Whether we are talking of financial markets and global economies, or political issues and developments, or social concerns and ideas…. we are, these days, seemingly and increasingly driven by a sense of urgency or immediacy. We want action and results, and we want it now; or we have given up hope of same because we have come to the conclusion, personally or even collectively, that “it just doesn’t happen”. Both urgency and apathy are born of the desire for immediacy. We want what we want and we want it now. Credit and financing is the birth child of same. Apathy too, because when we see that it doesn’t typically happen overnight, we far too often lose belief and hope that it can.
For me, the topic of addictions became a powerful conversation over the last 48 hours. There is much talk these days around ideas that addictions are not diseases but choices. Other schools of thought indicate otherwise. Personally, I find and contend that the discussion is not unlike whether Pluto is a planet or not. No offense meant but semantics it seems to me; just me. My personal and professional understanding and experience of what we consider to be addictions (whether disease or not) is that:
(a) they start with a single choice, to try something
(b) they result in some bio-chemical change of state that is “hard to beat”
So, it does indeed start with a choice. But that choice does not remain simple once started. The slippery slope is steep because it involves our body chemistry. Whether we are talking cocaine, ecstasy, alcohol, gambling, sugar or love, these things change our biochemical state and our body not only craves the feeling but wants increasingly more. You can call that a disease or not. We do know it is chronic; and chronic is long term. If I had a chronic cold, it would start to be considered somehow a disease. That all being said, the naming is not important. The understanding is.
So, if an addiction starts with a choice, but then changes our body chemistry in a way that makes the need arise, continue and strengthen, how do we “beat” it? Well, again hoping not to offend, we do not beat it with the chronic need for immediacy, itself an increasing addiction. We do not beat it once and for all. The cellular memory remains. We remember how it felt, even momentarily to have the substance of our addiction. That memory remains; and tempts us.
Those who I know and have known that have been successful in facing their addiction have not beaten it; for once you assume it dead, it is not unlike a Phoenix. The same goes for depression. It is there, waiting, ever patiently. What these remarkable people have done is gotten up each day, faced the music, had the dance, and took the lead. What they have done is that each time they stumbled, they practiced the mastery of the dance.
Those who really know me, know that I am a fan of the War of Art by Steven Pressfield. In it, and from my take, he speaks to the need to sharpen the blades daily and go to work. That is the creative process; and creativity is a work in progress. It is also a path through both pain and pleasure alike. To me, it is what Joe Calloway speaks of in addressing consistency of practice as a strategic strength. Indeed, my own past experience as a Trainer and Coach with Dale Carnegie Training® for 12 years reminded me of this too. It is about the track record. We build a track record of experience that reinforces both our skill and strength. We never actually complete the journey. Mastery is a life long process.
I have seen this in the people who have personally inspired me, whether in terms of their ability to ride the waves of business growth and build successful businesses over time and not overnight... or whether in the friends and colleagues who I have witnessed rise above personal challenges, including addictions, one day a time, one battle at a time.
So, where am I going? I have long been and continue to be a champion of the power of character, It is the soil and breeding ground for increased capacity. Increased capacity, in turn, results in greater creativity to find both inspiration and solution. If that is the case, we need to care for the soil, strengthen it. My work as a Master Facilitator with The Virtues Project™ and as The Unity Guy™ with Epic Engage… and my own personal and professional journey… has all taught me that character is strength and strength is character; and it does not happen overnight. You do not buy strength of character. You build it.
Yes, you build it. I grew up in a family business that centered around both masonry and relationship building. You do not build strong walls by rushing the brick work. You lay each brick, the next brick, with precision and care. If you do it right, it makes the laying of the next brick just a little easier. At times, you may even have epiphanies of great learning that significantly advance your bricklaying but you can never forget the fundamentals. And it is still one brick a a time. If you do that right, you build remarkable structure to your life that is true to you. I witnessed that true for building successful relationships too. The family business was built on relationship building and the building of trust. Long an admirer (since childhood) of Chinese culture and its powerful patience through history, I might suggest that the Chinese call it Guanxi .
So, bringing it back to addictions, character is the foundation of both capacity and creativity. Character is built not on immediacy or urgency. It is build on practice and mastery, turning failure into success, trial into triumph. It is built on understanding and accepting our vulnerability (thank you Brene Brown for this gift of acknowledgement). But, it is built… not won or achieved. It is earned.
If I was to leave with a thought (and I will) it is this. Consider the virtues as innate strengths within that are ready to be accessed. There are hundreds. Here are 100 alone. Think of them as acorns needing attention. Draw upon them. Practice them. Learn from their application. Choose your identity by practicing those you most desire. Honor your spirit by doing so. I choose to continuously draw upon nobility, wholeheartedness and zeal. How about you? Find those that will most help you build what I call your “Great Wall of Shining”. Find those that will help you build your daily battle amidst the challenges faced. Do not give up, neither assume the challenges have given up. It might seem like a tiring notion, but it is the real one. You can only do the best you can and you can only do it today.
Each day is a brick. lay it well. Tomorrow there will be another. Therein lies learning, mastery and character. Therein lies your capacity and creativity.. Therein lies your strength.
Peace, passion and prosperity… for the long run.
Barry Lewis Green, aka The Unity Guy™
If you would like a cool, funky and free poster of 101 virtues to draw upon, for your office, boardroom or bedroom (or any room)… email Nicole at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send you one. We love it and them, and rely on them through the trials and triumphs alike. Peace.