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How Transparency in Recovery Can Help You at Work

A good friend of mine speaks often about how important her daily recovery practice is to her life, specifically, because of its “interconnectedness in all things.”

This is a concept I’ve grown to love, and one I’ve started to observe everywhere I turn within the recovery movement. It’s certainly true that when you find recovery and adopt the principles that support a sober lifestyle, it has a continuous and rewarding effect on everything else in your life.

I think it’s pretty simple, actually. People like transparent people. It’s what makes people feel safe, comfortable and open, knowing a transparent person has no hidden agenda or motive. And in the workplace, this is critical.

The best leaders, mentors and colleagues are those who can be trusted and who are consistently themselves. This also happens to be a cornerstone principle of what it means to live your life in recovery.

Being clear and straightforward about your feelings, thoughts and even triggers can be a failsafe strategy to staying sober. It will help you reach out to people when you need it, and have one image, life and reputation to maintain – which is a lot easier than balancing a double life or conflicting motives.

So at work, transparency can be equally helpful if you use it. It will be the principle you can use to be a better leader, employee or volunteer, simply because people will know, unmistakably, who you are and what you’re about.

How Transparency Can Transform Your Life

Transparency in recovery and at work can transform your life if you let it. Here’s how:

  • Have clear, honest intentions.
    Transparency requires that your intentions are honest, straightforward and clear. In recovery, living an honest life is pivotal, and for many people, is a refreshing, new way to live life. Continue the same commitment to honesty at work.
  • Create a culture of trust and safety.
    Whether you’re at work or a recovery meeting, community and teamwork is important. And to build a solid team or community of people, you need people to feel safe. Start by developing trust with the people you work with. Let them know you’re a good person, with good intentions, a positive attitude and a safe demeanor. It will not only build a better team, but will give you a community at work during good and bad days, and you’ll probably end up with a friend or two.
  • Remember integrity.
    An inspiring quote by Dwight D. Eisenhower says, “The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionable integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, whether itis on a section gang, a football field, in an army or in an office.” Transparency puts you on the path of ultimate integrity, and integrity is doing the right thing, even when people aren’t looking.

Steps to Start Living With Transparency at Work

Beyond these general principles of transparency, here are a few practical steps to start living your life with transparency at work:

  • Write a personal integrity statement.
    Create a personal code of integrity and stick by it. Write out your values, the areas you need to improve on, and your plan for doing so.
    Put it into practice: “I want to make sure I stay honest at work, even when I make a mistake. I’ll ask my mentor or sponsor to check-in with me about this every week, and will make a plan to talk with my boss or coworkers to correct it.”
  • Promote safe community.
    Think of ways you can promote a safe, respectful community in your place of work and make it a part of your everyday work life. For some, this could be the way you handle yourself in difficult times, or even creating a support group for stress, recovery or mental health.
    Put it into practice: Someone comes to you with workplace gossip and you know this will put you in the middle of a workplace conflict. Rather than engage, you respectfully acknowledge the person is having a difficult time, but create the boundary that you don’t want to gossip. Even if it’s uncomfortable right away, they’ll know the kind of person you are, and you won’t say anything you regret later.
  • Stay accountable.
    Value accountability, with yourself and others, and remember people always have the ability to change or improve.
    Put it into practice: Create regular checkpoints with your boss, coworkers and mentor or sponsor. Keep an open dialogue about ways you can improve. If you’re a manager, stay open to the feedback of your employees, and always give them a chance to correct mistakes.
  • Talk openly.
    Share your story, to whatever degree you’re comfortable. This will vary from person-to-person, but know that the choice is yours. It’s your story, your truth, and yours to determine how and when to use it best.
    Put it into practice: Share your story, if you want. You could do this on a person-by-person basis, or becoming a more formal recovery or mental health advocate in your place of work. You might be surprised by how many people will turn to you for support, help or guidance.

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