Quote of the day
Quote of the day

The Fourth Step and Leadership

I was talking with a client yesterday about her doing her fourth step. For those of you who may not be familiar, Alcoholic Anonymous is what is called a 12 step program because people in recovery need to proceed through twelve steps according to AA. Many people abstinent from alcohol never do their twelve steps and they continue with the same nutty behavior even though they are abstinent. These folks are referred to as "dry drunks".

The fourth step is to do a "fearless moral inventory" of all the people who were harmed by the drinking. My client asked me what this is about and how she should do it. She is working on this with a friend.

As we discussed the reason for doing a fourth step, it dawned on me that people who don't do a fourth step are still in denial. The still have not recognized, let alone acknowledged, the harm that was done by the drinking. We call alcoholism a "family disease" because more people are effected than just the person doing the drinking. Every person that drinking person is in relationship with is effected in some way, and even people who are in relationship with a person who is in relationship with a person who is drinking can be effected such as children of a mother who is married to a husband who drinks. She is upset by her husband's drinking and so is in a bad mood in caring for her kids.

At any rate doing a fourth step can be a very powerful learning and transformative experience in one's life.

I have been wanting to write about leadership because I see things going on in politics and in life in other areas that can't be explained by surface facts. There are hidden dynamics that are influencing events and being a curious person I want to know about the hidden agendas and the hidden facts. That's probably why I enjoy being a therapist.

So as I was talking with this woman about doing her fourth step, I got to thinking about the President's and the Vice President's alcoholism. President Bush says he never got any treatment for his alcoholism or his drug problem, but rather found God, and took up jogging. Is it accurate to think he never did a fourth step? This would explain his denial of any mistakes or culpability at his last press conference where several reporters asked him repeatedly whether he had any regrets or felt he or his administration had made any mistakes on his foriegn policy. He said he couldn't think of any, which in my mind is a scary answer, and indicates to me a man either in denial or scared to face reality.

So I continue to wonder what behavioral health has to do with leadership? Is it possible for a person to be a good leader who is not mentally healthy? We have President Clinton who got involved sexually with an intern and then lied about it, and now President Bush who leads a nation to war on false pretenses. Both men have their demons: one a sexual addiction, and the other a chemical addiction. Perhaps we should only choose leaders who are in recovery who have done their fourth step.


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