Unconscious Addictions…What’s the True Cost?

Yesterday, I went to the Memorial Reception of a son of a very dear friend. The son recently died of a heroin overdose. Such a tragedy. One sad aspect was that he’d actually been getting his life back together, kicking the habit, developing new companies and his career, but ultimately losing out to his personal demon…heroin. After processing this tragedy it had me thinking about my own addictions and how I tended to “mask” them over.

I am self-admittedly addicted to TV and food. Funny, I would tell my wife that TV was my drug of choice. It provided an escape. An escape from the chaos and craziness in the world. But never the less, it was still an addiction. And it does provide an associated cost. Wastes time where I could be doing more creative endeavors, reading, learning, playing games, have deep conversations with friends & family.

Now let’s look at another addiction of mine which for 40 years was driving me much more than I’d like to admit and that was …. the fear of abandonment. I was addicted to “fitting in” at any & all cost. What does that look like? What mask am I now wearing? First of all, being a “pleaser”, pleasing people to find acceptance, to fit in, but at what cost. The cost is not being authentic, to cave into others’ wishes, of not truly expressing myself and relinquishing my power.

So, what does this have to do with Corporate America? All organizations are filled with people who have various forms of addictions. From CEO’s to janitors, from administrative assistants to programmers, from engineers to truck drivers. From drug addiction to gambling, from pleasing to kleptomania, from needing power & control to laziness. Our addictions keep us from reaching our full potential. Our addictions keep us from being completely “present” to one another and impairing our communication. Our impaired communication translates into a lack of productivity and quality. That costs Corporate America millions of dollars.

The trouble with many addictions is they are often hidden from plain sight, they aren’t obvious and the individuals’ themselves are actually unaware of them and the true cost to them. Or possibly they’re in denial. But think about it…what if many of the “wellness programs” that many companies are implementing dealt with all of our insidious addictions and not just cessation of smoking or doing more exercise. What if those programs took on a more proactive role with all addictions? What would taking off that “mask” look like? What do we have to lose?

Greg Sievers

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