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Forged by Fire: The Road From Addiction to Success and Happiness

Forged by Fire: The Road From Addiction to Success and Happiness

The claws of addiction are long and sharp — once they grab ahold of a mortal heart, prone to sin and overindulgence, you’ll find their grip incredibly difficult to escape. Now, this is not to say that it can’t be done, but overcoming addiction is not a journey to be undertaken without a well-structured plan, plenty of commitment, and a strong support network.

There is a silver lining here, though — it is through all the trials and tribulations that a recovering addict goes through that an iron will is forged, and it is this grim determination to overcome adversity at all costs that can serve as a powerful tool later in life.

In this article, we will be taking a look at some of the ways people overcome addiction and the psychological tools and tactics that help them do so, as well as how ex-addicts can use their newfound strength of character to attain success and happiness in life.

Making the initial leap of faith

One of the hardest things in the world is admitting your own faults and mistakes, and this is even more difficult for someone with an addictive personality. When you’re used to escaping the grim reality with the use of your chosen drug, after a while you can’t even remember what it feels like to go about your day with your body chemistry set on default.

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Admitting that what you are doing is bad for you and the people around you and that, no, you can’t just quit whenever you want, is a huge victory. It is also a hard-won victory that is preceded by hours upon hours of self-doubt, fear, sadness, and frustration. It takes a lot of courage and strength to be able to change the way you see and define yourself, and this initial step — laying bare before you all your transgressions and weaknesses and deciding to change who you are — will lead to an immense mental shift.

The gruelling road towards recovery and lessons learned

Depending on your poison of choice, the process of going back to normal can be anywhere from “hard but doable” to “insanely uncomfortable and nerve-wracking.” For me, it was a matter of quitting cigarettes, giving up high-calorie junk food, and limiting my alcohol intake — which is no walk in the park, but is nowhere near as gruelling of an experience as quitting and fully recovering your body from extensive drug use.

However, I know a few people who had started to lose grip with reality and sink deep into the dark void of addiction — and then managed to pull themselves back. Some never quite return and keep falling back into old patterns, some are so determined to proceed with their kamikaze fall into oblivion that it’s nearly impossible to help them, but those who overcome their addiction have some incredible lessons to share. The human mind truly undergoes some major changes during recovery, both on a chemical and psychological level, and it’s interesting to see just how these changes can affect a person.

Some of the best life lessons I’ve picked up from ex-addicts can be applied to a wide range of circumstances and make anyone’s life better, and they are as follows:

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  • If you want to make progress, you need to stop lying to yourself.
  • Humans are not loners by nature; you need the support of your loved ones.
  • You need a single clear goal that you are focused on 100% if you want to succeed.
  • Every little victory counts, and you’ll need to achieve as many of them as you can.
  • A single failure does not mean utter defeat — don’t ever quit because of a setback.
  • If you want to change your lifestyle, change your circle of friends.

I’m sure that there are plenty of other little gems of wisdom that those who’ve overcome addiction could share with us, but these are just some of the most important ones that I’ve found to be highly beneficial.

The Survivor Mindset and how it carries over into the business world

The world of business is a cutthroat affair where only the strongest survive, but it is also a unique playground where all manner of different ideas can thrive. The mental toughness, determination, and ability to learn from failure that is developed through recovery can all be more than useful in an entrepreneurial context, but there’s more to it.

There is an interesting concept proposed by Per Wickstrom, the founder of Best Drug Rehabilitation and an ex-addict-turned-entrepreneur himself, of running a business more like a drug rehab clinic in order to attain success through making the customers happy, actually caring about their needs, and believing strongly in your own set of morals.

Focusing on helping others, developing emotional connections, and not straying away from your own core beliefs or deceiving others just to make a quick buck can actually help you build a strong business foundation and a likeable and trustworthy brand. The ability to determine which life choices are ethically questionable and which ones can help both you and others around you, while trying to stay well away from the dark side, is something that a recovering addict must quickly become adept at.

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Another thing ex-addicts have going for them is that they understand how toxic people’s minds work, how to spot them a mile away and deal with them effectively, which helps them avoid a great deal of stress and problems in the workplace. All this can help you a lot in any type of business setting.

How overcoming addiction and staying clean builds a happier mind

Apart from making you much more realistic, determined, and ambitious when it comes to business, overcoming addiction can also help you become a much better and happier person in your private life as well. Here are a few big positive changes that you will experience after successfully defeating addiction:

  • You develop thick skin and a fighting mentality.
  • You develop a deeper understanding of yourself and others.
  • You no longer take the little things for granted.
  • You’ve seen rock bottom and never want to go back there again.

There is an endless source of motivation to be found in the mere fact that you know what it feels like to be sad and alone with no prospects at the bottom of that black pit of misery and addiction, and you gain a great appreciation for the beauty of life and all those inspiring little moments that most people take for granted.

When combined with the ability to understand just how troubled and lonely someone can be, to connect with others on a deep emotional level, and to never let small things worry you too much, all this can turn you into a wonderful human being if you can just keep pushing forward.

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While drug addiction is an incredibly serious problem, it is not an impossible obstacle to overcome — it just takes lots of courage, determination, and patience. Going through the process of recovery is not just about going back to normal and integrating back into society; it also brings out the survivor mindset from deep within you, and that kind of mindset brings a lot of unique benefits with it.

As long as you apply the same intensity and strength of conviction to other aspects of your life, you will be able to achieve great things.

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Nemanja Manojlovic

Editor at MyCity Web

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Last Updated on April 11, 2019

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

How Communication Skills Help Your Success

Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

Create a Positive Experience

Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

Help Leadership Skills

It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

Build Better Teams

Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

1. Listen

Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

2. Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

Here is a good way to think about it:

Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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3. Minimize

I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

4. Over Communicate

So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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5. Body Language

The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

Conclusion

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

Now go communicate your way to success.

More Resources About Effective Communication

Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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