Breaking Through Resistance: Reset And Step Into The Next Level With Deborah Gardner

Penny ZenkerTake Back Time Podcast

TBT Deborah Gardner | Break Through Resistance


Sometimes, what keeps us from living the life we want is the resistance we allow ourselves to take root within us. And they can come from pain, uncertainty, and grind. These are the three things Deborah Gardner has identified that everyone has to deal with. In this episode, she joins Penny Zenker to share how we can break through resistance, so we can move forward. Deborah is a swimming champion, author, speaker, competitive performance expert, and Certified Meeting Professional. With all these titles under her belt, she shows how much we can all have if we just learn how to step out of what is keeping us safe, small, and from growing. Follow along to this great conversation as you learn how to reset by practicing how to break through resistance. Clear away the fear, doubts, and distractions. Step into your next level.

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Breaking Through Resistance: Reset And Step Into The Next Level With Deborah Gardner

I’m always looking to bring you interesting diverse people, and this episode is no exception. I’m writing a new book, for everybody who doesn’t know that. I haven’t talked about it on my show. It’s themed around my reset framework, reset moments, reset practice, and reset mindset. We’re going to talk a little reset with Deb Gardner. I am so excited to have her here. I am so fortunate that we shared the stage at a conference. We were able to see each other speak, and it was fantastic. She’s got so much energy. She’s so funny. I know you guys are going to love her here.

She is a Certified Meeting Professional. She’s a recipient and one of only seven CMP speakers globally, who has received this prestigious credential. She is also a Meetings Mean Business Ambassador. She is the most requested speaker by Meeting Professional International, and on and on. She has accolades, and not only that but she’s got an incredible story. Without further ado, Deb, welcome to the show.

Thank you, Penny. I am excited to be here. I appreciate it.

My pleasure. We share a theme. You talked about resistance as a big thing. There’s a lot of connection between resistance and my talk around reset. When you talk about resistance, what’s the challenge and how do we connect the two? Maybe that’s way too much to throw on you as a question. You’re talking about resistance, so let’s start there and understand what is our challenge with resistance.

You’re right, it is general. We can go in so many different directions. I look at resistance as something that we all have to deal with day in and day out. There are three things that everyone has to deal with. No matter what role, title, or position you have, if you’re a celebrity or whatever, there are three areas. Those are pain, uncertainty, and grind.

Those are the three areas that everybody has to deal with day in and day out. Because of that, resistance builds from it, which is the cause of fear, anxiety, stress, burnout, being overwhelmed, and being stuck. That resistance is what we have to deal with. It’s not something that we have a tendency to focus on. My purpose is to bring this to the surface so people can understand what resistance is and how to reset themselves so that they can move forward. You’re right, we complement one another purposely, and it makes a lot of sense. Resistance is a big challenge.

You framed everything, these major changes being stuck and all of these things, around the lens that we look at it through, “Where’s the resistance?” If we would let go of the resistance, then we’d be able to break through. That makes total sense to me. When you say it like that and if we can determine where the resistance is, then we’ll be able to flow much more quickly. I know you have a personal story behind that, so why don’t we share with the audience where does that come from?

We always look back to our past. All the way to my childhood, resistance for me as far back as I can remember, I was in ninth grade. I remember wanting to be very successful. I knew the term success at a very young age. I just didn’t know how to get there. I would take risks. I would try certain things, different things to make myself stand out. That is something we are always trying to accomplish.

In ninth grade, I remember wearing go-go boots to school, and I thought, “This is going to help me stand out.” Plus, I love go-go boots because I used to listen to Nancy Sinatra and Aretha Franklin music. I love that kind of music. I wore these white go-go boots to class. My friends, my acquaintances, and young kids all loved it, watching me walk down the hall in my go-go boots, yet there was resistance from some girls, which we call mean girls who did not like my go-go boots. They showed me that they didn’t like my go-go boots because, after school, they met me in the parking lot and pretty much told me where to take those go-go boots. They pushed me to the ground, bullied me, kicked dirt over my boots, and told me never to wear those boots again.

From there, that’s when I first realized, “This is resistance. This is something I have to deal with probably in my life.” It devastated me because, to this day, I think about that particular day and how it changed me. Ever since then, I’ve realized that there are a lot of other types of resistance out there that I’m dealing with, but that was my first experience.

People are not always going to accept us, our ideas, and our leadership, whatever the case might be.

It could be at work, at home, with family, with strangers, in situations, or in circumstances. Look what we’re going through with the world. That’s even resistance, and how to handle that is key. We bring resistance into our life all the time as well, which is the ironic side of it. We’re trying to get away from resistance, but we keep bringing it in.

We're trying to get away from resistance, but we keep bringing it in. Share on X

Let me give you an example. I do a lot of competitive swimming since I was a little girl. If you think about your audiences out there that are probably thinking swimming is what most people like to do, and maybe they do it themselves or maybe they know of somebody in their family or friends that do swimming, in the swimming world, when we dive into a pool, no matter what size or shape it is, immediately we hit resistance.

When I swim in a 50-meter Olympic size pool, there are over 660,000 gallons of water in that pool. That’s a lot of resistance, yet swimmers keep diving in. They keep diving toward it, including myself, looking for the greatest impact with the least resistance in order to increase our speed so that we can win races. Even though we try to get resistance out of our lives, we also seem to head toward it as well.

We take on the challenge as a swimmer, a diver, or almost any sport that goes against the wind. You can liken it to that competitive spirit or that drive that has us go through resistance and uncomfortable things to get to the other side. The only way that we can excel and get to the next level is to break through that resistance, comfort zone, or whatever we want to call it that is keeping us safe, small, and from growing.

You hit it on the nail. You were spot on about that because a lot of people will look at resistance as a negative. To me, resistance is not the enemy. It’s not at all. Comfort is. Being comfortable and complacent. That is even more dangerous to be in the line of fire there.

I want to interrupt you because I want to say something to that, especially for the audience. I believe that complacency is one of our biggest threats to the future. Some people talk about AI. I think complacency is the absolute biggest threat to our future and innovation because we’ve got so many things that are done for us. We are so comfortable and so distracted by meaningless things that leave us in this place of learned helplessness. That is the biggest threat to our future.

Spot on. I totally agree with you. That’s why we have to be very aware of our surroundings and how we’re reaching our goals. I call it the iconic mindset. You have to have this mindset that without you moving forward, nothing is going to get accomplished. I’m all about you don’t have to change who you are, but instead, become more of who you are. I believe that. How do you do that? You have to take action. You have to keep yourself moving.

We’re in the reset part.

This is the reset part. The purpose of reset to me is all about clearing away any fears and any doubts about yourself and bringing in a system that works for you so that you can get to what are normal conditions for yourself in a more controlled manner. Resetting is so refreshing. It’s a refreshing situation where you can have a clean slate, a clear mind, away from any type of distractions, and just say, “I’m going to reset and move forward from there.”

There are people reading and are like, “That sounds all well and good, but how do I do that? Yes, I want to get past this fear and this anxiousness, but I can’t.” What’s a strategy that can help them when they’re in that place of fear or not taking action and they’re procrastinating? How do they do that?

This is why reset and resistance are so complementary with each other because, from the professional side of swimming that I’ve done, I’ve been able to discover through firsthand experience of swimming that I’ve developed an exclusive process called the streamline method. This method allows you to get unstuck. It allows you to conquer your fears. It allows you to not stress out as long as you follow that method. It’s only a three-part method too.

TBT Deborah Gardner | Break Through Resistance

Break Through Resistance: The streamline method allows you to get unstuck. It allows you to conquer your fears. It allows you to not stress out.


It doesn’t need to be complex. You just need to do it.

Not at all. That is what I call step, feedback, and respond. If you take the step to find out who you are as far as your authentic voice and your authentic self, you’ll be able to take that first step. A lot of times people will say, “I’ll plan. I’ll think about it, then I’ll plan again.” Before you know it, they’re not taking the first step.

They’re overplanning.

It’s not so much about how to take that step because you’re trying to plan. It’s what allows you to take that step. What allows you to take that step is where the motivation is. You have to be motivated before taking action. A lot of people think it’s the other way around. No. You have to be motivated. The only way to motivate yourself is to discover your core strength. It’s about knowing your worth. It’s about your value area that’s important.

Once you know that core strength, you’re going to be able to take that first step because you’re going to be more motivated to do that. I could go deeper into it, but once you take that first step with your core strength that you’re going to feel more comfortable with, then it’s a matter of asking people for help. This is something that’s very hard for women to do because we all want to fix it ourselves. We’re the ones that are always helping others. If you get help, ask for help, or ask for feedback, whatever that might look like, you’re going to get different perspectives. You’re going to get other brilliant minds to be involved instead of feeling like you’re taking this journey by yourself.

The best part is when you get to respond to all of that. Once you gather all that information that allows you to move your goals or your journey forward, the respond part is about implementing it and doing it. Besides, “Step, feedback, and respond,” I have this, “See it, be it, do it” as another term as well. That to me is the simplest way to take action, move forward, and reset.

How did that come from swimming? Let me hear the background of that story.

Each part of that comes from the swimming world. The streamline method is considered the fifth stroke. Streamlining is the fifth stroke of swimming. It used to be four. If any swimmers out there probably know the four, they’re butterfly, backstroke, breast, and free, but now we have a fifth called streamlining. The streamline applies to all four of the other strokes as well.

Let’s say the past Olympics, which is where it was used and introduced. When swimmers dive off the block, what they’re doing is they are going to a certain depth under the water where they can find these air pockets. It allows them to move faster, more efficient, and more effective before they have to come up to the surface to swim the actual stroke. Because of that, they’ve been able to break their times, they’re breaking records and a lot happier coaches. Everybody wins. That’s where the streamline method comes from.

How do those steps fit into that? Is that just the name that you’re using, or do the steps fit into that as well?

It does. It not only fits in the swimming world but in business life and your personal life because the steps have to do with the core strength. Our core strength comes from right where our gut is. Sometimes we don’t listen to our gut good enough. You’ve heard that saying, “I should’ve listened to my gut.” We should have because that’s what we do as swimmers. We have to listen to our core strength, which is right in our gut area. That’s what allows us to move our arms and legs and when to breathe.

TBT Deborah Gardner | Break Through Resistance

Break Through Resistance: Our core strength comes from right where our gut is. Sometimes we don’t listen to our gut well enough.


It’s that intuition you get to follow to make the steps. The feedback part for us is all about coaching. We listen to our coaches and trainers. Sometimes we have to listen to our family and friends after they’ve seen us swim in a meet. That’s good. Having a coach is important because that’s where your feedback is, but you also have to remember to ask questions along the way. The respond is that’s where you do it. You just dive in. By then, all your butterflies go away, and you’re just swimming your own race and moving forward.

Let me ask you a couple of questions that I ask a lot of guests. What would you say is your definition of productivity and why?

I’m glad you asked because I just was halfway through your book.

The Productivity Zone?

Yes, I was halfway through it. It’s brilliant, by the way. Productivity to me is where you know signs that allow you to move forward. That’s when you’re going to be productive. You’ve got to be cognizant of your signs of burnout, when you’re abandoning your goals, or when you feel stuck or helpless. Even when you’re moving forward and you stop, but then you don’t move forward anymore, you’re not being productive. I believe that you have to know what that feels like.

Productivity is where you know the signs that allow you to move forward. Share on X

Sometimes you have to delete or let go of things. Sometimes on our cell phones, we have to weed out all the contacts of the people that we don’t deal with. Sometimes you have to do that, but at the same time, you have to let go of anything that doesn’t make you happy, doesn’t serve you, doesn’t inspire you, or allow you to grow more.

It takes up space and creates resistance. Believe it or not, all of that stuff and clutters, whatever the clutter may be, whether it’s in your contacts, in your kitchen, or your relationships, it all does create resistance and keeps you from moving forward.

It does. If you’re going to be productive, you are going to know you were productive because it is a great feeling. My husband’s gone traveling. I thought, “One thing I’m going to do is I’m going to clean my clothes closet.” I put everything out on the bed. I took everything out and did one by one back in. I’m like, “This is so refreshing. I can actually see my shoes, my skirts, and my blouses for a change.” It’s such a wonderful feeling, but you have to be focused to get it done. One thing at a time.

It does feel good when we make progress toward even those little things that we haven’t been doing and have set aside. It takes up energy every time we look at it. Probably every time you look at your closet, you’re like, “I got to do this.” It’s amazing when you do it. I had a light bulb that was out for a long time, and I finally did it. I feel so good. Thank God there’s light there. It’s the little things.

It’s so true.

Anyway, what didn’t I ask you yet that you feel is important to bring to the attention of the audience?

Most of all, people need to realize that pain, uncertainty, and grind is part of our life. It’s not something that you can wipe clean and it’s going to go away. It’s a matter of how you handle it. Visualization is key. If you start your day out visualizing what your day looks like, I know you’d be completely surprised at how you can control that process, control your mind, and control your attitude. It will remind you that, “This is how I visualize my day.” Some people have vision boards. They need to actually see it instead of in the mind. That is a great process too. The productivity zone, like the name of your book, is key. If you can start your day out visualizing, it’s so powerful.

You’re talking about your own background in athletics. Every major champion that you talked to has a visualization process. I’ve heard many times that he’d put in the videotape of him doing that perfect stroke.

They’re great role models to watch and to learn from if no one knows how to do it. We can see all of this on YouTube in particular with interviews that they’ve done and everything. I watch that. It’s so inspiring for my own life.

I love the fact that in those three points, you’ve got grind. So many people are focused on the uncertainty, which is important that you have there, and the change in those aspects. Nobody’s talking about the grind, the day-to-day getting stuff that has to get done. It might be boring, it might require discipline, and it might just be all of that stuff, but I love that. It struck me to understand that that’s part of it. It’s how you respond to it. You can get frustrated with it. You can resist it. You can do all of these things that take up energy and waste energy, or you can get on with it and find the best way to get it done.

I loved what you said at the women’s conference where I got a chance to meet you. I believe you were talking about the 80/20 rule. What resonated with me was, usually, it’s the 80% that you focus on, but yet you were saying, “Let’s focus on the 20%.” When you said that, I feel so much more relaxed because I’m always focused on the 80%. If you focus on what’s important to you on the 20% and go from there, you’re going to get a lot more done than to be overwhelmed with the 80%. I appreciated that.

Thank you. I took a lot of notes during your session, too, and a lot of these points that you’re bringing across are super valuable for the audience. Where do they find more information about you, your books, and your work?

Thank you. I appreciate that. I would love very much to connect with your audience. I’m on every social media platform. That definitely is a great place. My website, My email, I would love more than anything to hear what other people are experiencing out there because we’re all here in it together.

Deborah, thank you so much for being here and sharing your words of wisdom.

It was an absolute pleasure for me. I’m delighted that I have the opportunity to meet you. You are fantastic, brilliant, and talented. I’m sure that all your audiences see that too. Thank you so much. It’s a delight to be here.

Thank you. I only have people that are equally as brilliant and why. It takes one to know one.

In the pageant world, it’s all about helping each other adjust our crowns. I love that saying because it takes a little tweak and a little help somewhere between people. You’ll make a big difference in people’s lives.

Thank you so much. Thank you all for being here because you are the core of the show. It’s important that you are getting those adjustments of your crown and that you’re able to get those little tips and tricks that you need so that you can be better every day. What’s important is that you took away something from this or every episode that makes your life a little bit better, a little bit easier, and a little less stressful. It allows you to take a bigger step forward and allows you to more effortlessly move toward your goals. At the end of the day, that’s what productivity is. It’s creating that progress.

Thank you for being here. Make sure that you subscribe. If you haven’t written a review, I’d love for you to do that. I’ve never asked before, but why not ask now? Go ahead and do that. I’d love to hear back from you. If there are any topics that you want to hear about, do let me know over social media or message me directly. We’ll see you in the next episode.


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About Deborah Gardner

TBT Deborah Gardner | Break Through ResistanceA swimming champion, author, speaker & competitive performance expert, Deborah G helps hundreds of businesses advance to new levels of success while working and living in the fast lane. Whether her audience is servicing customers, selling, negotiating, or leading, Deborah’s rising to international prominence with a captivating style.

Deborah’s competitive practice comes from living in the fast lane; being a Marine Brat to growing up in a small 16 foot trailer, a real life wedding crasher to an Olympic Trial swimmer, a ground-breaking leader as one of the first female broadcasters with CBS Sports and a longtime hospitality sales veteran (better known as a “Triple Threat” due to her substantial experience as a supplier, speaker and meeting professional) and today, Deborah is the voice of business meetings and events as the host for the newly popular “HOSPITALITY TODAY LIVE” streaming video show.

Deborah is a Certified Meeting Professional recipient and one of only seven CMP speakers globally, who has received this prestige credential. She is also a “Meetings Mean Business” ambassador, the most requested speaker by Meeting Professional International, and was voted as one of the best speakers heard by Meetings & Convention Magazine. Additionally, she is Event Industry Council’s Top 30 Influential Meeting Professionals and a Smart Meetings Magazine’s Top 50 Smart Women Leaders, Meetings Today Top 20 Trendsetters That Made a Difference in 2021, CNN’s Top 75 Keynote Speakers Worldwide, Founder of the recently announced International Hospitality Women’s Day and crowed Mrs. Arizona 2020/2021 & Mrs. America 2021/2022.

Whether keynoting or consulting, Deborah believes in mastering her craft on the platform by doing television commercial work as an actor, conducting voice-overs and runway modeling. Deborah lives in Arizona with her husband, Jerry and her rambunctious lover boy, Bear, the dog.


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