Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, an 850-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992, when he had a year sober. He's in his 28th year of recovery.

In these posts, he views life mostly through the lenses of recovery. While the blog is factual, he often disguises events and people to protect anonymity.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Someone asked me a while back how I could continue to trust people when they betray that trust.

They're referring to the fact that sometimes those working for us will relapse and take our vehicles or money -- often both -- on their way out. Since 1992 this has probably occurred at least once a year. On a few occasions we've had a couple of employees do this more than once. We've taken them back, trusted them again, and they did the same thing. While this may seem to be naive or stupid on our part, we just look at it as part of the business -- and maybe as part of that person's recovery process.

And sometimes trusting people pays off. For example, one of the most trusted people in our office who handles our money and is responsible for a couple areas of our business several years ago stole a van from us and drove it to California. He eventually returned, made amends, and became an employee. He's now been sober a few years and is the father of a new baby. Sometimes trusting people works.

My philosophy is that I trust people to be people. No matter where we look in the world there are people in positions of trust to do the wrong thing. People, whether they're in recovery or not, sometimes succumb to temptation. Do we banish them from our lives? Do we treat them as pariahs? Or, if they are repentant, do we give them another opportunity?

Of course, we do hold them accountable. If people steal from us we turn them over to authorities and send them to jail. Once out of jail, though, many of them ask for our help.

And in most cases, if they seem sincere, we open our doors to them again.