"Take A Load Off, Inner Roommate..."

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We all “get in our own way.” We all, consciously or unconsciously, engage in behaviors that hinder our effectiveness, our results, our level of satisfaction…you name it. People do this to themselves in a variety of ways.

If we try to give constructive feedback to an employee when we’re angry and irritated, we’re getting in the way of our message.

If we do not return the phone call of an angry customer because it is uncomfortable, we’re getting in the way of resolving the issue.

If we make a batch of brownies when we’re trying to shed pounds, we’re likely getting in the way of our weight loss.

Often, we get in our own way by letting our mental chatter or head trash get the best of us. “That person seems annoyed. You must have done something wrong,” I tell myself. Or “you’re never going to get that proposal out in time!” We talk to ourselves all day long, often with a very critical voice.

I recently came across a mantra. “Take a Load Off, Inner Roommate,” it said. How profound!

The way that we talk to ourselves has a tremendous impact on how we show up, how we perform at work, and how we parent our kids.

If we can quiet, ignore or better yet, laugh at that inner roommate when he/she not serving us, we will find ourselves in a much happier and more productive place.

Interested v. Interesting


In July, for the first time EVER, I attended my high school reunion. It had been 30 years since I had seen most of these folks, and the contact was limited to Facebook. During my formative high school years, I never really “gelled” with my class, which undoubtedly contributed to my choice to forgo previous reunions. Now, in 2018, thanks to a family vacation in close proximity to the event, as well as plenty of coaxing from my mother and sister, I decided to attend. I was pushing far out of my comfort zone and I.WAS.NERVOUS.

After some thought, I realized that my nervousness could completely derail any enjoyment of the event if I were not careful. I made a conscious and deliberate effort to shift my perspective. Rather than worrying about whether it would be awkward, people would remember me, etc., I decided to set a goal of making every conversation at the event meaningful. I would approach each interaction with a purpose—to learn all about the adult version of the person I knew in 1988 and to make each feel like the most fantastic person in the room….no matter what vibe I received. I would use the same level of engagement, curiosity, kindness and thought that I strive to bring to my coaching and business life.

As we approach opportunities and contacts, we are at our very best if we focus on being interested rather than interesting. Whether it be a sales prospect or a new colleague, we should let our curiosity guide us and seek to understand. In so doing, we facilitate a deeper personal connection, naturally build trust and transfer positive energy to the other party. The higher the stakes, the higher the importance. If we lay the right foundation, we always have the opportunity to follow up and continue the conversation at a later date. If we make the wrong impression? Not so much….

As for my reunion? Not one regret. As it turned out, there was no reason to be nervous.

2018 Goals...It's Not Too Late!

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My “New Year” commenced a little bit late this year….on January 16. On the one hand, it was fitting, as I was celebrating the one-year anniversary of Thrive to Lead.  On the other hand, the truth is that I just was not ready to rock on January 1.

I fully intended to begin the year on January 1. Earlier in the fall, I thought that I would use the last two weeks of December reflecting upon the year, internalizing my lessons learned, and using them to formulate my goals for 2018. Not my idea--I had read it somewhere. Perfect!

Lesson learned.

I surmised (around December 27) that originator of the two-week reflection period was not a mom with two school-age children on winter break, was not hosting multiple Christmas gatherings, and did not have obligations to clients during these two weeks. I had no time for reflection during the final 14 days of 2017. Going forward, I will select another time.

Fortunately, thanks to a fantastic peer group, I had drafted and refined my goals for 2018. I only needed to ink them. Once on paper, I broke the goals down into quarterly chunks and weekly benchmarks (with accountabilities) for vital activities.  I took this from Gino Wickman's book, Traction.

Finally, thanks to a weekend retreat with my dear college friends, I was able to slow my pace to reflect on 2017 and re-energize myself for 2018.  The time with these girls made me laugh and fed my soul. The slower pace and lack of demands brought reflection and rejuvenation. I got out from under the “OMG it’s January 12, and I’m already behind!” I was ready to go!

My advice to you: If you raced into 2018 without a chance to reflect, to set a few well-thought goals and determine how to measure your progress, it is not too late. You need not wait until 2019 to hit the reset button. Carve out a few hours, breathe and be intentional about what you want to accomplish this year. Put it in writing and break it into chunks.

You can always start your new year on February 1.

If you would like help setting and achieving your 2018 goals, I’m here to help!


Navigating Difficult People with Grace and Ease

EVERYONE deals with someone that they don’t like in the workplace from time to time. For some, it’s all the time. Whether it be the client who always has an “emergency,” the boss who is on a mood swing pendulum, or the colleague who is making a career out of self-promotion, these relationships can raise our blood pressure while simultaneously zapping our energy. If we let them.

Early on in my career, I had a colleague who I’ll call Fred.  Fred monopolized every meeting and promoted his “good works” incessantly. Also, he always had stains on his shirt, and for some odd reason, carried his printer EVERYWHERE (or so it seemed). I have no idea why. What I did know is that this confluence of personality traits and attributes ANNOYED ME TO NO END. What I didn’t realize was that I was making a hobby of being irritated by him, and, in so doing, was wasting precious energy.

In dealing with difficult people, we do our best when we remember that we can’t control the other person’s behaviors. We CAN control how WE show up and how WE respond.

Some tips for making it better:

1.       DON’T PROJECT—take the Fred example. When Fred would sent me an email, I was annoyed before I even opened the message. If you find yourself assuming a message from (INSERT NAME HERE) means “more work,” “bad news,” or the like, stop yourself. You are projecting. It could be a message that says “thanks for the help” or “happy birthday.” You can’t know until you open the message, so don’t waste energy getting annoyed.

2.       SHOW UP FROM A PLACE OF NEUTRAL—if you have a meeting or engagement with this person, get your head in a neutral state before you do so. Whether it’s a quick meditation, reading something that makes you laugh, or just taking a couple of moments to BREATHE, do it. And don’t tell yourself that you don’t have time. If you needed the bathroom first, you’d take time for that, right?

3.       THINK OF 3 POSITIVE THINGS ABOUT THE PERSON—empathy is a powerful tool. If you find your blood pressure beginning to rise, try this. You will feel yourself calm down immediately, and you’ll be in a much place to interact.

4.       LOOK FOR COMMON GROUND—on some level, you have some common goals, yes? You may not agree on the best way to get there, but remembering the end goal will help you to weed through.

5.       “THANK YOU, FOR YOU ARE MY TEACHER.” I learned this from my own coach, Regan. It has served me very well in the most trying of moments. If nothing else, the difficult person is teaching you what you DON’T want to do. Or be. And that is a reason to feel gratitude.


Fear of Failure or Potential for Greatness?

Potential for Greatness or Fear of Failure?

This was a big week for the Schmitt family. My daughter, Allison, who began taking horseback riding lessons in September, moved off the lunge line and to full control of the reigns. (Note for those with less equine knowledge: up until now, her teacher had the horse on a twenty-foot rope when Allison rode—a safety net of sorts). In this first “free reign” lesson (pun intended), she executed flawlessly.

Remembering that animals, especially horses, can “smell fear,” I asked Allison if she had been scared for this big jump. She told me no; she knew this to be the first big step and that she was ready to do it. It’s no coincidence that her absence of fear played a huge role in her success.

Allison’s story is not unique. There is a lesson that can be applied each time we take a new step, speak up boldly in a meeting, or otherwise approach “uncharted waters.”

I remember a mentor once telling me that people are primarily motivated by fear of failure OR potential for greatness. Fear of failure can be a great motivator, but it can only get you so far. Potential for greatness knows no limits. Allison approached free reigns with the confidence that she could succeed, rather than letting the fear of the “what if’s” enter her mind.

I think about this within the context of presentations that I have conducted over the years and the difference that it makes. Many times, I would think about things like “what if I forget what I was going to say?” or “what if they don’t laugh at my joke?”  Now true, major disaster never ensued in these cases.  However, once I could let that all go and focus on what I wanted the customer to think and feel rather than what I was going to say, it made a HUGE difference. A huge difference in my energy, in the audience’s level of engagement, and in the smiles and nods.

Failures are episodic. We fall, we get back up, we move on. Greatness is an aspiration. The potential for greatness is ongoing and sustainable. And it’s a much better place to live.   


Let's get started!

Welcome to 2017 and to THRIVE!

When I think of my reasons for embarking on this new adventure, I think of the parts that I have loved about being a sales leader: the coaching, the team-building, the clearing away of the barriers to success and the helping people build the bridges to get there. Now, I’m creating the reality where I get to do all of the things that I love. ALL. DAY. LONG. Through that I THRIVE.

Over the past two decades, I was lucky enough to acquire several “top performer” and “manager of the year” awards. The recognition was awesome, of course, but not nearly as rewarding as the thrill of seeing my entire team walk across the stage after achieving THEIR goals. That’s how I’m wired and how I lead. My driving force is my work with the customer, the sales rep, or the team, to reach THEIR individual goals, and ultimately, create the reality where they could flourish. I am successful only if those who I serve achieve success, however that might look. And that’s what we’re going to do at Thrive to Lead.  I want to take what I have learned from many wonderful teachers, as well my successes and mistakes in building sales teams over the years. I will bring that knowledge, experience and passion to sales teams and leaders. We will set the goals, execute, and create a reality where those who I serve will THRIVE. Let’s get started!