The world was once flat? Addiction treatment once was undesirable and unsuccessful. This is the story of challenging the status quo to implement big changes.
Welcome to my challenge. I have challenged the status quo since I was 13. I remember distinctly questioning anything and everything. I was not necessarily always right, and frankly, I was often wrong, but the type of thinking I utilized paved the road for my newest challenge: The Moderation Institute. The key was, the fact that I strived to have "different" thinking was not always better. This concept will become clear as you read through this blog post.
I put you to the challenge to post or reply with an example of how you want to challenge the status quo--something you think is archaic and out-of-touch with modern thinking; something you want to change for the good of the world! Whether locally, nationally or globally, a leader has no barriers. A leader thinks outside the box, and a leader challenges the status quo.
Without people who think differently, we literally would have believed in a world that was flat. That is the first example that comes to mind when I think about how easily human beings will follow the masses. Blind leading the blind, deaf leading the deaf and uninformed human leading uninformed human. This became the basis for true leaders begin challenging the status quo.
Let's start with traits of a leader who challenges the status quo:
Do things differently. Doing things differently doesn't mean doing them better.
Strive to think outside the box and attempt to look at a problem from a different angle than anyone else. Whether you feel your thought is better or not, it doesn't matter. Different is inherently better when it comes to being a leader, and thus, you become one who wants to drive change, rather than "play follow the leader." You WILL have different ideas that frankly do not work, that do not improve upon the current methodology and that offer absolutely no value; however, the benefit is in the thought process itself where your are able to think outside the box.
Don't be a "Yes" Man.
Let's be honest, there are sheep and there are leaders. At the very least, think about what you are agreeing to do, think about WHY you are doing something. Does it make sense? If you agree to do something but cannot think of a logical reason why you are doing it, you are being a "yes" man (or woman).
Be a contrarian.
In short, be someone who goes against the grain. If the majority goes left, you go right. If the majority invests in product A, you look for a Product B. You don't compete in a saturated market filled with many people who have the same idea, you create your own market with a unique idea.
I will tell you this based on my own history. If you cannot take a risk, you will never succeed in the way that a leader succeeds. No risk, no reward. No pain, no gain. With confidence, a plan and the appropriate confidence, you need to go on and take the world by storm.
Think outside the box.
As an exercise, try to look at everyday common issues and think of ways to do things differently. Remember as mentioned above, forget doing things "better." Focus on doing things differently. The mind of a leader is trained, not pre-programmed from birth. While certainly, there are some genetic characteristics to personality traits and some learned behavior we witness as children, the vast majority of leaders are trained and practiced thinkers. Be a thinker is my final word of advice.
The Moderation Institute was the product of these various principles being carried out. A lifetime of thinking differently, confidence in taking risks, and a lack of fear, when the masses showed doubt. The Moderation Institute is a product of my frustration with the methodology of addiction treatment in the United States. I started getting frustrated with patients coming, in wanting help with their alcohol use or drug use, but not wanting to pursue the available options.
There is the "perfect" way and there is the "realistic" way. Sometimes, there is a perfect way that leads to the desired results 100% of the time. In those cases, unless the option is realistic and people actually want to engage in the option, the perfect method is meaningless. I learned this while practicing medicine in my own practice. I would often have several necessary treatment options that needed to be implemented, however, the patient would not necessarily want to engage in the plan. I learned that sometimes you need to focus less on the ideal way and work within the confines of reality.
Let's take a look at addiction treatment and alcohol treatment in the United States. The thing that really bothered me was that the recommended way or "perfect" way in terms of a patient doing absolutely everything that they were told, still led to absolutely disappointing results with huge relapse rates and very low success rates. The options were undesirable as well. I found trying to convince someone to engage in a treatment path that was so unsuccessful felt absolutely inconsistent with why I became a physician.
This forced me to search for other approaches and ultimately, I found The Sinclair Method of treating alcohol addiction. I started incorporating The Sinclair Method and modifying my approach to treating alcohol problems in patients. The result was drastically higher success rates with a much more realistic and doable path to reaching the success. Success rates were 75-80% vs. 15% or less with traditional treatment. This would seem like a no-brainer to the addiction treatment community. However, the pushback from the vast majority of treatment providers and people in general was actually surprising. I anticipated the doubt and skepticism, as the success rate was so much higher and the sacrifice to get better was so much less. Despite my presentation of evidence, logic and rational arguments, colleagues were unable to look outside the traditional box.
I had seen great success in my practice thus far, so I knew the truth and I simply got more excited as more people doubted me, since I saw it as challenge to shift the paradigm and dogmatic thinking that has led to failed addiction treatment over the past several decades. I often ask skeptical people this: "If you had cancer, would you be okay with accepting the chemotherapy, surgical and treatment options from 1960 rather than the options from 2017?" I have yet to hear someone say "yes."
I believed in the idea--derived from science and data--and the methodology practiced and proven in Europe for many years. It simply was not accepted in the United States. I set out to change that.
I challenge anyone who reads this blog to think of one idea on how to change the status quo. Instead of being unhappy with the way things are, be excited to find an opportunity to do things differently. As you become a skilled leader, the "different" will indeed become the "better" option and as a leader, you will pave the way to the new way of thinking.
Michael Yasinski, MD