Apr 09: Control


My choice of topic reflects where I am today – having an AFGO! I am in an unusual (for me) situation where I have a leadership position. I’ve always thought of myself as very flexible with few control issues. WRONG! It is very hard for me to know where the line is between ‘leading’ and ‘controlling.’

There are roles in life that require a person to direct others – like parents trying to raise healthy, morally-based children and managers/supervisors within organizations. Giving instructions, offering criticism, and awarding positive behavior are inherent in the role.

Yet, the Big Book tells us that: “Each person is like an actor who wants to run the whole show; is forever trying to arrange the lights, the ballet, the scenery and the rest of the players in his own way” (pg. 60) and then “What usually happens? The show doesn’t come off very well.” (pg. 61)

At my f2f BB meeting yesterday, I shared about this predicament. A woman in the meeting said, “I know I’m not supposed to try to be the director, but my business card says I AM the Director!” Responsible for the performance of hundreds of employees, she lives with this contradiction every day.

My predicament right now is the line is between fulfilling the role of leader (or parent or boss) and being the self-centered controlling Director. I may think I am doing the right thing when I really am just trying to get my way. Where is the line between fulfilling your role and using the role to express some character defects?

Control issues crop up at the most inconvenient times! I have to check my motives when I want to tell someone else what to do. Am I contributing in a positive way to the situation? Am I approaching it with, as the BB says, love and tolerance?

This topic doesn’t have a direct relationship to alcohol or drinking. But when I was drinking, these thoughts would never have occurred to me. I’d have pushed for my way no matter what the consequences. AA and the 12 Steps have taught me to take a step back, to breathe, and to look at my part in any situation where I feel uncomfortable or unhappy – or where I’m making others uncomfortable or unhappy.

This week, I invite you to share with us your experience, strength, and hope related to fulfilling your roles in life while also being faithful to the principles of the AA program. And, of course, please feel free to share on anything you need to.