Step One suggests I admit powerlessness and unmanageability. These apply not just to what happens when I have a drink and to whether or not I can stay away from a drink when left to my own devices. These apply also to an inability to manage my life under any circumstances.
Managers of a business are in charge of strategy, policy, planning, monitoring and control, and discipline. Shop floor workers are in charge of getting on with the business of the business—its daily activities.
All my life, until I was given a programme, I felt inadequate. Part of this inadequacy stemmed from being a shop floor worker sitting up in the executive suite surrounded by consoles and computers and pie charts and graphs and reports with all of the phones ringing and endless decisions to be made. I am not trained for management of life—my life, your life, or life in general. I am not equipped; I do not have the necessary omnipotence, omniscience, prescience, and omnipresence to undertake this role. I felt inadequate because I was indeed truly inadequate to this particular task. And, like a child running a factory, when I ran my life, the results were disastrous, ever deepening my sense of inadequacy.
When I was new in AA, I was told to get a job. So I did. I worked in a sandwich bar, buttering bread. Then in a canteen, folding napkins. I was taught that all I had to do was show up, ask for instructions, follow them, go to my boss if there was a problem, then go home at the end of the day and forget about it. And, magically, money appeared in my bank account. If I thought I had a problem, I really did not—my boss had a problem, and my responsibility was to go to my boss, share the problem, and follow direction. For the first time in my life I felt truly free. I finally understood that, as long as I followed instructions and did what was in front of me, my responsibilities were fulfilled and I owed no one anything. In this area, the guilt and shame and sense of inadequacy left me to the precise extent that I followed this regimen. At last, I had a job I was adequate to. I am not talking about buttering bread or folding napkins—I am talking about being adequate to asking for instructions and following them to the best of my ability, rather than assuming management functions.
In the sandwich bar and the canteen, strategy, policy, planning, monitoring, control, and discipline were not my problem. I just had to be concerned with my actions and the spirit I was to bring to such actions.
This is the essence of Step Three.
Once I make the Step Three decision, I never need to make another decision in my life. The decisions that need to be made I ask for from my Boss. In the morning, when I plan my day, I ask for guidance, and, once the plan is set, that is the plan. I do not need to undertake any management role in this regard. My job, as it were, is to go to Management every morning, receive my instructions, and get on with it. I need to report back to Management at the end of the day, admitting what did not go well, but leaving the responsibility for determining what the corrective measures are to Management and especially asking Management for the necessary resources to carry out those corrective measures.
My responsibilities are thus extremely limited, in one way. However, the job that is assigned to me is totally my responsibility, and, if I do not discharge that responsibility, the job assigned to me will not get done, as there is no duplication or waste in this Divine System, and no one can deputise for me.
To sum up: my sense of total adequacy and fulfilment comes not from convincing myself I am adequate to a role above my station but from admitting my total inadequacy in the management role I had hitherto been usurping from God, and finding my true place. Shop floor, in the same uniform as everyone else, trotting up to my boss to ask for instructions, reporting back, and resting in the secure knowledge that the Real Manager knows what He is doing and the business is in expert hands. And I am provided for in every way and given all of the necessary tools of the trade.
Whenever I find myself donning management garb, I have to stand in front of the mirror and fire myself. There is only one Real Manager.