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Checking into rehab

For a minute, take alcoholism and substance abuse and spirituality entirely out of the equation. When not looked through that lens, can’t rehab be applied to almost everything that we want to change or improve?

Singer Amy Winehouse has a very delightful song called ‘Rehab’.

Picture courtesy — Unsplash

Singer Amy Winehouse has a very delightful song called ‘Rehab’.

In the song, the chorus goes like this:

“They tried to make me go to rehab
I said, “no, no, no”

While it’s a lovely song, the brilliant but troubled singer herself struggled with well-documented substance abuse issues and sadly, lost her battle to her demons in 2011.

We usually associate the word rehab or rehabilitation with 3 things:

a) People being rehabilitated after a disaster like an earthquake or a tsunami has struck and they have been displaced and lost everything

b) A sportsperson who suffers an injury and needs to be rehabilitated to get back to playing

c) A person has struggled with substance abuse issues and needs to get back on their feet after a debilitating addiction

When seen in totality, rehab is basically getting back on one’s feet after some sort of a setback. Further, it involves overcoming something that is harming us or has harmed us and moving forward in a positive direction.

Bill W is credited for setting up the first chapter of alcoholics anonymous (AA) and the 12 steps to recovery back in 1934. A hopeless alcoholic, he devised a method that combined spirituality and abstinence. Though many addicts claim to have overcome their addiction without resorting to the 12 steps as they feel it is outdated and don’t subscribe to the religious parts of it, it is still practiced the world over.

These are the 12 steps according to AA:

Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.

Step 2: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Step 7: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Step 11: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him

Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

For a minute, take alcoholism and substance abuse and spirituality entirely out of the equation. When not looked through that lens, can’t rehab be applied to almost everything that we want to change or improve?

  • Organizations can be rehabbed
  • Attitudes can be rehabbed
  • Leaders can be rehabbed
  • Governments can be rehabbed
  • We can all be rehabbed

Now let’s look at why many of us (organizations and governments included) struggle to get on the right track even when we know something is missing or not right. In other words, just like Amy Winehouse, they don’t want to go to rehab.

  • In most cases, we don’t admit there is a problem in the first place as there is a lot of fear of being looked down upon in that
  • Even if we admit there is a problem, we assume we can solve it ourselves without anyone’s help, another terrible misconception
  • In the rare event that a problem is addressed, there is no follow-up to ensure that the change is sustained

Many organizations have exit interview forms where employees that are leaving write their reasons for leaving and give their feedback. It’s probably the only time when an employee can speak their minds. It’s also the perfect opportunity for organizations to learn what they’re doing wrong and course-correct. But how many organizations use this great opportunity to reform, course correct and rehabilitate themselves?

If you’re striving for sort of transformation, expecting it to happen overnight is a fallacy. You can realize that something needs to change in an instant but making it last is a laborious process. I learned this for myself the hard way.

A couple of years back, I was prescribed physiotherapy for my twisted back. This is how I expected it to pan out — I would go for physio for a week. My back would totally heal in that time and I would be able to run a 10k in a week after that. The pain only marginally reduced. It was then that I realized there was no permanent or instant solution for my weak back and grudgingly turned to yoga. In other words, I need rehab for my back almost on a daily basis.

Actually, almost any sort of rehab requires the same kind of effort — you need to work at it constantly.

In short:

a) Admit you have a problem/ need to improve/ work on something/get better

b) Seek intervention and help from someone who will guide you and keep you in check.

c) Realize that it’s a never-ending process. You can’t do it over a meeting, a workshop and or a forced bonding session.

I have only recently discovered the work of Jerry Colona, a leadership coach. His most recent book is called RebootHis interview on the Tim Ferris show is an eye-opening one and his site has some great resources.

More importantly, the word Reboot jumped out at me.

The more I think of it, it means the same thing as rehab but has a positive vibe to it. It means to stop whatever it is you’re doing that’s hurting you and emerge out of it stronger and better.

What do you want to reboot today?

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