Break Free from Perfectionism with Guest Expert Dr. Greg Chasson

Ep: 253

Raise your hand if you consider yourself a perfectionist.

This prompt likely pushes a lot of hands into the air, and it’s even more likely that this “perfectionism” has been touted as a badge of honor.

The truth is that perfectionism isn’t doing you any favors. In fact, it’s probably holding you back. 

Today on The Bridge to Fulfillment®, Blake welcomes Dr. Gregory Chasson, PhD, ABPP, an esteemed psychologist, board-certified cognitive-behavioral therapist, researcher, and educator.  As an international speaker, he helps organizations, communities, and individuals address mental health challenges, such as perfectionism, using practical and feasible strategies.

In this episode, you’ll learn how perfectionism permeates corporate America, and why that’s not actually a good thing for workplace culture. You’ll discover the connection between perfectionist tendencies and the need for control. You’ll also understand how to overcome perfectionism by first identifying the five primary problems, and then working towards actionable solutions that will help you finally break free.

What You’ll Learn:

  • What studying OCD taught him about how he was living his own life (4:59)
  • Why perfectionism is the ultimate irony (11:33)
  • How the technology feedback loop is affecting our mental health (21:00)
  • The five primary perfectionism problems (31:20)
  • Why you should ditch list-making (36:08)

 Favorite Quotes:

  1. How I was approaching the world was not sustainable. It was very difficult to try to please everyone to not try to live your life by your values but by other people’s values. – Gregory S. Chasson
  2. I had this lightning aha moment of like, ‘Oh, these cycles of burnout, some of the problems I had actually weren’t other people. The only factor here is me. – Blake
  3. People are trying to control everything, and they can’t, they just can’t. They have this illusion or fantasy that these things are all controllable. But they just have all these variables, you end up getting burnt out, and you can’t control it all. And it ends up controlling you. – Gregory S. Chasson
  4. Mess up quick, move on, and learn from it. – Gregory S. Chasson
  5. I call perfectionism the ultimate irony in this a self-fulfilling prophecy of epic proportions. Because you will try to do something so perfectly that you actually undermine yourself to the point where it makes it highly imperfect. – Gregory S. Chasson
  6. You will be far more successful when you trust that you don’t have to figure it out. When you approach things with flexibility, when you don’t feel like you have to plan everything out, but can really focus on the next one to two things that matter. – Blake

Additional Resources: 

Connect with Dr. Gregory S. Chasson:
Flawed book website:
Get a sneak peek of the first two chapters of Flawed by going here:
Resources from the book:

For programs and opportunities to work with Blake, go to


Dr. Greg Chasson 0:02
I call perfectionism the ultimate irony in this a self fulfilling prophecy of epic proportions because you will try to do something so perfectly that you actually undermine yourself to the point where it makes it highly imperfect. And you probably could have done a better job by approaching it from a much more good enough or even a high standard approach rather than a perfectionistic approach.

Blake Schofield 0:29
Hi, I’m Blake Schofield, founder and CEO of The Bridge to Fulfillment®. Mom to three, USA Today Top 10 Professional Coach, and former corporate executive who got tired of sacrificing my life for a comfortable paycheck. My mission is to expand perspectives to achieve greater impact at home and work without sacrifice. This is The Bridge to Fulfillment®.

Blake Schofield 1:04
On today’s episode of The Bridge to Fulfillment®, I am interviewing Greg Chasson, PhD and ABPP. He’s an esteemed psychologist, board certified cognitive behavioral therapist, researcher, educator and international invited speaker, helping organizations, communities, and individuals address mental health challenges, such as perfectionism. Using practical and feasible strategies, he sees the inner workings of perfectionism and its pitfalls, as well as how to best dismantle it with tips and insights grounded in science, and honed through real world practice. He’s the award winning author of Flawed: Why Perfectionism is a Challenge for Management. We did an amazing conversation today. And I’m excited for you to learn from and with him as we talk about perfectionism in society as individuals and also within the workforce. And how you can do some very simple things to use those perfectionist tendencies actually, for your benefit, while really being able to move past a lot of the things that have kept you stuck or put you into cycles of burnout or really haven’t allowed you to maximize your impact as well as your life.

Blake Schofield 2:15
Welcome to The Bridge to Fulfillment®, Greg, I’m so excited to have you today.

Dr. Greg Chasson 2:19
I’m excited too. Thank you for having me.

Blake Schofield 2:22
Yeah, absolutely. I love being able to bring people on who have a shared passion for improving people’s lives and helping them see the world differently so that they feel empowered to create the lives that they want. And I’m excited about the topic we’re going to talk about today, which is all about perfectionism. But before we dive into that, I’d love it if you could just share a little bit with the audience about who you are, what your background is, and how did you end up doing this work?

Dr. Greg Chasson 2:48
Yeah, sure. I’m a licensed psychologist, board certified in cognitive behavior therapy. I’m the director of the behavioral interventions here at the University of Chicago and the Department of Psychiatry. The behavioral interventions for OCD and related conditions, which is a very specific family of challenges that people might experience and perfectionism, which is something we’ll be talking about today, falls squarely into that family. And we’ll talk a little bit more about that. I have been working in the field of OCD, including perfectionism, providing treatment, doing research, training students, budding psychologists, undergrads. Been doing this for many age myself, 20 years. I’m a dad, and a husband, struggled with some of my own perfectionism, not to the degree that we’ll discuss here today in terms of how it can become extremely debilitating. But enough for me to have my finger on the pulse of what’s going on. My kiddo sometimes experiences this. So I get to see as a parent and how to deal with that. But mostly, I just see it in my patients every which way. Here at the University of Chicago, there’s a certain type of individual that tends to attract, to be attracted to this place. And they’re all cut from a similar cloth. And they tend to be very high achieving, exceptional in so many ways. But what often coincides with that is a high level of perfectionism. So I think a lot of the book that I’ve recently released will, is informed by that clinical work, my own personal experience, and the research literature as well.

Blake Schofield 4:24
Awesome. I often find there’s a tie, especially as you get further enough in your career in life, there is a tie that you can really see about why and how you’ve ended up choosing the work that you’ve chosen. So you said, right, that you suffered from perfectionism, I’m interested to understand what ended up leading you into this field and deep into this research and deep into this work with others? Because I often find when we’re helping others, there is some thread that started either in our childhood or some experience that we had that opened up a passion for that work.

Dr. Greg Chasson 4:59
I think my path was a bit meandering, a lot like a lot of people’s. But mine really ended up being informed dramatically by being introduced to the world of obsessive compulsive disorder, because it just explained a lot, to me. It shaped my worldview. And perfectionism in particular, and perfectionism is not entirely synonymous with the OCD spectrum. But there’s a lot of overlap, you can have perfectionistic tendencies without having OCD, that’s quite possible. But it did open my eyes. And it allowed me to see how I was approaching the world was not sustainable, it was very difficult to try to please everyone, to not try to live your life by your values, but by other people’s values, which was very difficult. And ultimately realized that this is not the way to approach things, even if it’s going to cost you in some areas. It’s worth it, because I just didn’t see it as sustainable. It was very, you know, to try to please everyone, to try to do everything perfectly, to try not to make mistakes, to try to make sure that you understood things exactly the way that they were supposed to be. To make sure that you do things until it feels just right or looks just right, or meets other people’s standards is a recipe for misery, and often gets in the way of actually doing the best job that you can do.

Blake Schofield 6:15
Yeah, I can so relate to that. I used to describe myself as a type A perfectionist, and I actually wore it as a badge. You know, it was this, this thing of like, I’m successful, because I will work harder than everyone else, I will triangulate all the answers. I’ve thought about all of the ways in which this could not work. And I have failsafe against it. Ran multimillion dollar businesses like that. And I was at the top of every company I worked at. And I really believed that that was fundamentally who I was. And I think as a society, we sort of look at perfectionism, often, especially if you’re a high achiever as a badge, often almost as if it’s your eye color, like this is just who I am. And I came to the same conclusion that you came to, not through pretty ways. But honestly, through getting to a place where I had gone through so many cycles of burnout, that I just couldn’t do it anymore. And it was through that journey. And honestly becoming an entrepreneur that I saw the same perfectionist tendencies that were creating all the problems I had had in corporate, but I had no boss or company or industry to blame it on. And that’s when I had this lightning Aha moment of like, Oh, these cycles of burnout, some of the problems I had actually born to other people. The only factor here is me. And I began to really go on the journey to shift the patterns, beliefs, experiences that I had had that created that. And so it was a huge Aha moment for me when I realized that it didn’t have to be the way I lived life. So I’m interested in your perspective, what usually brings people to you, and what are the biggest things you think are misconceptions about perfectionism in our society today?

Dr. Greg Chasson 7:52
Yeah, two very good questions. What brings people to me is that people are trying to control everything. And they can’t, they just can’t. They have this illusion or fantasy that these things are all controllable. But that just all these variables, you end up getting burnt out, and you can’t control it all. And it ends up controlling you, which is the big problem. And so I get the people after the fact who are the burnt out, the demoralized, the people who feel hopeless. They’ve been through the rounds of helplessness, they’ve hit their head against the wall a million times, and now they’ve gotten to the stage of hopelessness. And so then they knock on my door, and they say, “What am I doing wrong?” And I say, “Well, it’s not about more control, it’s about less.” And then they look at me like I’m nuts. And then they say, “What do you mean?” And I say, “Well, I think that you have this illusion that you can control all these things and what helped me, finally, interestingly, gain control was letting go of control. And so the idea is, like, if you’ve got some control, use it to let it go. Because that’s the path forward.”

Dr. Greg Chasson 8:51
I think people have been, they just see it as more efforts gonna yield more. And, sure, there’s a degree of that, but there is a point of diminishing returns. And at some level, you’ve got to be able to understand that you can’t control everything. And this is why a lot of people that are at the top of a company, CEOs, actually tend not to be your perfectionist, right? They tend the ones that are long lasting, and sustaining their positions are the ones that are not perfectionistic. Because they can be flexible in their thinking, they have to make quick decisions, they sit with risks, they know that mistakes are bound to happen. It’s like, mess up quick and move on, right, and learn from it. Whereas you tend to then go down one level and you see like the CTO like the Chief Technology Officer, the Chief People Officer, these, like financial officer, they tend to be the ones that are holding up the entire place because of their perfectionism. And, you know, I think that they do reach a ceiling though, because to get to that next level, you need to shake that perfectionistic tendency or you’re not going to be able to sustain yourself.

Blake Schofield 9:55
Yeah. 100% and, you know, it’s not just the VP level. It’s all the weigh down, right. And then that perfectionism creates the stress and anxiety for all these people down the entire organization. It’s interesting, you know, the journey that I’ve been on the last seven years, I often tell people that who I was seven years ago is literally the polar opposite of who I am today, and how I operate and 90% of the things I believe to be true, I’ve either disproven or replaced with far more beneficial belief systems, I lived life from a very rigid perspective, it’s black or white, it’s this choice or that choice. And I think what perfectionist don’t really realize is, when you are attempting to control everything, (A) to your point, you’re actually not in control and it’s impossible. But (B) you can only see a really narrow scope of opportunities or choices in front of you. And so you’re actually handicapping yourself from creating far better results with far less work or effort because you’re not even open to what that looks like because you believe it has to go a certain way.

Dr. Greg Chasson 11:00
Right. So you not only are you stuck on a very narrow path, where you get, essentially have a hard time pivoting to other things that other approaches or other perspectives that you don’t even consider because you’re so tuned in. And a lot of times people have a hard time even processing the big picture. So it’s just even zooming out. Right? So they get so fixated on the margins of their paper, they didn’t even think, oh, is this paper even on the right topic. And so it’s a very interesting phenomenon where, absolutely, it undermines the outcome. I call perfectionism the ultimate irony in this a self fulfilling prophecy of epic proportions. Because you will try to do something so perfectly that you actually undermine yourself to the point where it makes it highly imperfect. And you probably could have done a better job by approaching it from a much more good enough or even a high standard approach rather than a perfectionistic approach. So the flexibility there is really key.

Blake Schofield 11:55
Yeah, and it’s a, it’s an interesting thing, right? Because most of us that are high achievers got where we got to, because we were, and then there becomes that tipping point where What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. And I think that there’s beauty in that journey, when as adults, we can understand that it’s an opportunity to actually grow and become better versions that are balanced, happier people, by learning to do something different versus continuing to like, beat our head up against the same wall.

Dr. Greg Chasson 12:26
Yeah, well, I do think it works. And that’s why people get stuck in it, it works until you’re about maybe 11 or 12 years old, right? Because you can absolutely blitzkrieg things for most of your childhood and get away with it. You can spend 300% on a task, you get praise, mom and dad tell you did a great job, your teacher gives you a thumbs up, and you’re feeling great about it. But around middle school is where people start to realize that maybe I can’t do it at that level for everything. And they have to start to discern what requires this amount of effort and what doesn’t. That’s a certain amount of flexibility that a lot of people who perfectionism don’t have, so they have a hard time moving fluidly. And understanding and developing at that same level. So they just continue with the same formula might take them into high school, college, maybe even they might be in charge of a couple of multibillion dollar companies. And then all of a sudden, they’re just like, wow, this is you’ve reached this point of burnout, and unsustainability. And you know, and kudos to you for having the wherewithal and the ability, actually, like the strength and the character to be able to get that long. Get far, that far along with that kind of tendency. Because I rarely see people get that far. Usually they’re getting into middle school or high school before they realize this is not sustainable. But you it sounds like you plowed right through that and were super successful. But there’s it sounds like there was a huge cost.

Blake Schofield 13:47
Yeah, yeah, I appreciate that. I often say, you know, I had I grew up with a lot of belief systems that you had to sacrifice a lot to be successful. And if you were successful, it was hard. And it took a lot of effort. And so I had a comfort level with suffering. And I had a tenacity to keep going. And so I often say I, in many ways, when I started this work, and I left corporate and I wanted to help people that were unfulfilled in their career, because that had been my challenge. I became so successful, and there was so much pressure, and I was supporting a family of five, like, How can I replace that income without starting over? And I had no idea how many people were suffering from what I suffered from and I often say, I have yet to find someone who actually a client who has suffered more than I did. And that is not a badge of honor. It’s truly I think, an understanding of the degree of how much conditioning and trauma and subconscious challenges I was facing that I’ve had. I’ve had the blessing to work through and heal, that has given me the gift of understanding the nuances of this and so many ways of which it comes to fruition and so, I carried it as a badge of honor. It really isn’t. But it has certainly given me the the gift and the ability to help people. In a way I know it wouldn’t have if I had not gone through it like I did.

Dr. Greg Chasson 15:11
I think the badge of honor really is about the overcoming it rather than the experiencing it because or at least there’s two trophies involved, because that’s not true for everyone. Unfortunately, they struggle, I’ll see somebody coming in in their 70s or 80s, who I give them some new perspective on this. And they just say, Man, I wish I had this 50 years ago, right? People read my book, and they’re like, Oh, my God, like, I wish I had this 20 years ago when I was in, you know, starting out in corporate America. And this is partly why I wrote the book is can we change the discourse on this, the toxic achievement culture is getting worse. Some research by Tom Curren out in the British in the United Kingdom, is suggesting that perfectionism is getting worse over time. And so I’m looking at this as an even worse train wreck and trying to say, Look, guys, stop, you know, halt. And we need to think about this from a new perspective. And it really is, I think, just an absolute epidemic of sorts, because people feel like perfectionism is a good thing, or at least they see it as mostly a good thing, when in reality, I think it’s probably like, if someone says that to me, of course, I’m a bit biased, I will look at them and say, like, Are you sure you want to go with that answer about like, your greatest weakness? Are you sure? Like, do you want to go there? Because I think that that’s probably more of a problem than you think it is.

Blake Schofield 16:28
I 100% agree with you. I think it’s an interesting thing, having spent 18 years in corporate America, and then been out for seven years, and through the journey in corporate America, worked at five different companies, most of those companies were fear and perfection based. I went to one that wasn’t, it was, if you screw up, you’re gonna be blackballed. And you have to become, you have to be a top performer. And you’re only as good as your last day. Yeah, all of those things. And it created. I mean, I had shingles at 28 years old, I had all sorts of health problems. And I would have told you, I handled stress well, not knowing honestly, the degree of damage I was doing to my own personal health, which I ended up that’s part of why I ended up moving as I realized I was on a trajectory to have a heart attack and probably die before I was 50. Because it was not working. And then, like I said, I got to one company that really focused on personal development and learning and iterating and started allowing me to work more in my natural way of working in strengthen. I started to see a really substantial difference in terms of my performance, and I cut my working hours by more than 30%. And I was very fearful, I wouldn’t be as successful. But in fact, I was more successful.

Blake Schofield 17:37
Today, you know, I run two businesses, and I work less than 20 hours a week, it’s proven to me through small choices, and through doing the personal work over and over and over again, that you will be far more successful, when you have a level of trust that you don’t have to figure it out. When you approach things with flexibility, when you don’t feel like you have to plan everything out, but can really focus on the next one to two things that matter all the things that you’re kind of talking about. And so that was a big reason why I wanted to bring you on is because I am in complete alignment with you that as a society, this is progressively getting worse. We have more access to information than ever and more overwhelm. We have more technology than we’ve ever had, which means we should be able to work less and yet people are working more. We have more flexibility in where and how we work, and yet we have less boundaries about what that looks like.

Blake Schofield 18:34
And for women, I see this very much come into fruition in terms of motherhood, and also taking care of the house, and trying to balance what their grandmother did. But it’s a totally different world. And in terms of men, I see this just pervasive expectation that that’s what it looks like to be successful as a man. And so I’m really excited to be able to open up that perspective for people that if you’re a high achiever, you can actually achieve far more by learning how to see things differently, shifting those belief patterns and experiences. And you don’t have to keep going through cycles of burnout. It doesn’t have to be a hustle and grind, and the people that are telling you, you have to hustle and grind to get there, if you zoom out for 1015 or 20 years, you’ll see very clearly those people are not successful, those people are not healthy. And ultimately there was a humongous price to pay for the choices that they made.

Dr. Greg Chasson 19:29
Tremendous. And you don’t want to be that person on your deathbed. Who is thinking, I wish I would have spent more time with my family or playing with my dog or going to the beach or look, it’s okay for you to value work. This is not what we’re saying. You can value work. It could be something that you find very rewarding, but you’ve got to diversify your activities. You got to focus on other values so that you have more than just one egg in the basket. You know, at the and of, at the end of life, you don’t want to, you can’t take any of that stuff with you anyway. And so what was the quality of the journey? And it was sounds like a giant cookie, but fortune cookie, but you know, there’s some truth to that and that use your values as a compass. What is it that’s important to you. And importantly, try to separate that out from what is important to you only because it’s important to other people. You know, your spouse might find something very valuable. And that’s fine, because you value your wife or your husband. But you know, be prepared to have some some internal conflicts about Wait, I don’t value that, and I value this, which is directly opposed. So there’s, you just got to know what your values are. And sometimes that’s the hardest step. What do I care about? What’s important to me? Where do I want to put my energy.

Dr. Greg Chasson 20:45
But I 100% agree with you. I think you’re fortunate to have come to this conclusion, but a lot of people haven’t. And I do think that corporate America and other parts of society are driving, people are having a hard time seeing that. And I think you’re right, technology plays a huge role. Nowhere can you get faster feedback than right now on the internet. Right. And this is a huge problem, it’s very fascinating, because you can look at the research literature on mental health issues, in youth. And around, you can see a fairly stable trajectory in the wrong direction of people getting more and more mental health issues, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and then around 2007, 2008, you see the slope change, it becomes steeper, meaning people are getting sicker more quickly, over the next several years after 2007 and 2008. And now granted, this is not necessarily a causal connection, but can you think of something that may have occurred around 2007, 2008. And if you look at the data, eating disorders are like the best one to look at, because it is unbelievably just smacks you in the face, like a brick, but just the trajectory change around that time. And so the amount of instant feedback we get on social media, for example, or on the Internet, is so profound, that it’s having a dramatic impact on our mental health. And I think perfectionism is a very obvious mechanism of that.

Blake Schofield 22:13
For sure, I mean, the Instagram culture, filters, all of these things are projecting this fake image of what life should look or feel like. And that’s what we’re raising our children to believe things should look like. And we have all of these celebrities or you know, famous entrepreneurs, people that are running around saying, This is what life can look like for you. And you just have to hustle, and you just have to make it happen. And the unfortunate part that I consistently see is that rather than challenging if the process that you’re doing is wrong, often what we’re doing as human beings is saying, Something’s wrong with me.

Dr. Greg Chasson 22:53
Yeah, yeah. And there’s actually a ton of research on that it’s attribution bias. When you’re feeling depressed or anxious, we often put a lot of bad outcomes or bad things on ourselves, rather than on the external circumstances. It really is fascinating because you get someone who’s depressed, and they think everything’s our fault, right? And so you can actually, in some ways gauge where someone’s mood is just based on how they attribute the cause of something. Here’s s a little hack for you. If you ever want to know who’s depressed around, you ask them who’s at fault for certain things. And they’ll give you a sense of where they are in their mindset. It’s really interesting, though, in general, I see, you know, I see this, I think that’s the problem with perfectionism is that they, again, it goes back to control. This idea that they have the control over all these things, and that they’re the cause and that they can prevent all these bad things from happening, that there’s a sense of over responsibility, that there’s just no way that that’s the case.

Dr. Greg Chasson 23:45
And so, the anxiety comes from this belief that there’s just too much control, or that there’s all this control that really doesn’t exist, it’s a fantasy. And then they just hit the wall so many times, which is something you described in your career, where you get burnt out, and it moves from helplessness, to hopelessness. And then you start to have this sense that you have no control. Which is interesting, right? Because actually, the truth is in the middle, you have more control than you really do think you have when you’re depressed, but you have way less control than you think you have when you’re anxious. So it’s a very interesting swing you watch people go through as they’re going through this perfectionism journey, and, and they usually come to me at the end, right? When they’re hopeless, and like, there’s not like, I’ve tried everything. And well, have you tried letting go of the control and they just look at you. I said, like, you’re a quack, which I might be, but that’s my philosophy. So I’ll stick with it.

Blake Schofield 24:34
I’ve come to the same conclusion that you have, you know, my approach really is helping people remove the root cause of the lack of safety because ultimately, you and I know that’s what’s driving all of that you want control because you feel unsafe. And at some point in time, you believed as a kid that having control would create that safety for you. And so you’ve just been operating that way, understanding your values and what you really need and where you’re going misaligned and how your life and how your working is misaligned. And then ultimately understanding how can you achieve your goals differently. And that methodology is a lot about letting go and actually allowing for more opportunity and more miracles to show up in your life. So we’re in complete alignment, which is why I have you here big because I know what you’re sharing to be true. And those of us who have spent the time to really go deep and understand this, you know, at least for me, I believe have. For me, it’s like, carrying a torch to help people understand, because if I had been given this information, 20 years ago, how much it would have changed my life, the amount of time and mental health and physical health, I could have gotten back to be more present for my kids, when they were younger, to have avoided a lot of negative outcomes as a result of believing that I had to do things a certain way in order to be successful in order to be safe in order to financially support my family, etc.

Dr. Greg Chasson 26:03
Yeah, unfortunately, those are years that you may not be able to get fully back, but you got plenty of them left. So it’s, it’s good to maximize those the way that you can. And I think that was partly why I wrote the book, not partly, I mean, entirely why I wrote the book was, because I was doing this one to one. Patients would come in, I would give them the same principles that are in the book. And then I was just thinking to myself, This just is too slow. People need to hear this. And so that’s why I wrote it. And hopefully, we can get some eyeballs on it, because I think it can help a lot of people. But you know, there are gonna be people who bucket. They’re just like, No, this, you know, we, they are so invested in this achievement culture, and they see it, like theirs. And the fear is palpable, right, like, if I give this up, then my quality is going to suffer, as you indicated.

Dr. Greg Chasson 26:49
And I hope that the book provides this message that that’s not the case, my goal is not watered down the quality of your workplace, it’s actually to make it more productive. And I think that’s the end result, you’re gonna have happier people who are more engaged, who are more efficient, and are essentially less toxic to the work environment. Because essentially, like perfectionism, often for a lot of people isn’t just about the individual, it’s they often projected out to other people. And so if you’re holding other people to the standards, it’s extremely toxic for other people, especially when it becomes morals, moralistic. If you’re holding other people to rigid and excessive moral standards, you become a very hated person in the workplace. And people avoid you like the plague. And you end up just looking very self righteous. And oftentimes, people don’t realize it, but that’s coming from this perfectionism framework.

Blake Schofield 27:47
Yeah, and I see that all the time working with leaders and having, you know, been a leader for more than a decade in my career in corporate, how often high achievers get promoted to levels of management. And underneath all of that is this feeling that they aren’t good enough, or somebody’s going to actually see that they’re not as perfect. And as a result of that they attempt to be a good leader by micromanaging. They attempt to be a good leader by setting all of these high expectations. And it actually does the exact opposite to their entire workforce. And so I know, we’ve talked some about perfectionism as an individual. But I’d love to kind of shift now and talk a little bit about it in the workforce, because I came to the same conclusion that you and I’ve now helped hundreds of people do this, and I know what you’re saying to be true. When my clients really are able to become their best selves and shift out of these patterns of perfectionism. They become much more empathetic leaders, they become much more flexible, their teams learn and feel like they can take more control of their calendars and be more productive in what they’re doing. And ultimately, they get promoted, they have better results, their team has better results. Sometimes we just have to get out of this idea of well, this thing seems so foreign, and there’s no way I can get there too. Can I just be open to the idea? Can I just take one step with my team and then see what happens? And that starts a good snowball in the right direction.

Dr. Greg Chasson 29:12
It does. But the rigidity of perfectionism gets in the way of fighting perfectionism, which is one of the biggest obstacles. It’s very difficult to pivot if you have a difficulty pivoting, right, so that’s the problem. And I also think people get stuck on the rules. So you have this long standing set of history, rules, culture, and you know, the saying like, Oh, we’ve always done it that way. Like anybody in the, in the workforce, who’s I’m sure everyone’s heard that before. And any good leader will tell you that that makes them cringe. It completely, completely undermines risk, innovation, creativity, all of it. Yes, there’s a time and place for rules. We need structure, we need predictability. But when people get over focused and stuck on rules, you often do so in a way that gets in the way of the whole point of those rules in the first place. The principle, right, the principle of it.

Dr. Greg Chasson 30:03
So if you’re so focused on people getting to work at a certain time, at 7 am, this happened to me, with, not to me, but with a client that I have, was sent home on a shift a customer facing job. One minute late to work. One minute, as like some clocks are not even adjusted at the same time, like how does that even work? Right? Is this by like the grant, like, is this like the clock, the big important clock in the middle of the universe that like figures out exactly what time it is very interesting. But this person was sent home, because of this rule. Maybe the manager was trying to send a message, whatever. But ultimately, they were short handed for that shift, because they didn’t have someone to be there to help with the customers. And what’s the point of that rule? Well, making sure that you’re fully staffed, that customers are fully taken care of, that, that staff are not taking advantage of loosey goosey rules, and, but in the end, you undermine the entire point of those rules. And you ended up hurting your business because customers are probably not happy. And that’s exactly what I’m talking about. We’re getting stuck on rules can cost you big time, especially if it’s undermining the principle.

Blake Schofield 31:12
100%. So you say that there are five primary perfectionism problems in the workplace, what are those that you see?

Dr. Greg Chasson 31:20
The first one is a dysfunctional emphasis framework. This is a way that I think about task prioritization. Because I think people with perfectionism, this is probably one of their biggest difficulties. So I have what’s called Emphasis A, Emphasis B, and Emphasis C. Emphasis A is to give everything you’ve got to that task. Everything, your heart and soul, blood, sweat, and tears, every other cliche you could think of. Right? The second strategy, Emphasis B, is the just get it done strategy, just get it done. Right. Doesn’t need to be awful, but doesn’t need to be amazing. Just get it done. Right. And then there’s the emphasis C strategy, which is to not do it at all. Now, these three have their time in place. They’re all used in certain situations, no judgment, there’s not one is not better than the other, it totally depends on the circumstance. Even not doing something at all has its time in place, right? I, I do not open my junk mail, I just toss it right in the recycle bin, right? Because to me, that is wasted effort. It’s not consistent with my values, it’s not going to yield anything that’s important to me. Whereas somebody with extreme perfectionism might feel like they’ve missed out on something, they need to open it, it’s important to them. Like, you know, it’s really an interesting dynamic there with someone who’s perfectionistic just even watching them deal with junk mail.

Dr. Greg Chasson 32:40
And in fact, this is interesting side notes, which I’ll get back to what I was about to say Orting compulsive hoarding disorder, highly correlated with perfectionism. So you can imagine these folks saving all their junk mail, because they feel like they might need it or that there’s something important in there, and they can’t get rid of it. Now imagine that on a much bigger scale, that’s hoarding, right for a lot of people. Anyway, Emphasis C is not to do it at all and Emphasis B is to do it, you know, sort of in a good riddance strategy. And there’s a time in place for all three of these and they should be guided by your values. So if I’m studying for the LSAT, because I want to go to law school, maybe I Emphasis A the daylights out of that task. But most things in life, Emphasis B is what’s needed. You don’t need to Emphasis A everything. And that’s the problem with perfectionism is that they Emphasis A everything, where they attempt to, and it’s impossible, and so things get pushed off, forcefully to Emphasis C. So they’re not choosing strategically what not to do, Emphasis C, their perfectionism is dictating to them based on the fact that they can’t do everything that they want to do.

Dr. Greg Chasson 33:44
So really, the strategy is about swapping the ratio. Emphasis A predominance and perfectionist, and I would say Emphasis B is predominant and non perfectionist. Flipping the ratio for perfectionist is exactly what you need to do, they need to be start focusing on Emphasis B most of the time, using their values as a guide for what needs, what kind of emphasis approach. But I have to tell you doing that is extremely anxiety provoking for people. If they think something quote unquote, should be done with Emphasis A which is everything to them, doing something with an Emphasis B or even an Emphasis C approach is extremely anxiety provoking, paralyzing. And so I’ve framed this as exposure therapy. This is what we do in exposure therapy. So we’re not doing therapy in corporate America, but we are using the principles, I’m going to borrow from them and do exposure principle, use exposure principles to tell people who are struggling to emphasis, they tried to Emphasis A everything, to start using their values to choose what, you know, five things out of 100 are really critical for their values. And then everything else needs to be Emphasis B or C.

Dr. Greg Chasson 34:48
And watch them as they struggled to sit with the anxiety but encouraged them through that and realize that this is the path forward like you have to learn to sit with that possibility. That risk that maybe you quote unquote should have done that task, Emphasis A, but you did not. And that’s the, that’s one exercise that I will encourage people to do. This often includes making mistakes on purpose, believe it or not. Going and doing things, not just an Emphasis B framework, but I’m having them do little things that are actually not correct. So that they can sit with the anxiety that comes with the perceived consequence of that, which is often much bigger in their head than it is in reality. So we’re doing these exercises with people in the workplace, based on exposure principles, which are extremely robustly supported in the research literature. And so that’s one. The next one is processed paralysis. And it’s very similar. This is where people get stuck in the process. How do I optimize the strategy? How do I pick the right order of operations? Do I do this first? Do I do that first? And you can just even get stuck trying to figure that out? Blake, how many times you got stuck writing a list and writing more list and getting stuck? Like making lists about lists? You ever done that one yet?

Blake Schofield 35:57
Oh, yeah, I lived that life for so long. It wasn’t even funny, you know. And some, some of it was my own perfection in the summer was childhood conditioning. My mother loves lists.

Dr. Greg Chasson 36:07
Yeah. There’s a love affair between perfectionist and list. And so that’s one of the first divorce approaches I take. Let’s divorce you from these lists, because lists have their place. But they often become a tool for of paralysis for people with perfectionism. And this is another irony, right? So you make these lists, and then you never actually get to the things on the list.

Blake Schofield 36:26
And then you feel guilty that you have these things on the list that you didn’t complete? And then you feel and I’ve watched this, and then you feel like you failed. And then you feel like you can’t achieve what you want. And then you’re literally creating this entire loop. Yeah, I, I don’t do lists, I haven’t done lists, probably in a couple of years. So you’re so right about this, that I just want to stop for a minute and just like give the audience a chance to think about that. Are you a list builder? And do you do this behavior where you create these lists, and then you don’t complete what’s on it, and then you feel guilty, because the things keep moving, and then you shame yourself about it, and then you feel like you’re not successful? I think this is one of the most common, like insidious behaviors that I see. But nobody stops to say, maybe it’s not that something’s wrong with me. But maybe this process I’m using isn’t actually working for me, one of the things I think is really powerful is to actually track your time and how much you accomplish. Because right things, on average, take two and a half times longer than we think that they do. And so if you have a list constantly of 20 things, but literally, you only have enough time on a weekly basis to do three. Rather than recognize time is limited, I really can only do three things, you just keep creating this list of stuff that’s never ever possible to achieve. And so you literally are creating your own sense of failure on a day to day week to week basis.

Dr. Greg Chasson 37:55
Yeah, I think that if there’s one tool I could use to shame people, it would be list. Like if there was a torture, Guantanamo version of perfectionism, this would be, there’s, it’s an absolute shaming experience, that people use lists all the time, and their people are functional with lists, and they use them and they love they get, like this dopamine kick out of crossing something off their list, that’s fine. But this, this message is meant for the people who get stuck with their list and then get ashamed. And just in my mind, nothing more devastating or powerful of an emotion than shame, for shutting down everything in your life. And I think lists are a fast track to some of that shame. I do think that it is nice for a listener to just check in with themselves. And I do agree with you that timing can be a really useful external cue for you. Because you know, we’ll talk about this in the book a little bit Flawed is that you can establish time limits for doing things for. Okay, you’ve got, if you want to Emphasize A this thing, fine. If it’s consistent with your values, great. Here’s the amount of time you’re going to do it. When this goes off, this alarm goes off, you are done. I don’t care if it’s half done, you are turning this thing in. Right, you’re clicking send. And the idea is that establishing those boundaries can be useful because oftentimes these things drift, right? How many things on your list have been there for years, I’ve got a paper I was supposed to write from, like five years ago still on my to do list. And at some point, it’s so obsolete that it’s not even worth writing anymore. Right? So it’s just that these lists become their own animal, their own creature and you got to deal with it.

Blake Schofield 39:32
Yeah, and I think just even hearing you say that is another key thing I’ve really come to understand and, and share with people. It took me a while to understand this. I tend to see high achievers tend to also be idea people often. And then there’s this feeling that you need to action, all of the ideas. And if you don’t action all of the ideas, you will miss the thing that you needed or, right, something bad will happen. And I used to believe (A) everything my mind told me, which is not true. And (B), if I had this idea, I needed to execute it. And I didn’t really have a good process to be able to prioritize those or to test out several things at the same time rather than go all in on something. And so as a result of that, what I saw was patterns of like not completing things, which also creates a guilt and shame spiral. Because then you have too many things that you’re attempting to do that you can’t do, as opposed to actually identifying what’s the thing that’s going to matter. And being open to allowing some uncertainty on what those might be, or allowing yourself to say that’s a great idea. But it’s not actually important right now. And learning how to shift that behavior and approach that differently, made a massive impact to me, I stopped doing probably 80% of the work that I used to. And again, far more effective on choosing the thing that makes the most sense.

Dr. Greg Chasson 40:57
And it also overvalues this concept of the idea, as if it’s not like a dime a dozen or that everything is original, everyone’s probably had an idea that they thought was awesome. And then you go and you look, like, Okay, this has been done before, this is a derivative, you might have come to it on your own in parallel. But most of the time, it’s not the idea that leads to the success. It’s the execution of it. And if you’re trying to work on a million things at once and do it all with an Emphasis A approach, none of its gonna get done. And your idea never comes to light. It’s really, you know, I think it’s a common problem for people.

Blake Schofield 41:31
Yes, that’s one of my mentors always says “The thinker is far more handicaps than the doer.

Dr. Greg Chasson 41:38
Absolutely. I love that. I might steal that.

Blake Schofield 41:42
Yeah. Nick, who shared it with me and had a very non conventional approach to how he lived life. And it’s changed my life substantially to be able to see that yeah, it didn’t have to be that hard. That it could be far easier, that everything didn’t need to be perfect. And years ago, when he shared that with me, I was like, interesting. And now that I live in the world of doing as opposed to the world of just thinking it’s, it’s a massive difference. Well, it’s been such a pleasure talking to you, I want to make sure because you said you have this book coming out, I want to make sure that the listeners, number one, understand how to find the book, and number two, like what are the key things you, are insights or topics that they’ll get from reading the book?

Dr. Greg Chasson 42:22
Yeah, thank you for asking. So the book is out. It’s available on paperback. And it’s on Kindle as well. And there will be an audio book coming out for the listeners, I imagine there might be a few of those who listened to your podcast. So that will be coming out probably in the next month or two. It is a book that is essentially geared towards leadership management, corporate America, for I, you know, there are books out there self help books for perfectionism, there are books out there, I’m training mental health professionals on how to deal with it. There’s nothing out there that I could find on how to help people in corporate America, deal with a workplace that’s perfectionistic, their employees that are perfectionistic, there’s a chapter in there on how to deal with a perfectionistic boss. So flipping the script, right, so how do your employees deal with you, Blake? Or at least 10 years ago? How did they deal with you? And so there are some tips in there provides a framework for understanding, but also I think about 60% of the book, or just, here’s some strategies, here are some ways to approach this, to loosen the rigid thinking, to promote values based behavior, to focus on principles and not rules, to shut down sort of this moralistic, self righteous, toxic workplace environment.

Dr. Greg Chasson 43:30
So there’s all that covered in the book. And I would say, though, that the most interesting feedback was super surprising is that people who have read the book who are perfectionistic, are actually found it extremely useful, not just for the people that are dealing with perfectionists, but the actual perfectionist has found the messaging very useful. And then a lot of people have told me, so why did, like, this is useful for well beyond the workplace. And I said, Yeah, hard to write a book for everyone on the planet. So I had to find a narrow lane. But I do think that it can be helpful for people who are thinking about perfectionism in general, maybe it’s in the schools, maybe it’s in your family life, in your marriage, whatever it is. I think the principles are transcendence in that way. And so yeah, please pick it up, the book, you can learn more at, which is a bit of an unfortunate, but in the spirit, URL for the book, you can check out more of, you know, blogs and cetera, at my website, And I hope it helps people, my hope is that people will read it and it will give them a little bit of a different perspective.

Blake Schofield 44:39
And that they’ll take some of those things and apply them and see it for themselves. Because I think it’s one thing to consume information. We do that a lot as a society. But sometimes, well, most of the time, what you need to do is just take one step forward, and then see what happens. And for me, for my clients, for what I’ve watched, you know, as I really live in the world of transformation. What I often see is sometimes it’s that one small step, and then it changes your perspective of Oh, it actually is possible to do this, I actually have the ability to change my life without all of these negative consequences that I thought were going to happen. And then, like I said, it can become a snowball to creating more impact with a lot less work, a lot more peace, and a lot better health.

Dr. Greg Chasson 45:24
You’re living embodiment of this, I mean, you, you are example of how someone can overcome some of this zeri shackling perfectionistic culture and self, self culture, self tendencies, you know, we’ve talked about your metaphorical trophy to prove it, and I think you’ve earned it.

Blake Schofield 45:40
Thank you, thank you, like I said it, I don’t think I would, you know, go back and choose it. But I see, I see the blessing in it. And while I don’t get the years back, my children got to see the benefit of the transformation. And they saw what both things look like. And there’s huge benefit in that. And I am able to take these lessons and help other people avoid the same challenges that I went through. And that, that is the gift, at the end of the day, because that’s what I think we’re here for is to take our experiences and our lessons to be able to do good and help other people. So.

Dr. Greg Chasson 46:16
Absolutely, you can’t see it, but that a chef’s kiss. That’s, that was well said I, I do think that that’s, you know, modeling for kids, to me is probably the number one thing you can do as a parent. So keep going. That’s important.

Blake Schofield 46:30
Thank you, Greg. Well, we’ll wrap it up with my, my favorite question to ask, is there anything I didn’t ask you about that I should have, or anything that’s on your heart that you feel like you haven’t shared that you want to as we close, close up for today?

Dr. Greg Chasson 46:43
Yeah, it was fun to try to find a good place to say this, because I think it’s really important. It’s a nice way to punctuate our discussion is, please, as a perfectionist, do not think that we are out to get you that this is a witch hunt that I’m trying to vilify you. This is about how we can take perfectionistic tendencies and mitigate some of the damage that comes from it. But please know that perfectionism comes with some amazing qualities. And that getting rid of perfectionist in your workplace is just a bad move in general. Instead, create a culture, an environment where they can thrive and, and use their strengths to their advantage. Things like loyalty, honesty, attention to detail, and my favorite, conscientiousness. Right, if I could pick one ingredient for a quality employee, that would be the one. And so perfectionists are going to be a rockstars, especially if you can create the right environment for them.

Blake Schofield 47:34
When perfectionist are freed from the shackles and fear of something bad happening if they don’t do everything right, what I’ve seen consistently is their ability to perform, actually exponentially increases. So you take your highest performers, and you basically double the impact. And you keep those people a lot longer, because those are the people that are most likely to burn out, most likely to leave your organization, when they don’t feel like they’re being successful. They don’t feel like they’re being, they are having what they need from the workplace. And often they don’t realize that they have the power to change the things that are making them unfulfilled in their career. And then it’s actually not that company or not that boss. And so there’s huge, huge benefit to your point to being able to understand these things, and take the power that you own instead of believing that the power is in controlling other things. It’s really in controlling yourself. And that’s where the gift is. So thank you, Greg. It’s been an honor to have you today.

Dr. Greg Chasson 48:30
Yeah, thank you so much. It’s been, it’s been a pleasure.

Blake Schofield 48:32
Thanks again for joining us on another episode of The Bridge to Fulfillment®. I hope today’s guest really helped open up your perspective about the benefits of perfectionism and how you can leverage your strengths in a different way without having to deal with some of the negative impacts. Perfectionism, right, is strife in our culture. And in order to achieve our biggest impact, while also really taking care of our health, our family, our lives, and having the balance and peace that we want. We have to begin to learn to do things differently because what got you here is not what will get you there.