Lisa Earle McLeod: Author, Speaker, Humor Columnist
If you ever have the pleasure of meeting her, Lisa Earle McLeod will make you feel like she’s known you for years and knows everything about you. That’s because she believes that her life mission is making women laugh and helping them realize how wonderful they are.
“My specialty is in the everyday angst of counterproductive behavior of women who actually have it pretty good and don’t know it,” Lisa said.
And life is good for this remarkable woman who claims that she has three lives: wife and mom of two kids, author, and motivational speaker. Lisa, who lives in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia, has been married for 21 years and has made it her goal to encourage women to realize their potential. “In every single case, that’s happy,” she said. “The goal is to understand that each person is sent to earth for a specific purpose. God did not send you to earth to worry about how you are going to carpet your family room. God’s purpose is for you to experience love, and He’s given you special skills to enable you to do that.”
With two books under her belt, “Forget Perfect,” and “Finding Grace When You Can’t Even Find Clean Underwear” (Jefferson Press), Lisa accomplishes her task through enabling women to lighten up and laugh at themselves. “It would be great if life was smooth and people didn’t bother you, and you never had to do laundry,” she said. “But, we need to just get over ourselves; we’re all tied up in our dirty underwear to see what our real purpose is.” And how exactly does she propose we do this? “By creating purpose and fun with what you already have,” she advised,”and, letting go of the nutty, counter-productive things that we do that make us crazy.”
Her popular message has been featured on Good Morning America, Fox News, Oprah Magazine, USA Today, Guideposts and The Wall Street Journal. Timely and in demand, Lisa’s ideas are liberating women from the agonizing perfectionism that is so prevalent in our gender. “Women seem to have a problem feeling that they don’t really measure up, but also fail to realize how great they can really be,” she said. “I think it’s because we’re so busy trying to adhere to a number of illusive and impossible standards.” Lisa refers to a study conducted a couple of years ago that revealed that a girl’s self-esteems peaks at age ten, but doesn’t come back to that level until age 40. “Women experience a 30-year troth of lack of self-esteem,” she said. “And, I think that what the ten year olds and 40 year olds have in common is that both groups just don’t care what other people think.” Lisa feels that the ten year-olds don’t really grow into other people, they just eventually recover who they are underneath.
With such philosophical ideas about human behavior, you would think Lisa’s training is in psychology or a related specialty. But, she claims that her skills have not been acquired by formal training “I read a lot, and I watch people and pick up patterns,” she said. Her classmates in high school may have been on to her when they voted her most talkative in her class in high school. “But, Sandy Bullock [yes, that's THE Sandra Bullock], who went to my school was voted most likely to brighten your day,” she remarked.
Lisa’s first experience as a public speaker came through her first job out of college. She worked in sales at Proctor and Gamble where she soon learned that corporate life is not for her. “I was taken by sales training, though,” she said. “So, I went to work for a sales training company where I conducted seminars. I began to realize that when I told stories and made them funny that people liked them better.” Over time they became funnier and funnier. She found that as a speaker, one can take dry content and “funny it up” and make it more understandable for the listener. “Ten years into that, I got the idea to write my first book, ‘Forget Perfect,’ and that transitioned me from being a trainer to being a speaker,” she explained.
“I conducted seminars for women who made great incomes and who looked good on the outside,” Lisa said. “They had great jobs and a lot going for them, but when I spoke with them personally, I realized that all they could talk about were all the ways that they weren’t perfect.” That’s the point at which she experienced an epiphany that women are beating themselves up and there is no one around to alert them that they don’t have to be perfect.
The core message of Lisa’s first book, “Forget Perfect,” is that trying to attain perfection doesn’t make people like you more, it makes them like you less. “I used to think that one of these days I’d get my life organized, have more dinner parties, get better clothes, and then my life would be perfect,” she said. “But, then I realized that if I could do all that, I’d be one of those annoying people.” She uncovered the fact that women feel the most fulfilled when they are connected to other people and when they’re doing something that matters.
Her second book, “Finding Grace,” is equally funny, and its central theme is how to learn to love the life you’ve got. “Every minute that you’re thinking about how things should be is keeping you from enjoying the way they are,” she said.
Lisa makes a distinction between two variations of perfection: The first is when you worry about what the outside looks like, and the second is when you worry about how the inside feels. She claims that the values and lessons she promotes are those she must apply as well. She tells of the delicate balance she often juggles with her varied responsibilities. “My family is very supportive on an emotional basis, but a mom’s a mom’s a mom,” she said. “Motherhood is a double-edged sword; it’s indentured servitude and a monarchy at the same time.” She also believes that her husband is much more supportive than many other husbands might be in terms handling chores at home and with the kids, “but the way he is most supportive,” she said, “is that he’s fodder for a lot of the stories I write about, and he’s very gracious about that where other men might feel threatened.”
In addition to her long list of obligations Lisa also writes a weekly column that runs in a newspaper chain outside of Atlanta, as well as the Buffalo News and the chain of papers called The Southern Newspapers. “I do a lot of things in my column and cover everything from T.V. and religion, to sex and fast food.”
Most women who visit Lisa’s Web site, read her books or columns, or hear her speak will attest to the liberating effect that she has on them. There’s nothing like a powerful and energizing message, sandwiched in humor and garnished with transparency, to help us all take a realistic look at our goals and the way that we can sabotage our own progress. But thanks to Lisa’s humorous observations, we can all quit chasing the perfectionism that we probably can never attain anyway and enjoy who we are and what we have in the here and now.
For more about Lisa Earle McLeod, visit www.forgetperfect.com, where you can read a book excerpt, too.
Lisa’s books are available at most major bookstores, as well as on our very own The Savvy Gal Store .