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Treatment Center CEO Mattea Schmitz Shares 5 Tips For Success in Recovery

With 23 million people living in long-term recovery from addiction, inspiring stories of recovery can be found everywhere. In fact, you won’t find a community without them. One of these stories is found in Rochester, Minnesota. Mattea Schmitz is a person in long-term recovery from addiction and the CEO of Common Ground, a regional treatment center in Southeast Minnesota.

Her story is as inspiring as they come.

After getting sober at age 24, she landed a job at the same treatment center she had attended a few years prior – Common Ground. One thing led to another and she was promoted to be the Director of Operations, leading the organization on a day-to-day basis. Finally, in 2015, Mattea purchased the company and is now the acting CEO of the same place that helped her get sober nearly 11 years ago.

I told you she was inspiring!

5 Principles for Success in Life, Recovery, and Career

I sat down with Mattea to learn more about her inspiring story of success and how she used the principles of recovery along the way. Though she shares it wasn’t always easy, her story shows us that with perseverance and a commitment to recovery, you can truly do anything you set your mind to.

According to Mattea, here are the 5 principles that contributed to her success in life, recovery and her career:

  • Principle #1 – Mentorship
    “I got sober when I was 24. I was tired of being on the run from both the law and myself. I wanted to live my life to the fullest, not die because of addiction. So, I accepted the help I needed, went to treatment and got sober. I started going to meetings, which is where I met my sponsor. Working with her was one of the best decisions I ever made – she has been one of the most influential people I’ve ever met in my life.””Back then, I would call her every night at 7pm, per her request, and spent time with her during my free time, which ended up being almost every day with her and her family. When I was bored I went to her house, when I was hungry she fed me, and when I needed someone to talk she was there to listen. I needed to have her support as I was new in recovery, and I’ve continued to need the support of sponsors and mentors ever since. They provide insight and guidance when we need it most, whether that’s in your career or recovery. Sometimes, it can be the most valuable guidance you’ll receive and will lead to an important decision, conversation or moment in your life.”
  • Principle #2 – Community
    “My family was always a huge part of my recovery. Both of my parents are in long-term recovery and never gave up on me. They’ve been there for me every step of the way. They visited me in treatment, helped me navigate challenges, and gave me the moral support and love I needed throughout all of it.””Meetings were fun for me. I loved going and still attend today. I enjoy the fellowship and feeling I get when I go. After getting sober, I got very involved in meetings, going from the meeting chair to the treasurer, to the district representative, and eventually being the chair for one fellowship throughout the state of Minnesota. I took these responsibilities very seriously, and took pride in every single role. It gave me a purpose as I was rebuilding my life and growing my recovery.”

    “Today, I’ve learned to build that same kind of community with my employees at work – something I believe contributes to a healthy workplace and a culture that people want to be a part of, just like I experienced in recovery meetings.”

  • Principle #3 – Self-Awareness
    “Finding balance between ambition at work and focusing on recovery requires a lot of self-awareness. I had to be very cognizant of my life and drive. I had to make sure I was still going to recovery meetings and staying connected to friends in recovery.””And in becoming more self-aware, I’ve learned that I can’t do everything myself. I’ve had to learn to teach and delegate tasks to others, who might even be better at certain things than I am. This is one principle from recovery that’s critical in your career. Finding the courage to be self-aware and to take ownership of what you need to change isn’t always easy, but when you do, it can lead to better leadership and working relationships with your colleagues and employees.”
  • Principle #4 – Balance
    “When you’re in recovery and working in the field, it can start to get overwhelming. I was working with people in recovery on a daily basis, and then was going to after-hours recovery events or meetings.””After time, it got to be a lot. I started learning that I needed other healthy outlets in my life. As great as recovery is, I found other things like exercise, growing friendships with healthy people who weren’t in recovery, and learning new hobbies that made me happy all contributed to keeping me more balanced – which is important in recovery.”

    “This lesson helped me establish balance that I didn’t have right away, and gave me options when I needed to cope with stress, a hard day at work, or to just have fun.”

  • Principle #5 – Willingness
    “Becoming a business owner was exhilarating, but it was filled with emotions. I was scared I wouldn’t succeed, I was nervous about transitioning from a coworker to a boss, and felt inadequate in a lot of ways, even if I’d wanted to be a business owner my whole life.””Throughout the process, I had to be both confident in my abilities and patient with myself along the way. Results don’t happen when you force them to – it takes willingness to walk the journey. I had to remember what I’ve learned in recovery: things fall into place when I put in the work and do the next right thing.”

Mattea’s Practical Tips for People in Recovery

When it comes to practical tips for people in recovery to use in their career or in starting a business, Mattea offers the following advice:

  • Make sure to research the market you’re looking to start your business in.
  • Be patient, because everything will take time and will not happen the way you think it will.
  • Ask for help and take advice from others because you can’t do it all on your own.
  • Listen to your employees, because they’re the face of your business and work harder when they know they’re appreciated.
  • Most importantly, love what you do – it will help you find your purpose in life.

Based on Mattea’s story, it’s clear to see she’s found her purpose, evidenced by the passion and meaning she finds in the success of clients and the life-changing power of recovery.

“The most rewarding aspect of this work is seeing and hearing about clients who have gone through our program and are in long-term recovery today,” Mattea says. “I love hearing when people have built a healthy life free of alcohol and drugs and are healthy employees, community members, parents and friends today. It still gets me every time, and reminds me of why I’m doing this work.”


Images Courtesy of iStock

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