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To look at my resume, your first impression might be that I have an enviable corporate success story. Over 30 years of upward trajectory. A succession of increasingly powerful roles, and an income history that reflects my growing influence. Global assignments that allowed me to live and work in amazing places, helping thousands of individuals all over the world envision and then achieve their own potential.

But people who know me best know that I spent my days and years in deep fear.

About Susan Hero Image

To look at my resume, your first impression might be that I have an enviable corporate success story. Over 30 years of upward trajectory. A succession of increasingly powerful roles, and an income history that reflects my growing influence. Global assignments that allowed me to live and work in amazing places, helping thousands of individuals all over the world envision and then achieve their own potential.

But people who know me best know that I spent my days and years in deep fear.

I feared not being good enough. I feared the unpredictable anger of others. I feared being judged and misunderstood. I feared failing. I agonized over the possibility of not doing enough or saying the wrong things, or saying too much, being too just about anything and everything.

Most importantly, I looked to other people to validate me, to tell me I was okay. I wasn't capable of doing this for myself. I gave away my own power, often to people who didn't deserve it and whom I didn't respect. And through habits, hobbies, performance goals that demanded my full concentration, a series of masks, and even alcohol, I found ways to cope with my fears of not being good enough. And ignore the hard facts of my damaged past. I minimized my past as being "not that bad" and carried on in my efforts to gain approval and acceptance from others.

Until others saw and invited me to see for myself. I was lucky to have people around me to help me find my way and find the path to self-acceptance and greater joy.  It wasn’t until a moment at a retreat when the leader looked at the timeline of my life that I had just drawn and said,

“Wow. You’ve had a lot of trauma in your life.”

With that gift of truth, delivered in a kind, safe, non-judging environment, I began to see. Not only the trauma in my own life, and how it affects my relationships and decisions, but also the trauma and suffering of so many people around me.

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By learning how to accept myself and how my damaged past affected my self-esteem and beliefs about the world, I am learning to love life and my place in the world. And now I am crystal clear on my life’s purpose – helping others achieve joyful lives through the journey to self-acceptance.

Because of all my years working in major global corporations, I began to recognize the workplace as a great place to build up healing skills and insights and move beyond the limitations of my inner critical voice that taunted me for years that I was simply not good enough. Work is actually a great big experimental lab to practice learning new ways to respond to other people; to manage our fears and devastating self-talk; to rewrite our expectations of ourselves and others.

You know all those wounds you carry into your adult life from your painful childhood? The workplace is where you can begin your healing journey.

The rest of your life is yours.
I’m glad you’re here.

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Six Fun Facts You Won’t See on Any Resume

1.

Horses make me happy

I’ve been riding since I was 4 years old. And I still love the feeling of cantering, with the wind blowing through my hair and the sun on my face. It’s a kind of freedom that makes me feel very close to God.

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2.

I once had dinner with someone who would later be arrested for murder.

I got caught up in a business deal with a charismatic con man who tried to allay my suspicions by taking me out to a lovely, intimate, charming dinner. Even so, I was able to safely back out of the deal. That was before the FBI contacted me as a potential witness. They told me that his real purpose for that dinner was to “interview” me to see if I came from money. He was now being accused of murdering a candy heiress. The whole story would be later told on the TV show Unsolved Mysteries.

3.

I skied down a Black Diamond mountain in France when I really belonged on the bunny slope.

In my early twenties, I was studying abroad and living with a French family, with kids who were all expert skiers. I had only skied a few times before. But, not knowing what I was getting myself into, I didn’t let that stop me. I’ve never felt that kind of fear in my life since, especially when I had to turn my skis into the side of the mountain to avoid going off a cliff.

4.

My all-time favorite TV show is M*A*S*H but my secret favorite is the original Gong Show.

There’s nothing more to say about that, really. I consider it a precursor to America's Got Talent!

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5.

My water broke with my first son while I was on a business trip, 1,000 miles from home.

Since my husband at the time couldn’t get there in time for the delivery, my three co-workers (including one guy) argued amongst themselves about who would be my birth partner. The winner was my IT partner, a mother of two sons. To this day, whenever I’m speaking to an IT group, I tell them that story and reaffirm my commitment to IT, because, “you never know when you’re going to need them.” My first son, Joe, would be joined by Sam a few years later.

6.

I love ballroom dancing almost as much as I love horseback riding.

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It’s so much fun! It’s so joyful! It gets me out of my head. Just as with riding horses, especially in competition, it’s a wonderful place to practice letting go of perfectionism. With horses and with dancing, the more you go out and practice (even when you’re frozen in fear), the less of a grip it has over you. No matter what, you’re always trying to get to the next level of excellence.

That’s true with work, too. It’s all about learning to accept yourself as you focus on improving performance and learning how to appreciate the inner critical voice but to also slowly let it become only a whisper of  distant voice softly becoming more and more distant. I once worked with the famous performance coach Leigh Weinraub in an effort to improve my riding skills and let go of my performance anxiety about being perfect in the show ring. She told me, “I wish I could go with you to ten horse shows and tell you to just blow every course. And then you’ll come out of the ring and know that you are still loved.

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© 2019 Susan J. Schmitt

© 2019 Susan J. Schmitt