let go of that control. And I was on a call with somebody earlier. And they were talking about how they go behind their kids when they do the dishes and do things or they’ve hired people to help them before and they really can’t see that because this person isn’t going to do it the way they want to. And it is an experience, you have to be willing to let go of some of that control. And I look at it as if I’m trying to control it. I’m not allowing someone who’s really good at what they do to flourish in their lane. Oh, when I started looking at it that way boy that because like technology and certain things, it’s not my lane. So what am I good at? Let me stay focused on what I’m good at. And let me get support in those areas that are not my strong students and let someone allow someone else to flourish and grow so that they can be they can make progress in their life. So I look at it as this community group of people that you bring you bring on a team but and you do want them to do some things with you. It’s letting go of the control. I don’t know if that isn’t making sense.

Katie Brinkley 14:39

It makes perfect sense and one of my past guests on Rocky Mountain marketing, he came on and you know we were talking about how he has grown his business here from being just him and one other guy to you know, they are they have offices located throughout the United States. And that was like we didn’t go to business school. You know how did you know how to do our stuff. And he said, Well, what I did, Katie was I hired people that were better than me. And that, to me, it was such a lightbulb moment. I was like, Wait a second, you did what? Like, why would you? You hire people that are better than me? Like, aren’t you the best? And it’s exactly what you said, Kathy, you find people to come in, that are really good at technology. And technology is not your strong suit, you find the people to come in and do that. Social media. If you are if you’re like, Hey, I just don’t get it. And I don’t want to get it. Hire people that understand it and can do it for you. And I think that that is one of the hardest things as an entrepreneur, letting go realizing, I don’t have all the answers, but I know I really like doing XYZ, I just need find someone to do a and I need to find someone to do an F, you know, I need somebody do all these other parts of the business that maybe aren’t bringing me the passion that X y&z do.

Kathy Mela 15:53

And that’s where some clarity comes in, because some of it is again, click really clear what you do well, maybe the things you use? Aren’t your favorite things? Or aren’t the things you do well, and then can you be willing to let someone else step into that. And really, like I said, flourish and grow and take that on, and that may take some discovery. And so you get clear, what’s the type of person you’re looking for? You know, for me, I know people, I really want heart centered people around me. So what is it, you know, maybe you have somebody that you want, that’s very detail oriented. So just getting that clarity. And sometimes we have to go through a few things, you know, to experience that. I always say sometimes to get the clarity, we have to take some action, because action definitely brings clarity and take the action to know what we don’t want so that we get really clear what we do want.

Katie Brinkley 16:40

Yes, yes. So we talked a little bit about what a perfectionist is, you know, kind of some things that get you stuck as an entrepreneur, but how can the perfectionism trap really kind of keep you in the same spot, just kind of, really, you’re, you’re doing good, but you’re not progressing to the next step. And it’s, it’s your perfectionism that’s holding you back. Yeah,

Kathy Mela 17:04

I’ve taken a long look at myself. And certainly, that’s why I call myself a recovering perfectionist. Really, the research shows that perfectionism can lead to actual decreased productivity, decreased efficiency, and then you start that cycle of not feeling great about yourself, and why because we get stuck in a cycle. So you know, and I’ll just give an example. Maybe I used to send emails in my, you know, when I was working as a leader in the health care arena, and I spent so much time on email Sundays, I was getting frustrated about I started doing some research around how to write better emails and let some of it go. You know, because I was striving for perfection, I was looking for people to see something there. You know, again, I was trying to be perfect in it. And it was holding me back. It really was. And I look back on a certain time in my career. And really, when the company decided that the position I was holding that they didn’t need any longer. And, you know, I took a step back and had to evaluate myself, was I a little upset? Yes. And I didn’t go into the victim mode, where I blamed them for everything, there was a few things that I realized we weren’t a fit. That’s really what I came away with, like, I started looking at what I was trying to achieve and what they were trying to achieve. And I’m like, we didn’t match. So that’s really why it happened. And so there’s an evaluation piece. And I feel like I got a little off topic there. But you know, I’m telling you my story. And so I know that perfectionism can actually keep us stuck, because it keeps us often just striving for this one more thing to dot the i’s across the T to make it look perfect. Why? Why? It’s really about a fear, you know, are you fearful about judgment? Are you thinking someone who’s gonna judge you, like, it’s getting down to the root of why you get stuck in that, and I, I know some people that do research and, and I look, I’m not a big research person, but I do like to look at research and get that evidence of things. And yet, I know people that will, you know, maybe they’re gonna buy a car, maybe they’re gonna look at something and they’re gonna, you know, they want to, I don’t know, maybe the same, but they want to buy a new laptop, and they’re gonna research it and research it and research it and research it and research it. And three months later, they still haven’t bought a new laptop. It’s like, why you’re not taking any action. Sometimes you have to Yes, I’m not saying not to do research to do it, and then sometimes just make a decision. That’s what I find perfectionism a lot of times keeps us in an indecisive circle. So there’s, you know, there’s a lot of things around perfectionism that we think it’s a good thing. I thought it was a great thing for many years. And it’s really very detrimental on our ability to produce as well as our health.

Katie Brinkley 19:48

Absolutely. And we have similar stories. I mean, I was I was laid off from what I thought was my dream job and it was me sitting down and talking with my boss because we were sitting in her office she was just shocked. cuz I was that I was, you know, being like, oh, but you know, there’s people that didn’t even know who I was I was just a title that decided to eliminate the position. So she and I were sitting in our office and she said, you know, Katie, you’re so good at social media, I would love for this to just be your main job, just doing social media. And, you know, she and I still talk. And she said, she seen what I’ve done now over the past five years, and she’s like, Man, I am so proud of what you’re doing. I was like, well, it’s all because of you. And she’s like, you’ve given me too much credit here, Katie. I was like, Well, no, I really respected you. And I never thought about it that way. When I and looking back now, it’s like, well, yeah, of course, I was growing the station social media accounts, I was getting them up on Twitter, and I was doing Instagram forum, and they weren’t doing any of that. And it still was kind of a backburner sort of thing. It was my job in addition to like, 12 other tasks like it was in addition to so sometimes it takes that realization later, when you are like, man, but yeah, I wasn’t, I wasn’t the right fit. What I was trying to do was not the right fit for that company. And sometimes, it’s hard thinking about it that way. But everything happens for a reason. Now, if someone is listening to this episode, and they say, Man, Cathy, you’re speaking my language, I maybe I am a bit too much of a perfectionist, and I know even myself in going on video. I am such a perfectionist a lot of times, that’s why I don’t even do it. Because I’m like that I just look weird. Why was I making that face? Ooh, why was I doing that? And I’m being so critical of myself. And really no one else is going to notice. If someone’s a recovering perfectionist, neurotic, I need to take some steps start letting go of things. What was your biggest piece of advice for them

Kathy Mela 21:42

be? I update them. I’ll take the phrase just do it. It’s, you know, yes, plan, get your thing. So I’ll tell a story. So back probably about five years ago, I started doing I was told pretty much the same thing. Social media, get on live, do some lives. Okay, so I decided I was going to do a weekly video on Facebook, I’ve been thinking it was actually fairly popular. However, the first I go back and look at some of those, I laugh because it took me literally hours, I would type up a thing, I would then print it out, I would have it taped up all over my living room, I would set up the camera, you know, so by the time I went live, I don’t know how much time I had spent. And even when I went live, I was pretty much trying to read the what I’ve written. And it wasn’t coming off as authentic and real as I wanted it to. And at some point, I decided, again, a decision I made a decision, I’m going to go for it. Like, okay, if people the truth is not everybody’s gonna like me. That’s okay. Not everybody’s gonna like you. That’s okay. It billions of people on the planet, somebody is gonna like you, your message is gonna resonate with somebody. So I just decided I would sit get a topic, I would have a couple main points I wanted to make, and I would free flow. And when I started doing that, like, oh, I felt better. And and it resonated with people more because I was being real. So think about that, like, how are you? How are you showing up? You know, as an entrepreneur, how are you showing up with your team, with your clients, with your customers? Are you showing up as a real person, I do think that these last two years, has helped us get really clear about what it is we want. And people don’t want that fake stuff. They’re not going for that right now. And people want to see you, they want to know that you can identify with some of their their pain, some of what they’re struggling with. And so I would just encourage people to, you know, get some clarity around it and take action, you take some action i i have a four step process. And action is like the third step. You know, I want to get clear, I want to have awareness of what’s going on in my life. I want to get in alignment, and then I want to take action. Because without action, you stay stuck. You’re not doing anything.

Katie Brinkley 24:01

Exactly, exactly. And it’s just like, like I keep obviously going back to Instagram reels or tick tock probably because I work in social media. But that was one of the hardest things for me there. I mean, there’s a reason why I have a podcast and you know, I went into review and that television, it’s uncomfortable for me. And I think that once I realize exactly what you’re saying, Kathy, I’m not going to be for everybody. Some people are gonna say yeah, look at how awkward she is on video and other people are gonna be like, I resonate with that she’s still funny or whatever. And those are my people, you have to realize that not everyone is going to be for you and and you’re not going to be for everyone. So I think that just getting started stepping outside of your comfort zone is the only way that you’re really going to move forward and really progress with your business.

Kathy Mela 24:48

And I’m glad you said that about the comfort zone because I was sitting here thinking that you know, really everything that you want is on the other side of your comfort zone. You got it. That’s part of who we are designed and created to grow and learn and study. And I know there’s lots of people that aren’t doing that. And I encourage you to do something grow and learn in some areas stretch, you know, a lot of my friends and people think I’m a little crazy because I could be retired and not doing this. And it’s not me, I want to I want to give back I want to serve, I want to, you know, I have something to share. And so I everybody does, everybody matters. That’s another one of my you know, that’s my part of my, my tail. Thoughts become things and the ease, everybody matters, you matter and your message and your experiences in life. Somebody wants to hear about it. And, you know, however you decide to do that, whether it’s social media, I mean, again, find something, even if it’s just calling somebody once a day that needs an uplifting moment, you know, again, there’s a zillion things you can think about. So the third point is always action, you must get into action, take some kind of action, stretch and grow, and keep growing, stretching and growing your whole life. I don’t intend to sit back.

Katie Brinkley 25:58

What Kathy, thank you again, so much for coming on the show today. Where can we find out more about you and your business online?

Kathy Mela 26:04

I’m pretty much everywhere on Facebook, social media, Instagram, I’m on clubhouse, I do have a room every Thursday at 430 progress over perfection. I have a Facebook group, I’d love for you to join called progress over perfection leadership. And I’d also like to offer your viewers a free gift for me, it’s just go to www dot free gift from Kathy with a k.com. And it’s my roadmap on how to escape the perfection trap. And it has the four steps that I use every single day to walk through that. So that’s pretty much how you can connect with

Katie Brinkley 26:38

me. Awesome. What Kathy, thank you again, so much for coming on the show today.

Kathy Mela 26:43

You’re very welcome. I’ve enjoyed this. And I hope you your listeners enjoyed and get one tip of at least creating some awareness in your life of where you’re stuck so that you can get some clarity on how to move forward.

Katie Brinkley 26:55

Huge thank you to Kathy for coming on the show today and talking about being a perfectionist. As you can tell yours truly is a recovering perfectionist as well. But I think that that is something that a lot of us as entrepreneurs have in common. And one of the hardest things to do, as she said, is just letting go of things. And just doing it. So I completely agree. I have as you as I said during the show, I have a hard time showing up on video. But the second I started just saying wow, you know, sometimes people are just not going to care for me or, or really are going to care about what I do I hear on on reels or on Tik Tok, but my follow the ones that really follow me and ones that really connect with me, they’re gonna think I’m funny. And they’re going to resonate with what I’m sharing. I’m just going to do it. And once I got that into my mindset, things started changing for me dramatically just doing it. I think that delegation, it is hard. It’s hard to give up things because right no one can do the job as good as you can. But when I hired my assistant, everything for my business changed, because she was doing what she was best at. And I was doing what I was best at and I wasn’t spending stuff that took me an hour, two hours, she was able to get done in half the amount of time because that’s what she was good at. And when you find people that can help you that you can delegate these tasks out to that you can give up a little bit of your perfectionism to and let them be the perfectionist at what they’re best at. That’s when everything for your business can change. Thanks so much for listening to this episode of Rocky Mountain marketing. As always, I’d love to hear from you. You can visit my website at www.nextstepsocialcommunications.com. Connect with me on LinkedIn or check me out on Instagram. Let’s keep taking your marketing to new heights