Monday, December 1, 2014

Putting Your Best Foot Forward in Recovery

What does putting your best foot forward mean?

It means you lead with your strongest selling point, your strengths. If I am applying for a job, that means my resume leads with my positives. If I am interviewing, I talk about my accomplishments. I steer the focus away from my deficits and towards my strengths. I also avoid buzz words that could leave a negative lasting impression on the person I am talking to.

Someone who does this well would be Donald Trump. Mr. Trump has filed bankruptcy 4 times. When he meets someone in the community, how do you think he refers to himself? “Hi, my name is Donald and I am a businessman who has filed bankruptcy 4 times.” Of course not, he refers to himself by his successes. When people think of him they think of his successful properties and TV show.

What does this have to do with recovery?


“I’m David, and I’m a grateful recovering addict” is how I used to introduce myself. I stopped because it never felt right, and it did nothing to reduce the stigma the community leveraged against me which I felt personally. All the general public heard me say was ADDICT! They visualized a junkie and the conversation was over.
When I said recovering alcoholic, they heard recovering Alcoholic!! They picture me passed out in an alley snuggling a bottle of Ripple. To avoid this, I started introducing myself as, “David, and I’m in recovery.” I was fine with this for the last 5 years.

Recently I watched The Anonymous People. They talked about recovery language and it resonated with me. It reinforced how I felt and what I have been telling clients the past several years. They also added to it. You start with an introduction, add that you are in long-term recovery and define what long-term recovery means to you. Then you talk about an accomplishment from your recovery.

This is a great elevator speech, and allows you to answer any questions they might have and leave a lasting impression all at the same time. So in closing, I ask  you, which sounds better? Which leaves a better impression? Which of these introductions will you use?

1.      Hi, my name is David and I’m a grateful recovering addict and alcoholic.
2.      Hi, my name is David and I’m in recovery?
3.      Hi, my name is David and I’m in long-term recovery. What that means to me is that I have not used drugs or alcohol since January 31st of 2009, and because of that I have been able to do start an organization called Better Life in Recovery whose mission is Transforming Lives with Recovery. If you have a minute I would love to talk to you about it.

For me, I rather enjoy the 3rd one and will continue to use it. After all, I would rather put my best foot forward and lead with my positives!