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Lay the groundwork for small miracles

by on
in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

Sometimes, it takes a miracle to hold an organization (or yourself) together, and sometimes, that miracle turns out to be extremely hard to maintain.

That’s the story behind Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and its co-founder, Bill Wilson. A desperate alcoholic, Wilson had dried out three times in a private New York hospital when a fellow drinker told him about an observation he had heard from the famous psychiatrist Carl Jung in Switzerland. Jung said the only thing he’d ever seen that worked against alcoholism was a religious conversion.

Wilson agreed with what Jung had said. Then one day, he had something of a religious experience himself, which catapulted him into a new consciousness and led to the creation of AA. Here are some of its main features:
  • Enlightened self-interest. Helping another person (a customer or teammate, if you will) is absolutely necessary if you want to help yourself and the organization.
  • Decentralization. Group consensus rules, so units can be small or large, meet early or late in the day, or focus on newcomers or long-timers; whatever their members want.
  • Anonymity. Yes, it provides cover, but it also plays a part in humility, which goes further in AA—and in leadership—than flamboyance.
  • Acceptance of responsibility. No excuses. No protesting that things aren’t fair or that you’ve been “scapegoated.” Before you can lead, you’ve got to grow up
— Adapted from “One Page at a Time,” David Von Drehle, The Washington Post.

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