+ The leader I chose to examine is Bill

+

The
leader I chose to
examine is Bill Wilson, Co-Founder of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).  I chose Mr. Wilson because when I was going
through my Associate’s degree courses for Chemical Dependency Counseling, I was
introduced to AA and Bill Wilson, as one of its founders.  I find the story of Bill Wilson inspiring and
although his work and leadership has affected so many with alcohol dependency
issues, it’s truly amazing how his work has inspired others including his own
wife, Lois, who started Al-Anon, a support network for loved ones of
alcoholics.

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        The areas in which Bill Wilson is a
leader are numerous, in fact the work Mr. Wilson did as co-founder of AA was a testament
to his pioneering spirit, ability to organize and motivate others and his
innovative approach to a problem as wide reaching as alcoholism while facing
adversity.  When Bill Wilson co-founded
AA with Dr. Bob Smith in the 1930’s, it was a true innovation.  At that time, although alcoholics could seek
medical treatment for their addiction, there was nothing around that treated
the whole person: body, mind and soul. 
In fact, no other program today rivals the reach and he ability to turn
alcoholics lives around like AA, it’s an original.  Bill Wilson’s ability to stay true to his values
and truly motivate people throughout his life is singularly inspiring.  Many times he was offered great honors such
as the cover of Time Magazine or an Honorary Law degree from Yale University
but he would not accept them because he felt it would go against everything
that he’d worked for including the idea of anonymity (Howell, 2013).

        Bill Wilson Showed many qualities that
were exceptional. For example, his ability to carry on while financially in duress,
as well as, under mental stresses.  His
ability to care for others while he dealt with his own issues showed a great
compassion and empathy for his fellow man. 
Mr. Wilson also showed great courage by never giving up, even when the
odds were against him.  He just kept
trying to get his message out there, to help anyone who would listen, he showed
great strength of character and tenacity.

        Of all leaders in the book, Snapshots of
Great Leader by Jon P. Howell, I most identified with Bill Wilson.  His never surrender, never give up attitude and
especially when faced with adversity was inspiring and spoke to me on a
personal and professional level.  My
second husband, Brien became an addict after a back injury shortly after we
were married.  When were married, it was
like a dream come true, we were perfectly matched and our new life together was
amazing but once his accident occurred and his growing dependence on
prescription pain relievers morphed into an addiction, my world drastically
changed.  Brien’s addiction tore our
world apart and toward the end of our marriage, I found it difficult to carry
on, let alone continue being the kind of mother and wife I felt I should be to
Brien and our children, his three as their step-mom and mine two, as their
mom.  When we finally split after months
of horrifying ordeals dealing with Brien’s addiction, I found myself laid off
from my job, I had no transportation because Brien had sold my car for drug
money, and I was living with my two kids at my parents because I was losing our
home.  I was depressed and wondered how
such a fairy tale could go so wrong, I wondered what more I could
withstand.  I found life too much to bare
and had a mental breakdown which resulted in a suicide attempt and a stay in
the psychiatric floor of the cal hospital. 
However, I was lucky, I too refused to give up, much like Wilson. I
worked hard to get back to the person I used to be before the mental breakdown
and Brien, I vowed to not let anything or anyone stop me from rebuilding my
life. A year or so later, I had a good job, was renting a little house with my
kids 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 Bill
Wilson and AA.  His ability to overcome
so many things similar to what I’d recently dealt with was so inspiring and not
only could I relate to his bouts with depression but also his triumph over
tragedy and his ability to see hope and healing over the hell that was his
life.  His story gave me hope and
strength and the ability to recognize that the only limitations that are put
upon us, no matter the circumstances, are those that we put upon ourselves. We
either lay down and die or we stand and fight!

        In examining Bill Wilson’s life as a
leader, I learned a lot.  For instance, I
learned that no matter what a person is going through, there are always others
who are going through the same thing, you are not alone in your fight.  Although Bill dealt with bouts of depression
and felt alone a lot of the time, he was able to realize that he wasn’t
fighting a battle alone.  There were many
others 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 let
it hold him back but used it to shine a light on it and help others.  He showed great perseverance and resilience yet
never sacrificed his morals and values. 
He lifted others up when they were down and never tore them down when
they made mistakes or back slid, he recognized his own humanity but also that
of his followers.  I think that is one
area in which leaders like Bill Wilson stand out. They bring empathy into their
leadership and they put themselves in their followers place. They don’t put
themselves above them, instead they are able to understand where their
followers are coming from and help them on a more personal level.

        If I could meet Bill Wilson today and
sit 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 what
he thinks could help those who are dealing with opioid and heroin addictions
and the second question would be if he could give me one piece of advice as a
leader, what would it be? I think that although during his lifetime there were
those who suffered from addiction to drugs such as opioids and heroin, the
level to which we are fighting the epidemic is more terrifying.  We are losing a whole generation to this
tragic epidemic and I’d like to know what he thinks could be done to help the
fight. Do we look to the manufacturers to make better, less addicting drugs or
do we look to prevention for youth.  I
would like to receive advice from him as a leader because I feel like he
carried himself in a selfless manner, he was a true servant leader who put
himself aside to make sure that he did all he could to help his followers.