Sports & Fitness

Forget Perfect

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Lisa Earle McLeod – The Gwinnett author who released us (thank goodness!) from chasing perfection, hits the road with a new book, harnessing girlfriend power to find grace and the meaning of life.

by Dana Urrutia

Fourteen years ago, right after the birth of her first child, Snellville resident Lisa Earle McLeod had it – the mommy epiphany. A Fortune 500 company veteran and an in-demand corporate trainer, she took one look at her daughter and knew that life would never be the same.

"I thought I had found the secret of the universe," she recalls. And it had little to do with board rooms and bottom lines.

Eager to share her realization with her sisters in suits, McLeod felt called to chronicle her wisdom in a book on work-life balance. One trip to the local book store revealed shelves full of self-help missives on the art of perfectly balancing the demands of home and work with nary an eyelash out of place.

"I realized I had absolutely nothing to add," she recalls.

You're okay, but I”m too tired to tell you

So she set about juggling and balancing, as millions of women do. Five years later and pregnant with her second daughter, McLeod was still working as a corporate trainer with clients including Kimberly Clark, Dell and Home Depot. A little older, a little wiser and a lot more exhausted, she would join her women trainees at the end of the day for dinner.

"I was pregnant and I was tired, so I didn”t talk much," McLeod remembers. But she heard an earful.

Her dinner companions – all of them – complained about themselves and their imperfections. The women felt they weren”t successful enough at work, patient enough at home with their children, attentive enough to their husbands or even devoted enough to their aging parents. These women – who seemingly had it all – felt like they "just weren”t enough."

And then McLeod had her second epiphany – in two parts. "First, I thought someone should write a book and tell them that they are okay. Then I immediately thought – I”m not smart enough to write a book."

But this time, her research confirmed that her point of view – "work-life balance is a crock" – was nowhere to be found.

No one loves perfection

McLeod turned her revelation into her first book, Forget Perfect, published in 2001 and now in its fourth printing. Advising women to find "joy, meaning and satisfaction in the life you”ve already got and the you you already are," McLeod struck a chord.

"Perfection is not an endearing quality," says McLeod. "I don”t want to show you how to do more, get better organized, rise through the ranks of corporate America, or plan your menus a week in advance; the rest of us have tried all that and frankly, it left us feeling rather flat."

Self-described as a humorist who offers "spiritual self-help with dirty jokes," McLeod is now a nationally syndicated columnist and a sought-after speaker and media guest on shows including Good Morning America and Fox News. Her second book, Finding Grace When You Can”t Even Find Clean Underwear, was published in April 2007.

Beyond book jacket lingo, McLeod says what we”re all thinking. She gives voice to the realization that comes to all of us – in the conference room at work, at the PTA meeting, in the kitchen with our husbands or standing in the doorway to a child”s room – and prompts us to look around and wonder, "Am I the only one here who thinks this is crazy?"

She”s neither vindictive, nor whiny and doesn”t portray today”s women as self-sacrificing martyrs. She just gets it, and makes that connection from a home office rig