Earlier tonight I was in a place that I don’t like to be. I’ve been there many times and every time it makes me tighten up inside. I was in our team’s locker room after a tough loss. We lost to a team that was younger, smaller and based on talent had no business being in the same gym as us much less beat us on our home court!
As the players sat there frozen with looks of disbelief, frustration, anger and sadness, we coaches offered our thoughts (some more colorfully than others). As I left the locker room and walked out to my car on this very cold January night I realized that many of those players just don’t get it. They think they want to do the work to be a great team but they just don’t know what that looks like. Most of them have gotten by on talent alone and haven’t really had to work harder than they were comfortable working. Many quite frankly are choosing the easy way out. Many are saying the right things but their actions are not consistent with those words and promises.
In the pregame the head coach gave an analogy from his favorite movie: Rocky IV. But the players on the court tonight were not fearless warriors that relentlessly fought through adversity. They were afraid. They were afraid to make mistakes and afraid to do the little things that could have helped us win.
“There are no shortcuts. This is not a quick fix.”
This was told to me by a long time member of SA during my first-timer meeting. 5 men and 1 woman (none of whom knew me from Adam) volunteered on the spot to welcome me into SA. They all went around and shared their stories and told me how much they appreciated me coming. One man thanked me and said that I had reminded him what starting recovery is all about: a willingness to show up and work. As they shared I realized that many had been sober for several years. Yet they still came to 2 or 3 or 4 meetings a week! Damn. That is dedication.
All my life I was like my players. I just didn’t get it. I was clueless and even the times I had good intentions I was not willing to put in the work necessary to gain sobriety. I wanted to succeed but I wanted to do it in the quickest and easiest way possible. I am learning (gradually) that true recovery is a process just like losing weight, or training for a race, or making straight A’s or developing a winning team. It doesn’t happen overnight and there is not a quick fix.
Everyday when I drive to work in the morning I am reminded of society’s desire for a quick fix. The massive billboard displaying the powerball lottery amount is unavoidable. People that are alcoholics or drug addicts or sexaholics that are praying for sobriety but are not willing to do the steps or any kind of treatment are like people that think they will achieve their dreams by winning the lottery. It COULD happen I suppose but the odds are not in your favor. Not even close.
We told the players after our disappointing loss tonight that they need to go home, look in the mirror and ask themselves what they are willing to do to get better. My hope is that from here on out I will be able to look myself in the mirror confidently knowing that I am doing my very best in getting sober from my disease. My plan is to be relentless, live with integrity and humility, and work harder than I ever have before.