Recently I watched an ESPN special on football coaches Bill Belichick and Nick Saban and their storied coaching careers leading the New England Patriots and Alabama Crimson Tide.  They both operated from a very simple, but profound premise…. “Do Your Job”.  If each player on the team performed their job well on each and every play, the team succeeded.

In 2012, as the CCAR staff grew, we came to the same conclusion.  If each member of our team “did their job”, CCAR succeeded.  I wrote the following points to clarify our expectations about meeting the requirements of a job, then how to strive for excellence.

Not a stale document, we reviewed and discussed these at least once a year with the entire CCAR staff. New employees receive this document when they onboard.  At this month’s staff meeting, we explored and contemplated the concepts again.

Personally, I acknowledged I needed some help (#9 2nd section below). After 21 years of staving off an avalanche of email and requests for my time, I now asked for some assistance.

I believe the principles outlined below apply to anyone, however we geared them to people employed within a recovery community organization or as a recovery coach.  I understand that often recovery coaches are hired by organizations that don’t understand the role. Recovery coaches beware. It’s up to you to determine if the role is right for you. Ask good questions at the interview.  Once you accept the job, considered all the ramifications and accepted the position, you now represent the recovery community.  Strive for excellence.

Recently a young man talked about  being hired by a treatment provider under the title of Recovery Coach, however he soon assumed responsibilities of an outreach worker. He took the job because he needed it; his family desperate for the income. He worked with the homeless and encouraged those suffering from addiction to seek help.  However, when he had the audacity to drive an overdosed young man to the emergency department, they fired him for violation of the agency’s transportation policy. He found another job more in line with his personal beliefs. He thrives now.  And he excels.

As the recovery coach profession grows, it’s vital we conduct ourselves RIGHT.  Consider your own personal influence. How am I contributing to the recovery movement? What’s my influence on the organizational culture to which I belong? You are either contributing positively or negatively, there is no neutral.

The following concepts have endured the test of time so far, requiring only a few minor updates. Here they are.

What do I expect from staff to meet requirements? 

  1. Know your job. Review the job description and performance appraisal and do what is required.
    • (Hopefully your employer has complete job descriptions and your performance is appraised annually).  
  2. Know the Personnel Policies & Procedures. Abide by them.
    • (When was the last time you reviewed your Personnel Policies? Again, hopefully, you work for an organization that has them).  
  3. Appreciate our organizational culture. Know CCAR’s six foundational principles.
  4. Understand and heed personal boundaries with staff, volunteers and recoverees.
  5. Review our vision and mission regularly.
  6. Be punctual. Work when you’re supposed to work.  Manage your time well.
  7. Be accountable for your time. Use the Outlook calendar. Share it.
  8. Meet all required deadlines.
  9. Be honest.
  10. Work well with your supervisor. Respect the organizational hierarchy.
  11. Refrain from gossip.
  12. Be culturally humble.
  13. Have proper telephone etiquette. “Thank you for calling CCAR, how may I help you?”
  14. Use proper email etiquette.
  15. Be polite, courteous and respectful at all times while working.
  16. Practice self-control.
  17. Keep your work environment clean.
  18. Dress appropriately – crisp, casual business attire is always suitable.
  19. Solve your own problems whenever possible.
  20. Take initiative. Be a self-starter.

What does it mean to exceed standards or in other words, achieve excellence? 

  1. Exceed your goals.
  2. Do more than is required. Go the extra mile.  Go “above and beyond”.
  3. Maintain the attitude of gratitude.
  4. Be eager and enthusiastic.
  5. Be curious.
  6. Commit to learning and growing.
  7. Be known as someone who encourages others.
  8. Contribute new, useful, well thought out solutions.
  9. Understand your challenges and seek appropriate help.
  10. Believe passionately in what you do.  Is this work fulfilling your purpose in life?
    • (Last year, we had an employee realize that the recovery field did not align with  his life purpose. He is now pursuing teaching English at the collegiate level and writing. Awesome!)
  11. Be generous with your time and talent.
  12. Generate incredible quality in all that you do.
  13. Embrace the idea that you are a role model for the recovery community. Live to that standard.
  14. Self-care.
  15. Embrace the idea that “transformed people transform people”. What does this mean for me? What does it mean for others?

Many eyes are upon us, not all of them friendly.  I encourage you, personally, to strive for excellence no matter where you are or what you do.

The recovery community reputation depends on it.

phil valentine
Phil Valentine

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

2 thoughts on “Excellence”

  1. Carlos Reinoso Jr.

    Do Your Job, strive for excellence while always conducting yourself RIGHT ..and it’s ok to ask for assistance.
    Love it! I’m a believer Chief 🙂

  2. Thank you Phil,
    This is a great tool for reflection on how “well” I am with concrete directions for continued growth.
    I appreciate you sharing your wisdom and practice.
    Cathy B

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