Change is a beautiful thing, experienced over a period of decades.

After 22 years as leader of The Change Companies, I stepped down last week to make room for a new era. A blend of good fortune and a cast of dedicated employees have allowed our organization to assist over 5,000 hospitals, government agencies, schools and public and private addiction treatment facilities in creating positive life changes.

It seems like only yesterday (actually, it was January of 1989) when I headed out from Madison, Wisconsin, with a belief that each individual going through an addiction treatment program would gain from completing an Interactive Journal during the recovery experience.

In the beginning, I had no prototype to display. I walked by NO SOLICITATION signs in the lobbies of Midwestern hospitals with my black briefcase filled with old telephone books. Doing my best to appear stolid, I was in a race to sell my vision before the Administrator could ask to see what was in the case.

And it worked. Caring staffs responded in Davenport, St. Cloud, LaCrosse, Berwyn, Indianapolis, Mandan, Sioux City, Albert Lea and, eventually, in cities in every state in the country. The creative vision and dedicated research of Ira Progoff, James Prochaska, William Miller, James Pennebaker and others took a new form in the creation of Interactive Journals that have assisted over 15 million individuals. We worked with seasoned professionals: nurses, counselors, physicians and directors, to create client-centered Journals that encouraged individuals to be more engaged in their treatment experience and to record their progress.

In the 1990s, I stayed at more Motel Sixes, devoured more fast food cheeseburgers and got lost in more cities than one can imagine. And I changed, not all at once or in dramatic ways, but through the little choices I made each day.

It is with this hard-earned wisdom that I now give over the reins of The Change Companies to a new leader. I am experiencing joy and anticipation as both The Change Companies and I begin a new chapter.

Guest Author next week…

You will continue to find a Mindful Midweek from Don in your inboxes each Wednesday. Next week, however, Don is pleased to have Joyce Conley, new CEO of The Change Companies, create the Mindful Midweek message.