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.

Sunday, January 26, 2014


One of my challenges at TLC is helping employees deal with stress.

For example, this morning I walked in the door and found a key employee in tears. Later, when I was able to get the employee to take a deep breath and slow down I asked what was going on. What brought on the tears?

And last week, a very bright, well-educated professional had reached the limits mostly because she tries to do too good of a job. She allows everyone to unload on her and she tries to help. She has a generous heart, but the reality is we can't carry everyone's burdens.

Our job is to carry the message, not the mess. We can be the most saintly and wonderful human beings, but if we don't know where to draw boundaries we're going to succumb  to self-induced stress. And we threaten our recovery when we get into this state.

When I start seeing stress meltdowns among our employees I encourage them to come to me to try to find a solution. Do they need more help? Do they need to take a deep breath and be mindful of where they're at emotionally? Do we need to change procedures? Is the employee learning to delegate and let others grow by helping carry some of the load?

I learned some 20 years ago that I can't do everything. At one time my ego said I was the only one who could do the job right. And I was making myself crazy. I found out that I can delegate responsibilities to others. And by doing that I allowed them to grow and I allowed TLC to grow to its present size.  And the job got completed just fine.

I learned to slow down, get centered, and ask for help.

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