This edition of my blog is devoted to leadership.

Leadership especially servant leadership is needed in our world in general and in behavioral health care. Each day we face life and death situations. As professionals, we must walk with integrity as we work to help families, family offices, business managers, lawyers, estate attorneys, etc who are make lifesaving decisions to help their loved ones and their clients rise above the challenges that people face with addiction and mental illness.

Recently I was inspired by a talk that Robin Mooney, Co-Founder of JFlowers Health Institute gave on leadership at the Winter Leadership Summit. Following my friend and colleague Laura Smith from Seasons Behavioral Health sent me Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements to ponder and study. Inspired by both I thought I would share them with you today. In doing so, I wonder how you integrate leadership into your daily lives, how you inspire and mentor others albeit your families, your staff, your clients, and your community. I am anxious to learn from all of you.

Additionally, I want to share an article I wrote about habit stacking for it is in our daily repetitions and actions that we affirm and build habits that help us sustain, nurture and develop leadership.

Article 1: cultivating Leadership the Cherokee way.

Article 2: Cultivating Leadership- The four agreements.

Many of you are familiar with Don Miguel Ruiz’s work. I know that it is often used in behavioral health care centers as a philosophical stance or with clients even sponsees as a way of working through the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. As simple as it is to read, I find it thought-provoking and challenging to implement. I wonder how you interpret the four agreements in your daily life. Let’s look at the agreements together.


1. Be Impeccable with Your Word

Are you impeccable with your word ? Ruiz asks us to say what we mean more importantly avoid using words that speak against ourselves. We all know negative self-talk can do us in and we all have experienced the harshness of gossip. How will you use the power of your word today to speak kindly of yourselves? How will you avoid gossip no matter how tempting? Gossip after all is an act of treason of one’s soul it wants you to look good and the expense of another.


2. Don’t Take Anything Personally.

I have found not taking things personally extremely challenging. How do you feel? Ruiz teaches us nothing others do is really because of us. What others say and do is a projection of their reality, their own dreams, their own assumptions. . When we are immune to the opinions and actions of others Ruiz tells us we won’t be victims of needless suffering. Just think how many of us have wounded souls bearing the brunt of the ravages of mental health and addiction that ravaged our homes with despair. Yet our work personally and professionally is to help others rise to their best possible self to rewrite their story. What do you do to enhance yourselves and your clients? How are you writing your story?


3. Don’t Make Assumptions

Every day we make assumptions about who we are, what we see, who others are, and what we experienced. Often we skip pass curiosity and make decisions only on our assumptions. I remember one of my first social work jobs was running groups for abused women or so I thought. When I went to Mission de Alcala, where the groups were held, I was so excited to help these women but then I was giving the batters the perpetrators the men to work with. My assumptions were they were awful human beings and frankly, I was scared to be in the room with them. I had made up my mind they were no good. I thought the potential to hurt me. Yet somehow, I forced myself to listen, let in a ray of curiosity, and opened myself up to learning about the adversities these gentlemen experienced as children and the traumas they endured. I let go of my assumptions, my desire to gossip, and let them in. I was able at that moment to experience what Ruiz encourages us to do. While that is not an easy task I try and ask myself each day the following questions;

  • What assumptions am I making about others?
  • Are my assumptions based on fact or fiction?
  • What stories am I weaving?
  • Did I gossip or listen eagerly to gossip?
  • What am I able to experience firsthand? 
  • How did I let go of my assumptions?
  • How do I as a behavioral health care leader create systems which support curiosity?
  • How do you deal with your assumptions?


4. Do your Best!

Wow, what a simple statement yet so so powerful. Ruiz reminds us that doing our best will fluctuate from moment to moment and will be dependent on whether we are healthy or not or whether we are feeling – mad, sad, angry, upset, elated wonderful, etc. Moreover, he reminds us that who we are today may not be who we are tomorrow and so doing your best and being impeccable with your word abs the agreements you have will change over time. Remember as the 12 steps continue to teach me it’s progress and not perfection. I am Learning if try to do my best, I know I am taking action because I love taking action without expectations. That is ultimately the hardest part.