“Smooth seas do not make for skilled sailors.” ~African Proverb
I stand on the quarterdeck; the crews’ eyes upon me. I stand calmly, hands behind my back, bicorn hat secure, water dripping off my perfectly tailored frock. The storm rages. The waters churn into an unpredictable maelstrom. My body sways in tune with the movement of the sea as I scan the horizon and assess our current predicament. Automatically, I scroll through a checklist of questions.
Is the ship in danger? No. The boat handles marvelously, a fine craft built for these conditions. She felt solid, stable under my feet.
What is the magnitude of this storm? Difficult to predict. I haven’t seen anything like this, but she’s full of eddies and the occasional rogue wave.
Does any crew member face immediate peril? Possibly, but they are equipped. I trust them to manage their risk while they handle their own tasks.
How’s morale? So far, so good. We are a proven, seaworthy lot and take pride in our seasoned, impeccable skills. I gaze down upon the main deck.
“Steady as she goes.”
Even with some internal trepidation, the command resounds clearly, confidently. The crew responds in kind. Do they sense the surge of energy just under my skin; the electricity thrumming through my nervous system?
Time will tell, but I hope not.
We have a mission to attend to; continue we must.
March 2020 tested my captaincy. I feel the African Proverb applies to CCAR’s current situation as we navigate through the COVID storm. The waters churn, the environmental conditions elevate stress in our entire crew, myself included. We have not traveled through anything like this before, yet I’m confident we will get by. I observe the CCAR staff welcoming the challenge, rising to the occasion and exceeding all expectations. Proud, I am.
Personally, I must remain teachable. Without learning, I cease to grow. Plenty of opportunities exist in stormy seas to learn, to examine beliefs and to test leadership. If I remember these concepts, I succeed.
- Remain calm.
- Trust my experience.
- Trust others.
- Be of service.
- Stay optimistic.
Recovery coaches often sail into a recoveree’s storm. Remain calm. Trust your experience. Trust others. Be of service. Stay optimistic.
This too shall pass.
In 2015, I finished a thruhike of the entire Appalachian Trail, a trek of 2,189.2 miles. It took 189 days and 6 pairs of boots. During that sacred time, my purpose in life became more precisely defined. I am, simply, to coach recovery. Recovery saved me from an early demise and brought purpose to my tattered life. I have learned that I’m a coach to my very core. I am blessed to put the two together. I started work at the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR) in January 1999. I became the Executive Director of this recovery community organization in 2004. I have trained the CCAR Recovery Coach Academy© dozens of times and have a hand in modifying, improving and adapting various recovery coach curricula. I’m old enough now to start considering my legacy. This is one way for me to share lessons learned in my recovery, in my role as Executive Director and a trainer. When I engage with others, I present the same messages repeatedly. It’s time to write them down.
Phil “Right Click” Valentine
Recovery established 12.28.87