Entrepreneurs in Recovery: Why You Need to Stop Apologizing for Your Addiction

entrepreneurs in recovery

We’re going to take a look at some seeming contradictions: be confident, but humble; take risks, but don’t regret; make amends, but don’t apologize. When it comes to successful entrepreneurship, the balance between seemingly contradictory viewpoints can be the line you walk toward your success.

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said, “Accept everything about yourself — I mean everything.  You are you and that is the beginning and the end — no apologies, no regrets.”

So even in recovery, we need to stop apologizing for addiction. Here’s why.

An Apology Problem

Some addiction treatment programs do talk about making amends and asking for forgiveness–of yourself, of your friends and family, of God.  Making restitution of some kind for past “wrongs” can have incredible value:

  • You shed denials and admit what harm was caused
  • You introduce the possibility of forgiveness from self and others
  • You gain a kind of confidence that comes from sincerity, honesty, and transparency

All of this means that an apology is a good thing–a heartfelt, genuine, restorative apology serves an important role in the recovery process.

But what happens when you find yourself apologizing all the time, saying “sorry” as though it’s a reflex? Whether simply a habit, to soften a blow (such as bad news), as a show of humility or a display of nervousness, the “sorry”s can slip into nearly every conversation–even when you are clearly not at fault.

At some point, you may begin to undermine the confidence of others in you. For an entrepreneur, your self-confidence plays an important role in success.

Making it Matter

Amends, then, and quality apologies do matter. They serve a purpose for you and for the people in your life you feel you have wronged.  Whether or not people accept your apology, you feel the restoration. That’s the key, though: when you feel you are the one in the wrong.  Apologies that matter have that single factor in common.

In business, there are things an entrepreneur in recovery should stop apologizing for:

  • DON’T apologize for your past. The past provides lessons that guide us in our future.
  • STOP apologizing for your success. Just because you may have had your struggles in the past, does not mean that you do not deserve the future you desire.
  • DON’T apologize for being yourself. You can continue to improve as a human being, but not have to conform to someone else’s ideal.  Conformity can work in direct opposition to entrepreneurship.
  • STOP toxic relationships. People that tell you that you are not enough, that you don’t deserve your success, or that you won’t make it, are not the people you need in your life.

Give yourself permission to create your own future, to spend time with the kind of people you admire and can network with, and to be successful.

Lessons Learned

Despite what others may say about addiction, as a behavior and a mindset if they haven’t been there they don’t know the skills you have actually learned in recovery. Your improved ability to self-reflect, improved communication skills, empathy for your own history and for the experiences of others, and so many other lessons are all yours to keep going forward.

Those skills, that creative ambition and confidence, are all going to help you succeed as an entrepreneur. Here’s an anonymous quote for you: “At first they’ll ask why you are doing it, later they’ll ask how you did it.” Don’t apologize for where you’ve been or where you’re going…you can always tell them the story later, right now you are living.

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