Addiction reaches every aspect of a person’s life – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It affects family, friends, neighbors, co-workers. No one is left untouched by this disease. Vertava Health’ focus in the month of July, turns to a three-part series with an esteemed author and colleague, Dr. Jason Brooks, who will share insight on the positives and perils of independence. Recognized as one of the most prominent emerging voices in personal and organizational transformation, Dr. Jason Brooks is also likely to be one of the most authentic, transparent and “real”. Viewed by many as the “youth pastor of personal growth and success”, his life mission of “bringing hope, healing, and inspiration to everyone he meets and leading on the journey for change, growth, and success” provides the foundation and focus where his purpose and passion are fully unleashed. As a bestselling author, inspirational speaker, and Chief People Officer of Vertava Health, Dr. Jason brings a heart for helping others to achieve their greatest potential and success…one step at a time.
The Perils of Independence
Over the next several weeks of our meeting, we talked about some of the decisions that led to the challenges and obstacles Jacob faced in life, but also the growth he experienced through those times. It became clear that learning how to effectively transition into his newfound independence when he went to college and beyond was a big part of his issues through the years. “You’ve had a lot of change over the last few years, Jacob. Much of the change has been a result of your growing independence. We talked several weeks back about the positives of independence. But, there’s also perils that come with independence and often it’s the lack of awareness of the potential perils that create the higher probability of problems in our lives. So, with this in mind, let’s talk through what some of those have been for you and how you walked through those seasons successfully.” “I don’t know how successful I’ve been,” Jacob began, “but I can certainly say I’ve learned a lot though through the difficult times. I think the first peril of independence is poor decision making. When I went to college, I didn’t have the best life compass for making the best decisions. I could do whatever I wanted. If I didn’t feel like going to class, I’d skip. If I wanted to go visit friends at 2AM, I’d go. If I wanted to buy something on credit because I didn’t have the cash and run up my credit card debt, I’d get it. The more poor decisions I made, the deeper I found myself in various kinds of trouble, trying to make my way out. It became so overwhelming that I sometimes resorted to even more unhealthy choices (primarily alcohol) to try to make myself feel better, even for a short time. What I finally learned was that I needed to surround myself with people who had been there, done that, and got the t-shirt and actually listen to their counsel in the decisions I was making. People like my parents (believe it or not), my professors, my mentors, my pastors and other adults I respected. The awesome thing was they had been there all the time, trying to speak wisdom into my life…I just didn’t listen. When I finally found out things weren’t working out the way I was going and opened my ears to their voices, it made an incredible difference.” “That’s awesome Jacob! So, finding, hearing and applying the wisdom of others in our lives when we’re making decisions is important. What else have you learned?” “Well, I think the next thing is being ready to accept responsibility. I would find myself blaming others for my decisions. You know, the old, ‘they made me do it.’ What a lie! It’s much better to be honest and say, ‘You know, I just really want to skip class today or drink that beer’ rather than putting the blame on someone else. I learned that I am the only one living my life and although there may be influences, often very strong and powerful influences, I am the one ultimately responsible for my actions. When I finally accepted responsibility for the poor choices I made I was finally able to accept responsibility for making change and putting myself on a better path. I’ve always wanted to be independent and I found that by blaming others, I was actually giving up my independence to someone else. The strength I found when I took responsibility for my life and my decisions and no longer passed blame was amazing.” “Fabulous, Jacob. It’s mind-blowing to consider how many of us spend so much time creating elaborate scenarios where we can push responsibility and blame to someone else instead of being the leaders of our own lives. I love the quote that Hal Elrod says, ‘The moment you accept responsibility for everything in your life is the moment you gain the power to change anything in your life.’” Jacob almost jumped out of his chair. “That’s exactly how I felt. When I finally took responsibility, I knew I could change anything. But, that change wasn’t always easy. I think that’s the third peril of independence…learning how to cope with change. When I graduated from college, I took a new job in a new city. Talk about change. New job. New community. New co-workers and friends. New experiences. Talk about a reset!” “I know exactly what you mean,” I said. “I’ve been through so many seasons of change in my own life. As I speak on the topic of change I like to say, ‘Ultimately, no one really likes change. In order to change, pressure must come. It’s natural. But, when you are able to push through the resistance, change can become easier.’” “That’s so true. I had to learn that change is a natural part of life and that I didn’t have to solve everything at the same time. If I looked at all the changes I was facing together…I would have been so overwhelmed that I may not have made the move. But, through smart people, I learned to take one step at a time. Sure, sometimes they were small…baby steps. But, I was taking steps nonetheless and making progress daily.” “That’s a great point, Jacob. Often, folks get so overwhelmed with change that they stop moving. This is definitely a peril of independence…getting stuck and not being able to move forward. But, like you said, by taking just one step at a time, you can begin to move in the right direction.” “Absolutely! Ultimately, as I learned about myself and how to make the most of my independence, it became part of how I live everyday. It was important for me to learn…but it has gotten easier. I don’t have to think about getting wise counsel anymore…I just do it. I don’t have to battle over placing blame on others anymore…I naturally and willingly accept responsibility for all my decisions and the consequences of those decisions. And, I don’t struggle with change like I used to. Sure, it’s not always easy, but now I know the steps I need to take and it’s made all the difference.” I could tell Jacob had come so far in learning about himself through those difficult times and that the commitment he was making toward being intentional with his life would serve him well in the future. He had a lot going for him and I was ready to taking the next step by starting to prepare and position him for the future. Dr. Jason is an expert in leading life change. As a gifted speaker and life success coach, he is available to speak at your next conference event and would love to connect with you on social media on Facebook,Twitter or Google+. Dr. Jason can be contacted through the public relations team at Vertava Health.