At the church where I belong and work we have arguably one of the largest faith-based recovery group in the country…
On average over 300 people come to “Lifelines” every week on Fridays for what, those familiar with the 12-steps, would call a “meeting.”
Partially this is because our city, Costa Mesa, is one of the national capitols for group homes, recovery organizations, sober living institutes and treatment centers.
It’s also because our church (and our Lifelines Director!) have done an incredible job of welcoming people and developing people who are looking to turn their lives around.
But my point is not to toot our own horn here. My point is to speak about recovery from a general learning stance and how I firmly believe the 12-steps are a necessary work for every person, definitely every leader.
And rather than unpack all 12 steps, there is one that I wish to focus on… step #4:
We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
I find myself utterly fixated on the beauty and power of this statement. I love this statement and the potential that working the 12-steps carries for several reasons… I figure I will just list them and let you decide:
- First, I just like the word… recovery. It suggests something about our mutual state. That truly all of us from birth are in the midst of recovering from a harsh entry and ensuing reality. Whether you were raised in a perfect cookie-cutter home or your life was total chaos-everyone’s in it… just very few admit it.
- After having met dozens of people in recovery, those working the steps, I am convinced that they are literally a cut above the average person-BECAUSE they have agreed to undergo this process. Now whether they fail or succeed-I don’t know. But I don’t care… because how many of you would say yes to that step listed up there?!
- I love all the steps and the process as a whole because it means asking questions and processing things that the average person could go their whole lives and never grow through. One could just sit at work, staring at a computer screen everyday for 8 hours for the rest of your life and never change, grow, evolve.
- The steps are not about “SELF-improvement”… the program places chief emphasis on two big ideas: 1, a higher power and; 2, community. The first step is declaring powerlessness, the second?… It’s that someone else has the power (i.e. God). And the program takes special utilization of the word “we”… why? Because the founders new the power of accountability and fellowship in the face of foolish isolation.
- I love people who have agreed to treatment and the 12-steps because they have submitted: “I have a problem and I want to get better.” In short, these people are honest. I just think so few of the rest of us would dare to be so bold. Yeah, so you’re not addicted to booze or heroin-so what. What about that anger problem… that passive aggressive streak… that fear… that anxiety… that unresolved issue… are you even a little bit interested in how you got there and how you might change or learn from it?!
- Now on to this particular step. I love it because it’s ruthless. It says: ‘rip through me… the moments, the memories, the scars, wounds and brokenness… so I might wake up to the realities around me’
- In step #4 you’re literally supposed to take an event or circumstance then break it down into: effects; feelings and finally; self-examination. GOD, HOW PAINFUL IS THAT?! I mean how many of us seriously and completely ever even go down that road?!
If you’ve ever thought: “man, maybe I need therapy or counseling” then look no further than the the 12-steps. All you need is a book and a mentor/someone to facilitate (and they do NOT have to be a paid professional-that’s the beauty).
I’ve said it before, but one of the things I believe that makes a truly great leader is self-awareness… the 12 steps is merely a tool to take that point to a whole other brutal level.
It is a brutal experiment but it’s a WORTHY brutal experiment because it leads to growth. And growth leads to new life.
That’s the beauty of self-awareness: it’s honest, introspective, surgical BUT doesn’t end there. All of that should lead to decisions, action and progress.
I’ll put it to you like this: if you’re a leader and you haven’t committed to this discipline either daily in a small way or generally in a systematic way then you’ve skipped one of the great and mandatory “passages” of leadership. AND you will never fully reach your potential NOR can the organizations/people you lead until you do.
To use one of the MANY great AA credos I’ve heard over the years, “you can save face or save your ass.” In other words: you can keep faking it, remaining “surface level” or you can change and grow.
What will you chose to do… today, in your relationships… your workplace… your family… your cringe-worthy habits…?