Podcast Episode

Divesting from Perfectionism with Jess Fish

Divesting from Perfectionism with Jess Fish

by | Feb 24, 2020

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This is not the typical conversation about perfectionism, y’all, and I am warning you upfront, that you’ll probably want to listen to it at least three or four times.

Today my guest is my dear friend Jessica Fish, who is also (and she would likely not own up to this…) a genius.

Her big truth was around the importance of community and external affirmation.

From there we talked about practicing radical encouragement in your relationships and how we cannot rely on self-regulation alone. We talked about the myth of “inconveniencing people,” how we need to be honest about our bandwidth and over-giving tendencies, and all the offshoots of perfectionism like overachieving, having unreasonably high standards for ourselves, and the trap of “high performance.”

She also explained how all of this keeps us in individual mindsets which keep us upholding dominant cultural narratives and norms.

She shared an exercise with us that she uses in her Divesting from Perfectionism workshops that literally changes people’s lives on the spot, and she walked me through the fantasy of the “Ideal Self” that many of us have, and how it harms us.

We also explored what being in community with people who will hold you compassionately accountable and how we can all leverage the things we’re really good at as our contribution to dismantling systems of oppression.

It’s a juicy and meaty conversation.


About Jess Fish:
Jessica is a facilitator, educator and researcher with fifteen years of experience helping organizations and communities center inclusion and racial equity. She most often works with white individuals and predominantly white organizations to help them develop the skills to have difficult conversations around identity and power –particularly around race. As a researcher she uses both qualitative and quantitative methods to help organizations develop an informed analysis around their equity and inclusion efforts with an emphasis on accountability.

Jessica has degrees in comparative religion, race and gender studies –her intellectual pursuits, spiritual search and commitment to justice have directed her life, ultimately becoming one in the same. She shares her experiences with the hope that others can identify how to best leverage their interests, privilege and skills to become a force for collective liberation. 

Jessica partners with The Adaway Group and Every Level Leadership on organizational equity work. She frequently provides trainings on equity and inclusion, perfectionism, and transformative leadership. She lives in Los Angeles, California.

Connect with Jess:
Instagram | Facebook | Website

What You’ll Hear:
5:35 The plot twist from this episode that came up 
11:27 How Jess is feeling in her body 
14:28 How imposter syndrome shows up in our adult lives
17:40 Getting clear on what you’re good at as far as holding space and cheerleading others
19:08 Having expectations about what way and capacity you can show up for friends
24:39 How overachieving and perfectionism keeps you constricted
26:20 Elizabeth’s story about Glennon’s book 
30:50 How perfectionism shows up in workplaces
37:21 Why perfectionism can be self-harming
39:53 Why Jess loves communion 
44:07 Why Elizabeth loves grief and letting go of things
49:02 Knowing what your strengths are and leveraging them to your best ability
54:15 Skipping the analysis step and going straight into the action
57:19 Ethics of care and what that means to Jess
01:03:14 How she does the when then exercise with people
01:09:01 Why Jess loves surrendering
01:09:38 Being in conversation with the idealized self you’ve constructed
01:13:22 Her experience with establishing community and navigating community as life shifts
01:18:33 How our expectations of people play into disappointments
01:21:43 People showing up when you need them the most

Instagram Post about Glennon Doyle
Wild Soul, Sacred Body
Melissa’s Tweet about Emotional Labor in Friendships
EP 325: Emergent Strategy With Adrienne Maree Brown
Developing a Liberatory Consciousness Model by Dr. Barbara Love
EP268: Solidarity, Freedom And Liberation With Desiree Adaway

Jess Recommended Reading:
Characteristics of White Supremacy Culture
The Bias of ‘Professionalism’ Standards
Perfectionism in Increasing
Dreaming Accountability
The Four Parts of Accountability
9 Reasons Why Acting in Solidarity for Racial Justice is Preferable to ‘Allyship’
Welcome To The Anti-Racism Movement
6 Action Items for White People in the Workplace & Beyond
Seeing White –podcast series from Scene on the Radio

Click here to watch/listen or scroll upward to listen only:


Quotes from Jess:
“As friends, we have to be more honest about the bandwidth that we have at any given moment.”

“We are most likely to give love in the way we want to receive love.”

“Divesting from perfectionism is actually a way to divest from the dominant culture.”

“Being in conversation with your ego is so important.”

“Perfectionism is very much related to expectation and time.”

“It’s important to look at the characteristics of your idealized self and grieve the pieces that you’re either not in right now or are never going to be.”

“Perfectionism is often a way in which we uphold systems of oppression.”

“We oftentimes confuse making a mistake with being a mistake.” – Tema Okun

“You have to know what your strengths are to best leverage in a work for liberation.”

“Be in community with people who are going to hold you compassionately accountable.”

“Surrendering your idealized version of you, allows you to actually figure out who the hell you really are.”

You May Also Like:
EP261: Love, Race And Liberation With JLove Calderón
EP 335: Mother Wound, Navigating Adult Friendships, Cultivating Play And Online Dating Tips

Get your copy of the Untame Yourself book on Amazon!

How was this episode for you?
Was this episode helpful for you today? I’d love to know what quote or lesson touched your soul. Let me know in the comments below!


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