+Theleader I chose toexamine is Bill Wilson, Co-Founder of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). I chose Mr. Wilson because when I was goingthrough my Associate’s degree courses for Chemical Dependency Counseling, I wasintroduced to AA and Bill Wilson, as one of its founders. I find the story of Bill Wilson inspiring andalthough his work and leadership has affected so many with alcohol dependencyissues, it’s truly amazing how his work has inspired others including his ownwife, Lois, who started Al-Anon, a support network for loved ones ofalcoholics. The areas in which Bill Wilson is aleader are numerous, in fact the work Mr. Wilson did as co-founder of AA was a testamentto his pioneering spirit, ability to organize and motivate others and hisinnovative approach to a problem as wide reaching as alcoholism while facingadversity.
When Bill Wilson co-foundedAA with Dr. Bob Smith in the 1930’s, it was a true innovation. At that time, although alcoholics could seekmedical treatment for their addiction, there was nothing around that treatedthe whole person: body, mind and soul. In fact, no other program today rivals the reach and he ability to turnalcoholics lives around like AA, it’s an original. Bill Wilson’s ability to stay true to his valuesand truly motivate people throughout his life is singularly inspiring. Many times he was offered great honors suchas the cover of Time Magazine or an Honorary Law degree from Yale Universitybut he would not accept them because he felt it would go against everythingthat he’d worked for including the idea of anonymity (Howell, 2013). Bill Wilson Showed many qualities thatwere exceptional.
For example, his ability to carry on while financially in duress,as well as, under mental stresses. Hisability to care for others while he dealt with his own issues showed a greatcompassion and empathy for his fellow man. Mr. Wilson also showed great courage by never giving up, even when theodds were against him.
He just kepttrying to get his message out there, to help anyone who would listen, he showedgreat strength of character and tenacity. Of all leaders in the book, Snapshots ofGreat Leader by Jon P. Howell, I most identified with Bill Wilson. His never surrender, never give up attitude andespecially when faced with adversity was inspiring and spoke to me on apersonal and professional level. Mysecond husband, Brien became an addict after a back injury shortly after wewere married.
When were married, it waslike a dream come true, we were perfectly matched and our new life together wasamazing but once his accident occurred and his growing dependence onprescription pain relievers morphed into an addiction, my world drasticallychanged. Brien’s addiction tore ourworld apart and toward the end of our marriage, I found it difficult to carryon, let alone continue being the kind of mother and wife I felt I should be toBrien and our children, his three as their step-mom and mine two, as theirmom. When we finally split after monthsof horrifying ordeals dealing with Brien’s addiction, I found myself laid offfrom my job, I had no transportation because Brien had sold my car for drugmoney, and I was living with my two kids at my parents because I was losing ourhome. I was depressed and wondered howsuch a fairy tale could go so wrong, I wondered what more I couldwithstand. I found life too much to bareand had a mental breakdown which resulted in a suicide attempt and a stay inthe psychiatric floor of the cal hospital. However, I was lucky, I too refused to give up, much like Wilson.
Iworked hard to get back to the person I used to be before the mental breakdownand Brien, I vowed to not let anything or anyone stop me from rebuilding mylife. A year or so later, I had a good job, was renting a little house with mykids in tow and I was making great progress and I decided I’d go to college,taking addictions and mental health courses. It was then that I first learned about BillWilson and AA. His ability to overcomeso many things similar to what I’d recently dealt with was so inspiring and notonly could I relate to his bouts with depression but also his triumph overtragedy and his ability to see hope and healing over the hell that was hislife. His story gave me hope andstrength and the ability to recognize that the only limitations that are putupon us, no matter the circumstances, are those that we put upon ourselves. Weeither lay down and die or we stand and fight! In examining Bill Wilson’s life as aleader, I learned a lot.
For instance, Ilearned that no matter what a person is going through, there are always otherswho are going through the same thing, you are not alone in your fight. Although Bill dealt with bouts of depressionand felt alone a lot of the time, he was able to realize that he wasn’tfighting a battle alone. There were manyothers out there in the world who were struggling with their addictions,fighting for their lives too. He was able to accept his addiction and not letit hold him back but used it to shine a light on it and help others. He showed great perseverance and resilience yetnever sacrificed his morals and values. He lifted others up when they were down and never tore them down whenthey made mistakes or back slid, he recognized his own humanity but also thatof his followers. I think that is onearea in which leaders like Bill Wilson stand out.
They bring empathy into theirleadership and they put themselves in their followers place. They don’t putthemselves above them, instead they are able to understand where theirfollowers are coming from and help them on a more personal level. If I could meet Bill Wilson today andsit down for a chat with him, I think I’d ask him a couple of questions. First, I’d ask him his reaction to and whathe thinks could help those who are dealing with opioid and heroin addictionsand the second question would be if he could give me one piece of advice as aleader, what would it be? I think that although during his lifetime there werethose who suffered from addiction to drugs such as opioids and heroin, thelevel to which we are fighting the epidemic is more terrifying.
We are losing a whole generation to thistragic epidemic and I’d like to know what he thinks could be done to help thefight. Do we look to the manufacturers to make better, less addicting drugs ordo we look to prevention for youth. Iwould like to receive advice from him as a leader because I feel like hecarried himself in a selfless manner, he was a true servant leader who puthimself aside to make sure that he did all he could to help his followers.