042: Are You a Perfectionist?





Ronda Nelson: Well, hello, my friend, and welcome to The Clinical Entrepreneur Podcast. This is your host, Ronda Nelson, and I’m so excited to be with you today. I’m going to talk about a topic that is a bit ouchie sometimes for those of us that struggle with it, and that is the topic of perfectionism. Are you a perfectionist? Would your spouse, your children, your friends, describe you as a perfectionist? I don’t think that my friends or my husband would say that I’m a perfectionist. They would say that I’m very driven, I’m very focused, but part of being driven and focused also comes with this need to do it right. I really want to do it right. I don’t want it to go out halfway or I don’t like things to have errors. I’m really picky about that. So, when it does happen, I get frustrated.


I think at some level, I am a bit of a perfectionist and I don’t think that that’s always a bad thing. However, there is the problem of perfectionism stopping us or preventing us from getting our message out in the world. We’re not able to serve our patients well, serve our families well, serve our employees, or our team well if we’re always hiding behind. And I use those words intentionally, but always hiding behind the guise of, “Well, it’s just not right yet and I don’t have all the details figured out and I need it to be just right. I don’t quite understand it and so I’m going to just wait on it.” 


Writing a book is another example. I would love to write a book because I’ve always wanted to. But you know why I don’t? Because I think, “Well, what if someone else writes a better book? Or what if I write it and then someone says I stole their material and that would never have been my intention. I guess I need to think of something brand new that no one’s ever thought of in order to write a book.” And all these things go around in my mind, but I know I have a message that could be really impactful. I hold myself back because I’m worried or afraid that I’m going to step on somebody’s toes or I’m not going to do it right or say it right, all that stuff rolls around in there. And that, my friend, is some version of perfectionism. What drives perfectionism? What’s behind it? Well, like it or not, in most cases, and I have yet in all the coaching that I’ve done with practitioners over the years, I have yet to find someone who has perfectionism that’s not rooted in some kind of fear. Fear comes from the belief that you’ve lost your power. And when we believe that we’ve lost our power, that results in some form of control. We see it in children all the time. If children are way too boxed in, caged in, disciplined, there are too many rules, too many guidelines to meet, they will exert their power by trying. They’ll either push back against the establishment so to speak or they start trying to control all the other things in their life. 


Perfectionism, in many cases, is just a different form of control. Because the fear makes us believe that we’ve lost some kind of power, that is what is going to slow us down, that it’s not going to allow us to have acceptance or feel valued or have self-worth. Because when we are always using perfectionism as a decoy, and say, “Well, it’s not perfect or it’s not done yet so I’m not going to do it.” That keeps me safe. It makes me feel safe. But if we’re not careful, that underlying fear that can be a driver for perfectionism. Truth be told, last week, I talked about starting this podcast in mid-year 2020. You wouldn’t think that mid-year 2020 would have been a good time to do anything, but I did it and I started a podcast. I was scared to death. And sometimes I still am nervous. Because I think, “Well, what if I say something wrong? Or what if I make a mistake? I don’t know, I just don’t do it right.” It still drives, it still kind of pecks at my brain. But you know what, I just do it anyway. I just get it out in the world. And if it’s not right, well, I’m human. And it’s the same for you. If perfectionism or that feeling of insecurity because you don’t know it all, it even can apply to being a clinician. Sometimes that perfectionism, “I want to have the perfect protocol for a patient. I want to know the perfectly right thing to do. I have to have everything just perfect or I’m not going to be able to help them.” That’s just rooted in a fear that you’re going to do it wrong. But guess what? If you help someone with their diet, you get them moving, you get them breathing better, and you give them some fatty acids and a few general support items, things that they’re missing in their diets like minerals or a good food-based multivitamin or some kind of an adaptogenic herb, will you have an impact on them? Yes. 


Our brains try and make things scary when they don’t feel safe. We know this. This is the fight or flight response. When it feels scary, our brain says, “Oh, don’t go there. You don’t want to go there because it can be dangerous out there. Because what if you don’t know enough? And what if you can’t help someone? And what if you don’t know enough about running a business? And what if you don’t know enough about writing a book? What if you don’t know enough about starting a podcast or creating a membership or starting a new service or introducing some new technique that you’re using?” If your brain perceives that as being scary, then it’s so easy to switch over into that, “Well, if it’s not perfect, I’m not going to do it.” But fear is just an emotion that our brain uses to try and keep us safe. And then we make up all the stories like, “Well, I don’t know enough, and what if someone does it better than me? I probably just need to go do some more training. That’s what I need to do. I need to go to copywriting school before I start writing emails and sending them to my patients.” We make up the stories that justify why we can’t get our message out, why it needs to be perfect, why we need to know everything, and fear is just the imagined bear that’s there that we imagine it’s there but it’s not there. It’s that big bear that’s going to chase us but there’s really nothing there. 


The trick is to catch yourself in the story. So, when I started having the story about starting a podcast, all the stories came up about, “Well, what if you make a mistake? And what if your mic doesn’t work? What if the sound quality isn’t like a super professional like Hollywood style?” Do you hear that? That’s my perfection coming through. I want to have the lights and the mic and the computer and the software and all those things were just excuses that we’re masking the fact that what I really wanted to do, I wasn’t allowing myself to do because I was afraid to fail. I was afraid to look bad in front of someone. I was afraid to make a mistake because I don’t want someone to judge me because, “Oh, Lord knows, I have to be perfect all the time.” Well, how ridiculous is that? Completely ridiculous. Once I realized that I was just making up stories to protect myself from this fear that was running in the background, once I was able to break free of that and I realized, “Oh, there’s really nothing to be afraid of because these are just stories of me trying to protect myself but what am I protecting myself from?” And further to that, who am I not going to be able to help? What patients am I not able to help? What business owners, practitioners, clinicians will I not be able to serve well because I’m too worried about myself? 


And all of a sudden, when I had that revelation, the tables literally turned. I realized that the perfectionism was because of who I was thinking of. Me. I was making it about me. And it’s not about me. And guess what, my friend, for you, it’s not about you either. Newsflash, it’s not. What it’s about is the people you serve. If the people that you serve need to hear what you know and you’re not sharing that with those people, then you’re making it about you and not them. Put yourself out there, take a risk, say what you want to say, and don’t be afraid of rejection. Don’t worry about being embarrassed because we’re all human. We all make mistakes and say weird things. And by nature, whether we like it or not, everybody’s a judger. Some people make it their mission in life to judge. Haters will be haters. Judgers will be judgers. And let me tell you since I started the podcast, I’ve had quite a few judgers and they send me emails and tell me so, and they tell me that I send too many emails or they tell me that I should do this or that with a podcast. Thank you for sharing. I really appreciate it and then I move on because it’s not about me. It’s about you. My job and my passion is to serve practitioners, to coach practitioners, to work with business owners that are practitioners that are trying to grow and scale their business so they can impact more people. When I keep my eyes on that, it doesn’t allow me to get stuck in that trap of telling stories to protect myself and making it about being perfect or that perfectionism, some version of that. 


In 2016, I’d always wanted to release a thyroid course. And I knew that I love the thyroid, I love working with thyroid patients, and Hashimoto’s. I love it. It fascinates me. And so, I thought, “I’m going to release an online course.” It was the first one I ever did. I was so afraid that I wasn’t going to get it right and I kept saying, “Well, I need to research more and I need to research more,” and I got stuck in the trap of I need to know more. I need to know more. But yet, I knew that what I had to share about working with patients who have thyroid conditions, I knew that what I had to share was going to have a dramatic impact on hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of practitioners and the patients they served. So, technically, tens of thousands of people at the end of the day that we’re going to have the benefit or the intended effect of these practitioners knowing about how to work with thyroid cases. And I kept making excuses because I was too scared. I wanted it to be perfect. I didn’t want to get it out there. And my business coach at the time, said to me, “What are you afraid of?” And I said, “I’m not afraid of anything. I just want to make sure that I have all the information.” And there goes my story. 


Finally, she just kept pushing on me and pushing on me very gently, very lovingly, but she would not take my answer. She just kept asking, “Well, why is that? Why? Why? Why?” Finally, the dam broke and I started to cry and I said, “Because I’m afraid of being wrong. I’m afraid that I’m going to do it wrong. I’m afraid that my message is going to be wrong. I’m afraid that it’s not going to impact,” and she said, “Do you know about the thyroid?” I said, “Yeah. I know a lot about it and I love working.” She said, “Do people that you want to touch, the practitioners that you want to serve, do they know as much as you know about the thyroid?” I said, “Well, most of them probably don’t because they’ve not spent the time that I have digging and researching. And it’s just a passion of mine. I really love it.” And she said, “Would someone else benefit from the information you have?” I said, “Yeah, I’m sure they would.” And she said, “So, when are you going to release your thyroid course?” I said, “Oh, well, when it’s done.” She said, “No. We’re going to do a date right now. When are you going to release it?” And I didn’t like that. But she backed me in a corner and she made me pick a date. And then you know what happened? At that point, I just gave up the story because I knew that she was holding me accountable and I knew I had to get it done. 


And guess what? I did it. I finished it. It wasn’t perfect the first go-round and it’s okay because I had so much feedback on that thyroid course. So many people said, “Oh, my gosh, I never knew about this part of the thyroid. I didn’t know that if a patient’s in a hot tub all the time that that’s going to impact the thyroid. I didn’t know about the role of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in the thyroid. I didn’t know about inositol and the thyroid.” They had no idea. It wasn’t perfect, but I just put it out there and it made a huge, huge impact. So, what is it that you have to share with your patients? What is that thing that you can contribute to them? What is the thing that you want to do that you’re afraid to do? Because you think that it needs to be perfect. Because remember, part of the human experience is being imperfect. We are all imperfect. You, me, all of us, it’s part of our journey of learning and growing. Every single one of us if we look back 10 years, 20 years, for me, I’m in my mid-50s. If I look back 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, oh my gosh, what I would tell my younger self? I could write a book about that, all the things not to do and all the things to do so that when you get to this age of your life, things would be different or you would be healthier or whatever. Because it’s a journey and we didn’t do it perfectly back then and we’re not going to do it perfectly now. 


Make the decision today to change your mental game. Change your mental game. Start thinking about how you can improve what it is that you are either doing in your practice from a place of service where you’re serving the other person. You’re not looking at making it about you. We all want to do that, don’t we? Everybody wants to make it about them. I want it to be about me. You want it to be about you. It’s just what we do because we have to survive and we want to be accepted and we want to have favor with our peers and our patients and our family. But when we make it about us, we can’t serve well. My challenge to you is to start thinking about changing the way that you perceive whatever you’re pushing against because you think it needs to be perfect. Take a step back and ask yourself, who is this really about? Who am I trying to protect? It’s probably going to be you just like it was me. I’m trying to protect myself. You’re trying to protect you but from what? Who loses? The person on the other end is the one that loses. Not you and me. Ask yourself the question and then start changing the way that you are interacting with your issue, whether it’s you want to create something or write something or you want to start a podcast, or you want to write a book, or you want to start something new, or you want to start doing more functional nutrition in your practice, I can help you with that. That’s what I do. 


I can help you with that but you’re going to be a lot further along in the process. If you decide that you want to coach with me, I would love that but you’re going to be so much further along in the process if you can get on top of what keeps you from moving forward. And sometimes you may not even need the help. You can get yourself three-quarters of the way there. Think about who are you making it about? What perfection excuse are you using to keep you from getting out there, being vulnerable, and just being yourself? Because once you figure that out, the whole world now becomes your canvas. And the people that you serve are going to get authentic you that’s showing up in a different way that says, “I am 100% committed to serving you to showing up big, and to giving you everything I can whether it’s perfect or not,” because it’s about them, and not about you. Thanks for joining me. I am so glad that you’re part of my community and part of The Clinical Entrepreneur tribe. I can’t wait to hear how you start shifting and changing who you’re being and what you’re doing in your practice by changing the narrative in your brain and just going and just taking the risk. Just go do it, my friend. It is so worth it. 




Ronda Nelson: Well, my friend, I’m not sure about you but I know that I am definitely a work in progress and I imagine that you are too because this is just our life journey. If you’d like to know more about working with me about getting some coaching support for you so that you can get off-stuck from that high center, get off a high center, and start moving forward and changing the trajectory of your practice, all you have to do is go to And tell me a little bit more about you. Where are you stuck? What seems to kind of keep showing up for you where you can’t quite get past? What’s that high center point? And you’ve just answered the questions. It’s a really short form. I’d love to know a little bit more about you. And then we’ll just connect a time, we’ll find a time to chat, and I’ll see if I am a good person to be able to help you. But I think I am. I absolutely love working with practitioners. I’ve helped hundreds and hundreds of practitioners build scaling, thriving practices by getting out of their own way, dropping all that limiting belief stuff, getting away from perfection, and making it about someone else, being the CEO of your business, and then moving forward. And I’m telling you, friend, there’s a lot of success that’s just waiting for you but you got to take the first step. So, go to, and I can’t wait to hear from you. Until next time. Thanks for listening to The Clinical Entrepreneur Podcast. Talk to you soon.




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