Perfectionism comes from an inner child that is seeking your attention. Learn to re-parent the part of you that feels unworthy of love unless you are perfect.
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 Rachel Kove.
Rachel Kove is the CEO and co-founder of Transformational Solutions — a Los Angeles-based, trauma-informed life coaching company that helps provide people with sustainable solutions to self-destructive habits and to ultimately find their true purpose. Rachel is also the co-author of “The Mountain Method,” an actionable workbook that helps readers identify true goals, set new ones, and become situated in a position where they are self-accountable and proud of their progress and aspirations.
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 in Los Angeles. I grew up in a very lively, emotional, passionate, and expressive family. I grew up in the land of Hollywood and psychology. My dad is an actor, my mother is a therapist, and I have a twin brother. I grew up around very strong, confident parents who have always encouraged and supported me in following my dreams. My parents got divorced when I was nine years old, but always remained close friends. I realize that no family is perfect, that every family has their ups and downs. One thing I know for sure is that the Kove family is bonded in love and shows up no matter what.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
When I was eighteen years old, one of my greatest mentors, Misty Mcafee, said to me, “Rachel, get comfortable being uncomfortable.” That really stuck with me. I’ve found that I have never grown when I was comfortable; I grow when I am deeply uncomfortable. Your nervous system will try to keep you in the familiar and in the comfortable, because it’s scared of anything new and different. If something is unfamiliar, it can’t predict the harm. So, you have to learn how to not self-sabotage when things get uncomfortable and instead get skilled at using tools to get through the discomfort.
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 am an avid reader. I love books. I read mostly self-help and spiritual books, as well as autobiographies and memoirs. Last year during the year of covid, I read “Untamed.” This book made an impact on me like no other book did. It gave me permission to let parts of me exist that I felt subconsciously suppressed and tamed my whole life as a woman. I read this book during the beginning stages of covid. During this time, I was also in the beginning stages of my divorce. Glennon Doyle wrote in this masterpiece of a book, “You can do hard things.” It was a reminder that I don’t need to avoid hard things; I need to face them head on. My ex-husband and I are still close friends, co-parenting our toddler, and running a business together. Because I gave myself permission to do hard things, I get to live in my truth today. It doesn’t mean it was easy. It was painfully difficult and a continued grieving process that I experience, but the reward was finding myself. And that is the greatest gift.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Resilience. Perseverance. Bravery.
Before I started my business with my partner Seth, I was working for another coaching company. I loved my job. I wasn’t making a lot of money, but I made a salary that provided me with security. Shortly after I found out I was pregnant. I told the company that I was expecting a baby. A week later, I was taken off salary and was told that I would not be given any more clients to work with through the remainder of my pregnancy. I was in shock, terrified, and devastated as I had no job and a baby on the way. But I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, trusting the Universe would take care of me. Seth and I put our heads together, looked at our skills, saw what we were passionate about, and got the idea to start our life coaching company. Until we were able to create sufficient income, I drove for uber and walked dogs. We also, gratefully, had support from our families, which I will forever be thankful for. I never gave up. I kept going no matter what obstacles were in front of me. I was scared every step of the way but I used the fear to motivate and push me to take action. My bravery allows me to take risks. My perseverance pushes me to keep going when I want to give up. And my resilience allows me to always get back up when I face adversity, trauma, and pain.
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?
My definition of a perfectionist would be someone who has an underlying need to prove their worth by maintaining an image of “perfection.” Perfectionism is a self-defense mechanism to avoid one’s feelings of unworthiness.
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?
I love this question and this is absolutely true! Perfectionism is, in my opinion, a self-defense mechanism, a survival trait. Children turn into adult perfectionists as a way to control and manage unprocessed emotional pain. This helped you survive your childhood, and you should thank this part of you. It is a positive thing. But to make any change in your life, you have to see where a behavior is serving you and not enter in the toxic shame spiral. Perfectionists make incredible employers, employees, and can create an excellent work ethic. When I was writing our workbook “The Mountain Method,” the perfectionist in me edited it 4000 times. The perfectionist in me still thinks the book could be edited more! Perfectionism can create brilliant and magical finished products and masterpieces of art, but again, you may just want to explore where it could be giving you negative consequences and choose to change that.
What are the negative aspects of being a perfectionist? Can you give a story or example to explain what you mean?
I have worked with thousands of people. I have seen some type of perfectionism in almost everyone I have worked with. The negative side of perfectionism is the exhaustion from spending so much time avoiding mistakes for fear of disappointing others. Perfectionism can also create a lack of intimacy in relationships as it deflects people from being fully seen. People need to be seen, heard, and known, and if you are projecting an “image,” it will be immensely difficult to fully feel loved and understood. It’s this old story of, “If you really know me, you won’t love me.” I see this with so many people. I too have struggled with that.
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?
People get stuck because of the underlying unprocessed shame that subconsciously is driving the perfectionist’s behavior. Somewhere along the line in someone’s childhood or adolescence, they learned that to be loved and accepted they had to be perfect. They had to hide their feelings and show no emotion. They learned that they had to get perfect grades and be accepted to an ivy league school in order to win their parents approval or the acknowledgment from their peers. They are afraid if they are not perfect they will be rejected and disapproved of. These are some of the fears that drive perfectionism.
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.
1. Perfectionism comes from an inner child that is seeking your attention. Learn to re-parent the part of you that feels unworthy of love unless you are perfect.
2. You are allowed to make mistakes. You are worthy of love in all your imperfections.
3. Give yourself permission to be messy and show your emotions. Embrace, love, and express your feelings. Let yourself be seen.
4. Your worth does not need to be defined by this task, relationship, or image you are trying to maintain.
5. You are not responsible for how people think and feel about you.
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?
I would love to help people learn to express their emotions. To teach people that emotions are not bad. I want people to see that vulnerability is what heals disconnection and creates consciousness in the world. I want people to understand the effects of trauma, and understand the impact it has in childhood and in adult relationships.
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!
Glennon Doyle and Brené Brown are two women who inspire me. The work they do and the messages they carry are revolutionizing people’s consciousness. I respect them deeply and would love to have an oat milk cappuccino or lunch with them!
How can our readers follow you online?
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!