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Prowess Tribe Spotlight: Leslie Gaar

1. Background – what have you done (this is not limited to work), where are you from, what do you want us to know about your past?
I’m from a small town in north Texas, where my passions consisted of ballet, singing, and dreaming of getting out of that small town. I’ve spent most of my professional career in early childhood education, first as a teacher and later as a consultant, sporadically pursuing my theatrical interests on the side. A few years ago, just after being hired for a position that was the next logical career step in my field, I kind of had a “come to Jesus” moment, (many of them, actually), when I slowly realized just how unhappy I was. I knew it was time for some major changes in my life. That lead to me starting my blog, which has lead to all sorts of writing opportunities, including my first book, which I am *this* close to finishing. More than that though, it helped me see that 1) I am a creator- this was news to me, and 2) the main reason I felt so unfulfilled was that I had always thought of my creativity as a flaw rather than an asset. Once I began to truly embrace that side of myself, things have become much clearer. Don’t get me wrong, everything isn’t sunshine and roses, but I am much clearer about who I am and where I’m going. That has made all the difference in the world to my quality of life and that of my family.
2.  Describe the moment when you realized “holy sh*t, Prowess Project is going to change the world!”. 
I don’t feel qualified to answer this because I’m just beginning to learn what Prowess Project is all about! I will say this project has been a long time coming. For too long women have had to find their own way back into the workforce and figure it all out alone. I love the idea of a virtual village supporting them.
3.  What do you wish that your coworkers knew about your work style? 
I mostly work alone, so I don’t typically have many coworkers to speak of. My work style can look a little chaotic to others, I think. I like for each day to be different from the last, so I normally have a lot of different projects going at once. That has made past coworkers who are more linear in their thinking a bit uncomfortable because they were afraid I was going to drop a ball. For a while it made me uncomfortable too, because I thought their way of doing things was the only right way. Now I just know that’s how my mind works. I own it and I love it!
4.  What’s your all-time favorite productivity hack (this can be in personal & professional life)? 
The more time that goes by, the more I see how much perfectionism can be such a trap, so I try to keep this hack, (really more of a mantra), in mind:This is good enough. We all have a finite amount of time, mental energy, and resources, and if we use them obsessing over every little detail, we’re really limiting ourselves on what we can achieve. Plus, we’ll drive ourselves and those around us crazy in the process! By the way, this goes for both our personal and professional lives. If you’re a perfectionist, leaving things before you’re 100% satisfied with them can feel like you’re slacking, but in reality they really are probably more than fine. The dinner you gave your kids that could’ve been a little healthier- it’s good enough. The presentation you could’ve finished in 3 hours but are still working on it 3 days later because the font isn’t right- good enough. Move on.
5. If you could bring attention to one thing that women deal with juggling kids and career that goes unnoticed or unthanked, what would it be? 
It’s starting to get more attention recently, but more than anything else I think the mental labor women undertake is astounding. I recently saw a cartoon with a man and a woman running a race that was meant to be a metaphor for their careers. One lane was clear, and the man in it jogged contentedly along towards his goals. The woman’s lane, however, had all these hurdles labeled with things like ‘dishes,’ ‘dentist appointments,’ ‘laundry,’ that kind of thing. This poor cartoon lady just looked exhausted hurling herself over those hurdles in pursuit of the same goals the man had. I love that cartoon, but it really pissed me off at the same time, because it’s so dead on. There’s no doubt that things have drastically improved as far as division of labor, but we still have a long way to go, and the problem is sometimes men don’t see that. They think how much better they’re doing than their fathers- and they’re right- and move on. I ain’t buying that, son. Will things ever be completely equal? Probably not. But until women have more support and equity in the daily grind, they will continue to run a double race.
6.  What kids song (or song your kid listens to) is currently stuck in your head? 
I’ve always shamelessly pushed my own musical taste on my kids, and thankfully they’re young enough to still listen to me. I’m painfully aware that will end soon. My twins are super into Stevie Wonder right now, and we’re reading a kid’s biography on him that talked about how “Fingertips, Part 2” became his first hit when he was like 12 years old. Then, by chance, the song came on when I was getting my hair done the next day and my daughter was all excited. I’m hanging onto that for as long as possible because I know Taylor Swift is headed my way soon. *sob*
7.  What does a “me” day look like to you
A real “me” day would include a good workout in the morning, followed by sort of creative work like writing, dancing, or rehearsing, and then a good nap and a movie all by my little lonesome. Who do I speak to about making this happen?
8.  Define empowerment. 
To me, empowerment is all about recognizing your own strengths and gifts, and tapping into them in order to achieve your goals. When you are empowered, you sift through all the shit thrown your way, whether it comes from the outside world or inside your own head. You push past all that into your true core self who knows exactly what you’re capable of, even when your mind thinks it knows otherwise.


More from wisdom from Leslie here.

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