COVID-19 Update: We are currently accepting new clients with increased safety measures. LEARN MORE ›

Pillars of success: Life and Recovery

Welcome everybody, to another family education and support group with Buckeye Network, with your host, Parham. Today is February 18th, so this is live at 10 am Pacific Standard Time. If you’re watching this for the first time, the tenth time or the third year, I want to say welcome. My hope and intention is that you gain some value that you can add to your current journey of recovery with the intention that it helps transform your life. Welcome to the community.

Quick things about myself – my name is Parham, I have a masters degree in marriage and family therapy with an emphasis in child development, so the human development lifespan across this thing we call life is my expertise. I am a licensed addiction counselor, so anything from substances to behaviors and everything in between – I feel like I have a good grasp on. I am in personal recovery myself, so full disclosure – June 13, 2008 is the day I put down the drugs and drinks and I picked up anything and everything that’s possible in this thing called life. I’m a high school basketball coach – I’ve been doing it for 14 years. Recently I’ve also joined the faculty of a local college here in Southern California. I’ll be teaching college classes.

For all the ones who popped up, [names] Welcome. This is interactive, so if you leave any comments I’m able to pull them on the board and if you have any questions about what I’m saying it’s very easy for me to be able to answer them in real time, and hopefully provide some support to you and your loved ones.

Today it’s an old talk but I’m revisiting it and I’m custom tailoring it to the recovery process. If you’re here for yourself because you’re an individual struggling with addiction this talk will relate to you, But also if you are here because you have a loved one in your life – a spouse, a child, a parent, a friend, someone in your life that may be experiencing addiction problems, challenges and you want some support this is pretty much the right place to be. You’re not here by coincidence. If you have any questions feel free to stop me and ask that question.

The pillars of success is actually a book. There’s 12 pillars of success. In the time I have today I’ll probably focus on 10 of them. The book is written for personal development but it’s also written for the sales world so I’ve gotten the content of it adapted to fit the audience here which is all about recovery. By the way, every talk I ever do, everything I ever do, is dedicated to the possibility of human transformation. I believe that all human beings, no matter who you are, where you are, what you’ve done in the past, what you’re currently doing in life, have the ability to transform your circumstances, your narratives, the stories you tell about yourself to yourself, and ultimately transform your life. So if that’s something you want (maybe need) in your life, then you’re at the right place. Let’s get into it.

When I put up each pillar of success I’m going to pull it up so you know what I’m talking about.


The first pillar of success is what’s called Personal Development . The main quote I have for this is pretty simple. It says, “The only way things are going to change for you is when you change.” So what does that mean? I know a lot of you are watching this because your loved ones are using drugs and alcohol. And you’re hoping that when they change I’m going to be ok, I’m going to change too. If that’s the premise that you have in your mind there’s a very high probability that you’ll be disappointed. Because in life we never want what happens externally to dictate how we feel internally and how we go about life. So if your loved ones end up changing, good for them and good for you, however don’t think that their change is going to be the catalyst for your change.

In order for things to change in life, you have to change. Do you have any idea – as a therapist, how many people sit in my office and tell me all of these things that are wrong with their world – their parents, their employer, the system, the politics, the way society is? They have all these grievances. They say to themselves, hey, when those things change then I’m going to change too. And I mean, look at your history. When things changed in your life, did that really make a profound impact on who you are and how you lived your life? Maybe momentarily but not really. If you’re thinking the only reason you’re watching this is because someone in your life has a substance abuse issue and I just want you to know, that’s ok, there’s nothing wrong with being there, however let me tell you something really frankly and really honestly. The only thing that changes when someone gets sober is the problems related to drugs and alcohol, that’s it. All of the problems with lack of communication, inability to trust, the way people deal with their emotions, their motivations, all that stuff that’s also there with substance abuse – none of that truly goes away. If you think when your loved one stops drinking and using drugs that you’re going to be ok, that you’re going to get your spouse or son or daughter back that you had 10 or 15 years ago you’re in for a rude awakening. So you have to accept the fact that changes with the stopping of the drugs and alcohol are the problems related to drugs and alcohol. So personal development for you as a family member is that yes, your loved one is going on this journey of getting off of drugs and alcohol and hopefully finding their own path, their own way. But where does that leave you as a family? Whether they go left or right, what does that do to you as a family member? As an individual who’s been watching this train wreck of addiction for a long time, now it’s time for you to develop yourself, investing in yourself, changing yourself.

Some people might say I don’t need to change, everything in my life is fine besides the fact that my loved one has substance abuse issues, that’s false. Even those of us who are self actualized, and we’ve been able to transcend and master our thoughts and emotions, there’s still room for improvement every single day because life, this journey of life, is so fluid, and there’s so many blind twists and turns that we deal with and the only way we can handle them is through personal development. That’s pillar number 1. We’ll dive into it in the next few weeks but that’s number 1. It’s not about the development of your loved one, it’s the development of you. A lot of times I can use the flip side of it and say, when somebody comes into the program, they want their family member to change – I want my mom and dad to change – but what if they don’t? Let’s say they choose to never change. Where does that leave you? The only choice is to be able to change yourself.

Let’s see what some of these counselors are saying.

Counselor Jim – “Change is necessary for recovery, however change is difficult for the addict in early recovery.”
I think change is difficult for everybody in early recovery. Because when the addict or the alcoholic or the person using substances gets clean and sober that changes the entire dynamic of the relationships. So for the family members their life is going to be different. I’ll give you an example. Let’s say there’s a mom or a spouse or a dad that’s constantly fixing and rescuing, always putting out the fires. Good for you, if that’s what you’ve been doing. But now all of a sudden the person is no longer using substances and there’s no fires to put out – you know what happens with a lot of people in that case? They don’t know what to do with themselves. They created this identity of “I’m the fixer, I’m the rescuer,” and all of a sudden they no longer have that purpose in their life. A lot of times in early recovery, someone gets sober, and their partner or their spouse is still living the way they used to live, but they didn’t have an issue with drugs and alcohol. Now their relationship doesn’t match. Sometimes people don’t even like the new versions of themselves in a relationship. And I’ll tell you this – there’s so many spouses who say I like you more when you’re drinking, I like you more when you were doing what you used to do – you’re so different. Is that saying more about the person, or their own inability to change and adapt to changes?

Tony said, “The only thing consistent in life is change. And that change depends on how you as an individual determine the outcome of how that change affects you.”

Yeah, change is the only constant in life, Mr. Tony. It’s the only thing that guarantees that life is always going to change. And personal development is the only way that we can handle those changes. I’ve been on record saying that a lot of people pat me on the back for the transformation and changes in my life when the reality of it is I really think that my mom and dad in the process of my recovery, found their own recovery, and they were able to change more than I have. My dad has been able to regulate his emotions better. My mom’s been able to control less. She still acts out with codependency once in a while, she still relapses with codependency but she’s working on it. I promised her I’d give her a little jab today, but long story short, we’re all trying to change.


Wellbeing is something we all want, we all strive for, we all hope to achieve in life. The ‘total’ part means that wellbeing is not just one thing. There is a sum of parts. There’s the mind, the body and the spirit. Imagine a triangle – one of them is the mind, the way you think, the way you process, the way you relate with what you’re experiencing in life. The next one is the body, this vehicle that takes us from point A to point B. It’s this place that we live inside of. It’s our temple. The last one is the spirit, it’s beyond the body, beyond the mind, it’s like our soul. And if you’re trying to feel good in life there’s no bandaid, there is no quickfix, there is no magic formula, there’s no new product, no new book. If you want to feel good in life, the triangle of mind, body and spirit is something that needs to be addressed and something that needs to be touched every single day. So when you wake up in the morning or someway throughout the day can you say you’ve done something for your mind, have you done something for your body? And have you done something for your spirit? Most of us realize that on some days we do some of all, and some days we don’t do any. And we wonder why we don’t feel good. And I’ll tell you this – when your loved ones are going through addiction, so for those of you who are in different programs watching this right now, for you it might be a different experience because you’re the one getting off of drugs and alcohol, your family members have neglected their mind, body, spirit for a long time because they’re hyperfocused on the fear of, “Is my loved one going to live?” For all the moms and dads that sleep with their phone on their chest at night, for all the moms and dads that drive around neighborhoods and areas that they’re terrified of driving, looking for their kid, for all the moms and dads that go to a drug dealer’s house to give some money to a drug dealer because their kid is in debt, do you have any idea what that does to the mind, body and the spirit?

As a family member now that you’re in your own recovery if you don’t start addressing the mind, body and spirit yourself there’s something called psychosomatic illness – because thoughts are connected. Our mind and body are connected. As much as western medicine wants to separate the two, when you go to the doctor and say “I have anxiety,” and they don’t want to look at the body and they prescribe you something for that, the mind and body are connected. So if you’re watching this right now and you think this guy is right, I’ve really neglected myself for the past x amount of time, well the only way things are going to change is when you change. When are you going to start putting yourself first when it comes to that? I do it all the time. My mind, my body and my spirit – I touch all 3 areas multiple times during the day so I can ensure that I optimize and function in life. Can I say I did that a long time ago? Absolutely not. It’s a process. Some days are easier than others but as long as we stay consistent on a regular basis eventually you’ll start to feel better. Anybody watching this if you have questions, feel free to ask any questions and I’ll be glad to answer them.


The next one we have here is pillar #3, the gift of relationships. I’ll give you a newsflash: none of us are who we are today without others. I’ve been on the record saying thank God for my mom and dad and my family who didn’t give up on me when I had given up on myself. I’ve said it numerous times and I’ll stick to it 14 ½ years later. Thank God for the coaching staff at Aliso Niguel that took me in with open arms 14 years ago when I had no purpose in life. Thank God for the teachers that taught me things when I didn’t want to be taught, when I had the habit of leaving classes, that said, “Hey why don’t you stick around and give yourself a chance to succeed?” Thank God for the counselors and therapists that came into my life that allowed me to be seen and helped me remove the shame that I was living with because of the things that I had done. So, the gift of relationships is something that really helps us succeed in life. Some of these relationships could be old, some of them could be new, and some of them you haven’t even tapped into because you haven’t even met these people.

Relationships are like gardens. They need time, they need the proper environment, they need so many things for them to be able to flourish. This morning I did a talk for our program participants. So many of them want to feel good right off the bat – they’re going to counseling and therapy, they stopped drugs and they want to feel good. All that they’ve really done is plant seeds inside their garden. Now, I’m not a rocket scientist and I get to see this miracle in life. I’ve never seen somebody grab an apple seed, put it in the dirt and 30 days later, they are able to chew the apple. Doesn’t happen. But if they put the apple seed in the soil in a place where abundant light and nutrients can get to the apple, that they can water it, and get fresh air and oxygen, maybe they can get an apple and bite into it. Recovery is the same way. Some of you who are watching this right now – you’re planting the seeds of your recovery. I want to set the expectations realistically – you’re not biting into an apple any time soon. It’s going to take a while for what you’re planting today to blossom. And you, as the gardener, are responsible for doing what needs to be done to ensure this plant can thrive. Recovery is the same way. We’re all connected to nature. A human being in early stages of recovery is no different than a new plant. Nature – nature, life form – life form. Why would I be any different than an apple tree? Why do the fruits that I’m going to bear have to come in a snap? It’s that instant gratification stuff that I talk about.

People want to do a few things and feel better. You feel a little bit better but then you go back to baseline again. It’s going to take time and work on both sides. Even the family members lose themselves in this process. You’re planting seeds of your own self right now. Some of you might be planting seeds for your relationships right now with your loved ones. So if your relationship is rooted in mistrust, anger and sadness, and now that the possibility of transformation and the gift of hope has been given to you just know it’s going to take some time to water this thing. Don’t sit back saying I can’t wait to see what happens with my loved one, and you don’t do anything yourself. Because if something goes off or derails with your loved one then you’re stuck there feeling pretty bad again. The whole tape starts repeating itself.


The next one I have here is #4 – achieving your goals. Did you guys know that 95% of people don’t have goals beyond what is immediate and short term? And I’m not saying you look down the line and say I have this bill due or that bill due, that kind of stuff is just life. I’m talking about personal, professional development. 95% of people don’t have goals beyond the short term, and that is a real statistic. They might have some ideas and thoughts inside of their head but they’re kinda like rattling around like marbles. They don’t have them written down. They don’t have a plan on how this goal is going to become a reality. Did you know that a goal that is not written down with timelines and objectives and milestones and checkmarks, all that is it’s just a wish? You’re going around life just making wishes. I wish that happens, I wish this happens. You know what happens to wishes, one of those flowers that you blow on and it goes all over? So if your goals are just inside your mind rattling around like marbles and you’re wondering why you’re not able to achieve them, grab a pen and paper, write down a goal that’s beyond what you’re doing today or tomorrow or what you’re buying at the grocery store.

Come up with a 6-month/1-year/2-year goal for yourself. Write it down. Look at it. Breathe life into it. Make it a reality. And if you do so then you’ll start to realize, “Ok, maybe I still can accomplish some of my goals. Maybe I can still accomplish some of my dreams. Maybe I can get my wishes into reality.” I’m obsessed with goals. I don’t know if you guys noticed over here – I have type A personality. When I create goals I don’t create goals that are rooted in next week, next month. I create 3 year goals, 5 year goals, my current one is a 11 year goal that I’m working on right now and I don’t deviate from them. You might say this guy has no stressors. Man, I’m telling you – so many life stressors happened to me in the past year that could easily have derailed me from this and everyone would have told me, “We understand, it’s ok, just take it easy.” But it’s not ok with me. I know that if you live this life without goals you’re going to get lost. Look at it this way – we think life is weird. How weird is this? We’re all watching this in this country called America. This country happens to be on this planet called earth, which is in this thing called space, and we are spinning around our axis very, very fast, and not only are we spinning around really fast, we’re also moving through the galaxy even faster – and if you don’t know how fast we’re going go look it up – that’ll really trip you out.

Now my friends, you want to know why so many people feel lost in the world? Because that’s it – we’re on this giant, rotating shooting rock in the middle of nowhere, between emptiness and nothingness, that continues to expand into more emptiness and nothingness. The only way to feel grounded and secure is by having some goals, knowing what the hell you’re doing on this rock. This is beyond recovery. This is about life. Make some goals for yourself. Accomplish them.

Goals, by the way, for family members – your goals are not your loved ones’ goals. You have to individualize yourself as a human being, as a separate entity and create something for yourself, goals for yourself that are completely separate. And some of you might be thinking what do you mean, goals for myself? I don’t have any goals for myself anymore – That’s a story you’re telling yourself. If you’ve lost touch with what’s important to you and what you want to accomplish in life, that’s on you to do some soul searching and find out. Don’t tell me you’re just giving up on yourself, that it’s not important anymore, that you accomplished all you want to accomplish. Come on, there’s so much to do, so many experiences in life that move you, inspire you, why not? That’s what this channel is all about. It’s not all about getting off drugs and alcohol – that’s the easy part. It’s when people get off drugs and alcohol how do they stay off it? When family members get their kid into recovery how do they find themselves? That’s what this is all about.

Jim – “All the little goals and larger goals all boil down to being able to be ok with me today.”

Yes, that’s one thing I do want to talk about – sometimes people set these goals out in the future but they haven’t really found peace with who and what they are today. Without finding peace with what I’m today and how I’m living today it’s hard to achieve those goals in the future. Because it creates a misconception in the mind that when I have that goal, I’ll be ok. That’s a lie. The true thought process is that I am ok today and I’m working toward achieving that goal. Whether that goal gets accomplished or not, we are not in the outcome business. We’re just in the action business. We take the best actions we can with the info we have, with the current situation we’re in and hopefully if we take enough actions consecutively over time it takes us to the destination where that goal is more attainable. People set themselves up for failure when they say, “When that happens then I’ll be ok.” Anytime you say “when this, then that” you’re setting yourself up for some pain.


Pillar number 5, the proper use of time, is something that’s important. Because all human beings have something in common. So yes I know we’re all human beings, regardless of what human beings look like, I know we have organs within us, when you cut us blood comes out, and we got these things called moms and dads and we live on this place called earth, I know all tha. But there’s something else we have in common. Jeff Bezos, with his 200 billion dollars and the homeless person who’s walking by both have something in common. Me and you have something in common. That is the fact that we all have 24 hours in a day. Some people say I don’t have time. Some people say I can’t squeeze it in. Some people say I wish I had more time to do something like that. Anything like that I’m telling you straight up is false. We do have more time. There’s no such thing as “I don’t have time.” Some of the highest performing CEOs – I’m talking about the people that are running the multibillion dollar corporations, did you know they have 7-10 minute meetings so they can fill in 30 meetings in a day? They can say I don’t have time because I have a meeting scheduled, but no, they create time. There’s no such thing as I don’t have time if you don’t create time – if you don’t create a budget for your time and you don’t allocate for certain things. The person who says I don’t have time to work out is not someone who’s not motivated, it’s someone that doesn’t budget themselves. On the days that I can’t work out in the afternoon, I get up super early before anyone else gets up. I get my workout in. I don’t want to sit at the end of the day and say I didn’t have time… I didn’t create time. And the reason why many people don’t have time is because most people major in minor things. They spend the majority of their time engaging in things that don’t mean anything to them 6 months from now, a year from now. If you’re stressed about something that a year from now doesn’t mean anything I give you permission – I would strongly suggest that you just let it go. If it’s not going to mean anything a week from now, a month from now, why hold on to it?

A time budget is really interesting. We all know what a financial budget is. You sit down and look at all the costs and the money coming in and you try to budget it. Do it with your time too. The best time to budget your time is the night before. I look at my day ahead, my week ahead, I find those little pockets to do different things – that’s how I do 7 jobs – I just budget out my time.

Tony – “Everything in life is use it or lose it.”
If I grab my arm and tie it down to my body and if I don’t use it, and I keep it like that for an extended period of time, maybe a few days or weeks, without any type of movement and then open it up my arm is unable to do anything. Physical body parts, if you don’t use them, you can lose them. The mind, if you don’t use it you lose it. So time – if you don’t use it you absolutely lose it.

Jim – “Get er done. Start early. Oh yes-priorities.”

Jim and Tony get in, for example, 4 hours before the start of the day and they would get their entire day ready. So by the time the programming day is over, they’re done. On the flip side some people get to work right before work, they’re trying to pound and stress out, “I don’t have enough time, I don’t know what to do,” so they’re unable to have that payoff. So time management is a pillar of success.


If you’re an individual that’s using substances, if you’re using with some using buddies, I know some of the people are your friends, I’m not going to be disrespectful and tell you they’re bad people, and in some cases they’re your family members, I’m not going to say they’re bad people. But you gotta surround yourselves with the best people. How do you know if people are the best?

I got a few questions you can ask yourselves:

Who am I around?
What effect are they having on me?
What have they got me reading or watching?
Where do they have me going?
What do they have me thinking?
What do they have me becoming?

If you like the answers to all of those there’s a high probability that the people that you want are the best people. I can’t answer that for you. I did this with our program participants. We have a bunch of 18-20 year olds right now. To tell them you have to surround yourself with the best people, all they know are their friends. They haven’t learned the lesson that those friends in high school are not going to be their lifelong friends. Statistics show that many of them don’t end up being lifelong friends. As a matter of fact the only reason we’re friends with a lot of people in high school is because we happen to be in the same building called school, because we lived in the same city, and it was the place we were being raised in. That’s the only main reason why a lot of us become friends with people. Can we find some lifelong friends among them? Absolutely! But when we become adults and we individualize those are the questions you need to ask yourself.

Sometimes people say I don’t have any friends. Like myself.
You can ask yourself:

Who are you when you’re around yourself?
What effect are you having on yourself?
What do you have yourself watching or reading?
Where are you taking yourself?
What places are you going?
What are you thinking about?
What are you becoming?
You can answer all these to yourself.

As outspoken and assertive as I am, my social circle is so small that if I sat in front of my therapist and told them how small my social circle is, they’d probably say you need to get yourself a social life. That’s probably what they’d say – you need to have more social interactions. But the reality of it is if i’m sitting on a couch and watching a Youtube video and i’m listening to an audio book, I’m always exposing myself to people being around me. Sometimes they’re not in physical form, sometimes we do what we can to level up.

Eileen – “If you can laugh at something later that stressed me today, why not change the perspective and laugh about it today?”

But when you’re so close to something it’s harder to see it, and the perspective gets lost – but that’s a good exercise – to laugh at what you’re stressed out about because you know a year later you’re probably going to laugh about it. That’s some good stuff.

Alan – “I know because they support what I’m doing, like you my friend.”

You know you want to surround yourself with people that support you. They don’t put you down, they support you.

Alan – “The best will bring out the best.”

The cream rises to the top, that’s for sure.

Jim – “Experience helped me find the best people in life. I started with a blank sheet.”

Whether you’re in recovery for yourself or for someone else, there is a history and a timeline that happened before you got into recovery. Oftentimes that history and that timeline is convoluted with mistrust, with difficult situations, with heartbreaks, with challenges, and all the people in the world already have a type of stamp on them – with who they are and who they’re not. Now you get into recovery and everything changes. New people come into your life.

New worlds open up. It’s really important to not use the past experiences and place them on all the new experiences. It’s kinda like the person who gets into a new relationship, and if in their past relationship they got cheated on or got hurt, they start projecting it on every new person who comes in. and it keeps repeating itself. Why are you treating this person like the person who hurt you when this person might not even hurt you? The blank sheet in recovery is important – you gotta be open minded – you have to let go of the past. We have this thing called the ‘let go prayer’. You want to let go of everything you know so you can open up and embrace the new experiences.


Most of life’s learning comes after our formal education, whether it’s high school or college, whatever it is – most of life’s learning comes later on. At least learning about yourself. When we’re a child whatever we’re getting exposed to is whatever our environment is forcing us to do, or be, or learn. But when you become older and you individualize, you start learning more about yourself. I’m very wary of a parent or a spouse that’s never really been exposed to the recovery process that says, “There’s nothing for me to learn, I’m totally cool the way I am.” What that tells me is that this person is really closed-minded. This person is not willing to expand and evolve. As I said earlier, even the most self actualized person that has the most confidence, that is the most stable, can still benefit from personal development in the recovery process. That’s the beauty of being a human – it’s infinite growth. That’s the beauty of being able to recover. When we think we’ve gotten somewhere, more opens up, it’s like wow! The more I know the more I realize I didn’t know. I’m so worried and scared of people that just know it all. I’m a professional so I don’t cast personal judgment on it, but I cast some professional judgment on them and I say, “I’m really worried if that’s the way you go about living life, thinking you got all the answers.”

Being a lifelong learner is a wonderful thing. We always admire children and how they’re able to learn so much and ask so many questions. And how they marvel at this beautiful thing called life, they’re so curious about it, they just want to learn. They want to learn about little insects and bugs and ants. There’s this famous saying – right when the adult is about to step on some ants, the child says “Stop, stop, I’m studying those ants.” What that means is that – remember that as adults, we are the same child, just a few moments removed. I swear to God, if you close your eyes and think about your childhood you can go from here to there in a few moments – that means you are that connected, that close to your child self. So please don’t stop learning.

If you’re in the recovery process come in as a blank sheet and don’t think that this is something you’re doing for someone else. I promise you’re doing this for yourself. I love learning new things. I love it. It keeps my mind sharp. A lot of adults say, “my cognitive ability is just not what it used to be. I’m not able to retain stuff or learn stuff.” It’s because the muscles are weak. It’s because you stopped learning. Especially for those of us who get into a job or a field where we become masters and experts at it, what about all the other areas in life?

Jim – “Never seen anyone too simple to learn but I’ve seen a lot of people too smart to keep it simple.”

How good is that? It’s called overintellectualizing. They’ll grab a concept and they break it down and try to make sense of it. Why not be simple and open and humble and say what can I get out of it? Some people are too smart for their own good. I know I’m not one of them.


Power of communication is one of the most important pillars of success. Everything we do in life involves other people. In order for one person and another person to be able to connect, the medium is called communication. It’s the road. In recovery, oftentimes one person is angry, afraid, or tired. The other one has suppressed their emotions with substances for a long period of time and doesn’t have the ability to communicate. Now you’ve removed the drugs and alcohol and they can’t communicate with each other. They just don’t know how. Families take it personally – they say, “They’re not on drugs anymore, I don’t know why they don’t talk to me.” The loved one says, “My parents are pissed off because they want me to talk to them, I just don’t know what to say.” The reality is that both the family members and the individual using substances are not that good at communicating. And that’s ok to say that. If you feel like you’re a great communicator or even in your field you might be a motivational public speaker, it’s different when emotions are involved, when loved ones are involved. In order to be able to articulate words, that means you have to get your thoughts, you have to process your emotions, you have to filter through them and you have to talk. When people have experienced pain, trauma, loss, abandonment in their life, it takes away their ability to communicate.

If you don’t know how to communicate I always suggest the best way to do it is to grab a piece of paper and pen and just start writing. The hand is directly connected to the heart. You can write down things you’d never be able to say to the other person. And one day you can sit down with someone and say, “I have something to say to you,” and then you say it. You may think,

“Wow, I can’t believe I was able to do that.” It’s because you practiced. And oftentimes in recovery there’s a lot of guilt in the family member and the substance user and there is shame. When there’s guilt and shame present, effective communication can’t happen. The only way to get through the guilt and shame is to talk it out. So there’s a conundrum. But I’m telling you that’s the only way to do it. A lot of times family members use counselors and therapists to communicate for them. I always tell them to do it themselves directly. And then they say they don’t know how to communicate – that’s another reason why you need to learn how to communicate.


Leadership, somewhere down the line, got misrepresented to what it truly means. You don’t have to lead tens and hundreds of people. You don’t have to be doing something grandscale. Leadership could just be leading one or two other people to a place that you’ve been, that you’re familiar with, that you know but they don’t. For example, if you’re a family member or someone in recovery, or you go to a 12 step meeting or a church group and someone walks in terrified. And you’ve kinda been through it. You know what that means? Be a leader. Walk up to them. Introduce yourself. Give them your phone number. Tell them that they can call you. Because you’re not in a dark place and they are. A leader grabs someone who is in a dark place and shows them the light. Whether they stay or don’t stay, or come back or don’t come back doesn’t matter. You don’t lead based on the actions of other people. You lead because you lead.

I think leadership in recovery is one of the most important things because it provides a sense of purpose. I said this to all the program participants this morning – if you have 2 weeks sober and someone comes in 2 days sober and they’re terrified, you know what it’s like to be scared in a new environment, be a leader. Walk up to them and say, “I was terrified 2 weeks ago. You know what, this place isn’t that bad. People are kinda nice. If you need anything, come talk to me.” In that moment, someone that was purposeless, two weeks later they have a purpose in life. That’s our primary purpose – to carry the message to other people who might be struggling. That’s it. If all of us did that, then all of a sudden the recovery community becomes even more cohesive.

Tony – “Seek to understand rather than be understood.”

If any of you have access to the 12 and 12, which is the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions – it’s a companion of the big book that was written years later – it takes a deeper dive into the steps. In the 11th step, there’s an 11th step prayer which the first time I remember hearing it thinking “Oh my gosh, that is the most beautiful thing I heard in my life.” Seek to understand rather than be understood is actually from that – I suggest checking it out. If you don’t have one of those books, I’d suggest looking it up on Google and put in “11th step prayer, Alcoholics Anonymous”, it’s some good stuff – I suggest reading it regularly.


Me or you or us, we can’t choose how long we live. But we can choose how well we live. I know we can do things in life that can influence our life’s expectancy in a positive or negative way, but at the end of the day, we really don’t have a choice in how long we live. Life happens, weird things happen, accidents happen, but you can choose how well you live. And if you’re someone who is struggling with drugs and alcohol prior to this video or prior to going into treatment you just changed your legacy. You just changed how they remember you. You went from a person that was struggling, that was selfish, that was in pain, that was angry, to a person that has resilience, perseverance, making a difference, Not only in your life but in the lives of others. If you were a family member that was scared, lost, afraid, and now your loved one’s in recovery and you’re finding recovery for yourself, all of a sudden your legacy is changing. You’re becoming the person who didn’t give up on someone that gave up on themselves. You’re becoming a person of resiliency. You’re becoming the person that in the next chapter of life, accomplished a bunch of goals no one thought you would. We choose how well we live. I always say if it all ended today for me, this is it, I’d be so content. There’s a lot of stuff that I want to get done in life but there’s a lot of stuff I have done and it’s just based on the way that I’ve been living. Making a positive impact in the community, making a positive impact in the world – that’s the highest measure of success.

If you go out today, what I ask you to do is to pay it forward. If you find someone in need, struggling, if you come across someone that might be struggling, in the streets, maybe standing outside a store, and they ask you for something, it’s not my business whether you give them money or not, but just stop and just talk to them. What a foreign concept! People go inside a 7-11 and there’s a homeless person outside who says, “Do you have some change?” They don’t respond, they just walk in. Or they say “No” and they just walk in. This is what I do – “Give me a second! First, what’s your name? How long have you been struggling on the streets? What’s your story? How are you doing today?” I’ll have a full blown conversation with them. I know for a fact that it feels good for a human being to be seen despite their circumstances that made them homeless. If a lot of us did that it would make a significant impact on how homeless communities are received. If you want to give them some money, don’t have any expectations of what they’re going to do with it. There’s a chance that my 5 or 10 dollars might go to the drug dealer or the liquor store, or there’s a chance that the guy might save it and save it and buy himself a shirt and dress pants for a job interview. Don’t be the person who thinks you have all the answers Because I’ve seen it all. If you have a chance to help someone in need, buy them some clothes or jackets or school materials for their kids, just do it. Those are leaving legacies.

Tony – “One of the 7 habits of effective people”

I would check it out. It’s a good book.

Tony – “You either decide to survive or thrive. I decided to thrive.”

Alan – “Leave a legacy (not a legend)”

Jim – “Time is more important than money”

The quality of life is what it’s all about. All that being said, if anyone has any takeaways from today feel free to write them. I will be back next week, so next week we’ll have this again. The following week I won’t, but after that we’re good to go for the rest of the year. Just want to say I love and appreciate all of you, I’ll see you next week. Have a great week everyone!

Today is going to be the best day of your life.

GET HELP NOW:  949.258.7580


Kelsey Gearhart

Director of Business Development

Kelsey carries multiple years of experience working in the substance abuse and mental health treatment field. Her passion for this field comes from her personally knowing recovery from addiction.

Prior to Buckeye she held titles of Recovery Coach, Operations Director, and Admissions Director. Kelsey was brought on at Buckeye Recovery as the Director of Business Development. She has a passion for ensuring every individual gets the help that they need, and does so by developing relationships with other providers.

Kelsey also oversees our women’s sober living environments – The Chadwick House for Women. She is committed to creating a safe, nurturing, and conducive environment for all women that walk through the doors of Chadwick.