I am an addict.
Responsible for my addictions is a thing I refer to as “The Beast”.

He first appeared during my second week of college.

It was Monday. 10am. Exhausted from a five-day Frosh week party, I craved more. I chained him up and cut a deal. I would feed him on weekends if he’d stay quiet during the week.

My beast is the grandson of my grandfather’s.

I saw his beast when I was six years old. I forgot my books at his house. I needed them for school. It was dark, and Grampie had passed out. Grandma was at my aunt Lynn’s, waiting for him to sober up. Dad knocked on the door to no answer.

The stone cellar had a removable window. It was too big for dad but perfect squeezing size for me. Dad lowered me through the hole. I tiptoed around the potato bin, climbed the stairs, and found my way to the front door. Grampie came around the living room door with a knife, just as I was letting dad in. He attacked. Dad wrestled the old man to the ground, took away the knife, and told him we meant no harm. I don’t remember much else.

It’s the only bad memory I have of Grampie. His unchained beast blinded him from his own son and grandson. Two months later, after 40 years of spoiling his beast, Grampie quit the sauce. I enjoyed 20 more years with him. Caged, my grandfather was lovable, funny, and quick-witted.

My beast appeared a second time in college. My friends liked marijuana. I liked it too. The beast rattled his chains begging for freedom. I reminded him of our previous deal. Worried my beast would break free if I gave him too much freedom, it was best to stash away another vice.

20 years went by. Married with kids, I thought the beast was bored into a coma.

Until Randy helped me see the beast from a different angle.
At a breakfast meeting, Randy ordered a granola something or other.
He ran 10 miles before I woke up.
He told me that he was addicted to running. Actually, he was addicted to most things.
Alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex…
He had 7 kids. Three years earlier, his wife threatened to leave him if he didn’t clean up.
His beast didn’t care what it was fed, as long as it ate.
He nourished it with running and granola food to save his marriage.

My beast never went to sleep.
He was feeding on something new.
I was 40 pounds overweight.

I thought about the adrenaline rush associated with business ownership.
He fed on that too.
I built and operated seven different restaurants in 15 years.

Randy reminded me to feed my beast.
As of December 2022, I walk three hours a day.
I write every day.
And I drink lemon tea.
My beast enjoys it more than beer.
Yesterday, he winked with satisfaction when I added an extra drop of lemon juice into my lemon zinger matcha.

Addictions come in all colours.
I believe all of us have a beast pacing back and forth, waiting for an opportunity to break the chain.

You can chain the bastard like my Grampie did.
Grampie fed his beast chewing tobacco, then Rum and Butter candies, then cards. The old man loved to play cards for money.

My beast feeds on sweets and buying businesses.

Businesses have beasts too.

Some feed on complacency and past glory.
Complacency tastes best when seasoned with bad hires, unengaged staff, dissatisfaction, and ineffective advertising.

An addict can’t see the destruction they create.
The beast’s shadow blinds them.

Alcoholics Anonymous uses a buddy system to calm the beast. A drunk won’t go to AA, until he wants to go.

Unchained, the beast will ransack your business, your life, and the lives of those you love.

I hope your beast is shackled, fed, and asleep.
If complacency is oozing in your business, if your ads are ok, if sales are not growing by at least 10%, your beast is eating well.

His eyes are wide open.

“The habit of not doing something is the most destructive habit of all.”

– Darlene Smith (friend)

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