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This coach gets down to business

January 1, 2010
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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Dave lindbeck

Dave Lindbeck recalls that when he was rising in the banking industry in his 20s, he was the sort of person who would say whatever occurred to him, no matter its impact on others. He says that during his active addiction, he gave friends and colleagues plenty of reason to abandon him, only to receive patience and understanding instead.

“Thank God I didn't get what I deserved,” says Lindbeck, now 50. One positive influence he lacked, however, was someone with whom he could discuss his career goals and how to keep them in balance during his recovery journey. Later in his banking career he would find himself playing that advisory role for others who somehow would find their way to his office, and he discovered that this put him in a comfortable place.

Lindbeck would leave his job to start a career as a business and life coach, and soon that would evolve into a specialty assisting individuals in recovery as they pursue their professional goals in all types of fields.

“The majority of my folks happened to be on the road to recovery, so I figured, ‘Why not focus on that?’” says Lindbeck, whose InStep Coaching unit of his company ( assists individuals in recovery. “I would hear clients in recovery tell me, ‘You understand me on a level that others aren't going to.’”

Importance of balance

The name “InStep Coaching” sounds like a reference to 12-Step recovery, but Lindbeck says that's not where the name originated. “The reason for the name is that my head as a banker was going one way, but my heart was going another,” he explains. “I wanted to see how to keep those in step.”

Likewise, he assists his coaching clients in maintaining balance between their professional and personal lives. “They need to keep their business goals in balance with personal growth, not trading one for the other,” he says.

His approach with an individual client might depend greatly on the person's stage of recovery. Someone who has been in recovery for more than five years is well on the road and probably needs to talk mainly about maintaining balance, while someone with less than a year of sobriety might still be running into conflicts with work colleagues who remember the recent past and expect their colleague to behave in a certain way.

The presence of an employee in recovery can present numerous challenges in a workplace. A boss might be fearful of what could happen and might be more prone to micromanage. The employee might lack the maturity to deal with certain situations and could adopt a victim mentality. Lindbeck can discuss these scenarios frankly with clients. “Companies are just a big dysfunctional family,” he says.

Lindbeck, who is based in the Phoenix area, conducts his coaching sessions over the phone. Sometimes he will work with someone for whom one conversation will suffice, while others have developed a long-term professional relationship with him. Even in these cases, however, he makes sure that while he serves as a resource the client doesn't become too dependent on the relationship-and he clearly points out that he is not serving as a sponsor. His work emphasizes the client's professional life and goals.

“Sometimes I can be coaching the owner of the company and the top employee, and some of the challenges in the company are between the two of them,” Lindbeck says.

Experiences in youth

Lindbeck describes a somewhat familiar scenario in discussing his own progression into harmful substance use, from starting to drink in a public park in junior high school to attending keg parties with football teammates in high school to discovering drugs in college. A couple of important events occurred in his 20s. First, his alcoholic father committed suicide. He says he became determined not to be like his father, although his substance use and some of the bad behavior to colleagues that accompanied it would continue for some time.

Then, in his mid-20s, he and a colleague took a new hire to lunch. When the moment came to order drinks, and Lindbeck prepared for business as usual, the new employee said he didn't drink and discussed openly his addiction and recovery. It was an epiphany for Lindbeck, who saw what his life had become and observed someone who had taken another path.

The employee would end up taking him to his first 12-Step meeting. It has all led him to defining his own helping role, now in the unique position of helping executives who are in recovery.

“I wish I had had somebody with whom to have these kinds of conversations,” Lindbeck says.

Addiction Professional 2010 January-February;8(1):40