Everything I know about being a good worker I learned from 12 step programs.
One of my first sponsors told me to shake hands with everyone before and after the meeting and introduce myself to them.
When someone comes to the office I stand up from my desk, walk over and extend my hand, introducing myself – they apparently like this and I see their shoulders relax a bit and a smile form on even the grumpiest of people.
Our basic text, the Big Book, tells us “Selfishness, self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles.” A.A. page 62
If I’m manning a table/booth at an event I smile and welcome people over – I ask about them, I want to know what they do and how they like it. I find out how I can help them. If I focus on helping others then I can’t spend time in my head thinking about me which is a great thing.
I am Responsible. When anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, I want the hand of A.A. always to be there. And for that: I am responsible.
“How can A.A. best function” and, “How can A.A. best stay whole and so survive” A.A. page 177 (in the mini Big Book)
I am responsible for my job too, my company and my co-workers. I want them to always be there for me so I have to be responsible. That means I ask how I can help them do their jobs, if there is anything I can do to make their loads lighter – if their load is lighter than that might make them have a better day. It also means I have to be aware of the rules and how the company is doing. “How can my work best function?” and, “How can work best stay whole and so survive?” Those are some great questions to consider when thinking about your job.
“Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.” A.A. page 178 (in the mini Big Book)
I try to stay out of gossip at work – I don’t want to need to participate in it and become involved in any drama. I also just focus on the job at hand there and keep politics and religion out of discussions with co-workers. Yes, I do have an opinion about all kinds of things – but that doesn’t mean work is the place I need to share it.
“…and when we were wrong promptly admitted it…” A.A. page 59
That one’s easy – usually… it throws some people off when you come at them and say “Hey, I screwed up here, how can I fix this with you”. People like the honesty, the openness when you do things like that – sometimes it makes them wary but if they see you practice it more they’ll come to understand it’s a part of you.
“As we go through the day we pause when agitated or doubtful, and ask for the right thought or action.” A.A. page 87
This one saves my bacon time and time again – before I toss out my witty retort or type off a heavily worded email I stop and take a deep breath and consider what I’m about to do – sometimes I have to take a few pauses before I’m alright again…
Sponsor Direction: Show up early, help set up the meeting – make the coffee, get to know people. Stay late – help tear down the meeting and get to know people.
I’m always early for meetings, I’m always early for work. I make sure that I’m there to talk to people before the day starts and to see how they’re doing. I make the coffee (sometimes my co-worker does) I turn on the lights. At the end of the day I clean up the coffee (sometimes my co-worker does) and make sure everything is locked up tight… It helps to get the day off on the right track. Staying after is nice if someone needs help there you are, you can be in a place of maximum helpfulness to them.
A.A. can and does make it easy to go to work and do what I do, it also bridges a gap in relationships with my co-workers and people my company serves that otherwise I wouldn’t have. My natural instincts are to stay to myself not talk to anyone else – even when I was drinking I was that way. But I have to be involved in the stream of life and participate, I’m meant to.
November 2014 edit: People have commented over the years and recently about my great work ethic – I used to credit it to being raised in the Midwest, but then I recall my younger days at factories when it was all about me and my jobs didn’t last very long at all. Being a better worker means thinking about your coworkers, organization and those goals – it means focusing less on you and yours. Surprisingly these small changes can make a world of difference in every day.
originally published July 2013